Remember This Formula for
Wheelchair Usable Ramps:
1on 12. That means for
every foot of rise up to an entrance, you'll need a
minimum of 12 feet of ramp. A steep ramp can make it
impossible for someone in a manual wheelchair, not to
mention dangerous. If space permits, it's even better
to have 20 feet of ramp for every foot of rise. Somewhere
between 12 and 20 would be ideal. Most ramps are built
out of wood with anti-slip adhesive strips to prevent
surface from becoming slippery.
Ramps must be at least three feet
wide and have handrails on both sides. For every 30
inches of ramp rise, there must be a level rest platform
at least five feet long. Additionally, wherever a ramp
changes direction, a five-by-five footrest platform
must be provided. If there is a drop off on one side
of a ramp, some kind of protective curb is necessary.
Hire a carpenter who is experienced with accessible
building codes, including ADA guidelines. (See Contractors,
Layouts and Building Plans.)
Getting up the On-Ramp
If you live in your own house, a ramp may
be easier to install than you think, and you may have more
room than you know. For instance, ramps can be built in sections
with turns (switchbacks) to accommodate elevation. The first
section of the ramp originates with the front or back porch.
A seldom-used pathway on one side of the house may also provide
needed room for a ramp. A house with a long front or back
lawn is ideal, but if not, building a ramp at the edge of
your property line may provide the needed space.
A well-built ramp should not only provide full access to your
house, but also be designed to match your house's style and
architecture; that may simply require matching paint. The
ramp will make a nice looking addition to the main structure.
Some towns have set up need-based funds
that pay for some or all of a ramp. See: How
to Pay For It?
If the height (elevation) of your entry/exit
door is too tall to accommodate a ramp, it will be necessary
to install a lift. Work with a contractor or carpenter to
determine your options. A lift is much more expensive, but
it's possible to qualify for funding, such as a home equity
loan or other source.
If you're an apartment renter, you
can buy a portable ramp for the entry door of your
apartment building and arrange to have your landlord install
it. This is a reasonable accommodation under the Fair Housing
Act of 1968 (http://www.hud.gov/offices/fheo/FHLaws/index.cfm),
and therefore a landlord or building owner can't refuse your
use of it. If you don't occupy a ground floor unit, an elevated
building is, of course, imperative.
Lifts and elevators are manufactured primarily
in Canada, then assembled and shipped to resellers in the
United States and other countries. Lifts are either electric
or hydraulic and consist of the lift itself and a tower that
runs and sits beside it. When a lift is installed, an electrician
must create an outdoor electrical circuit for the lift's power
source. It can be installed near the front or back entrance
or to the side of the entrance or exit, providing there is
sufficient rolling and turning space for a wheelchair or scooter.
A safety gate is installed at the topagainst
the house or structure it's built against, to prevent anyone
from falling off the platform. The toe plate and side gates
on the lift protects passengers from rolling off. In snowy
areas, consumers are sometimes advised to keep the lift in
the lowered position to prevent snow from accumulating underneath
Regrettably, there's very little consumer
information readily available about lifts, and no regulating
agency to rate them for quality of operation, efficiency,
or ease of use.
However, one well-established international
company, Concord Elevators http://www.concordelevator.com
, has been in business about 25 years. Concord produces residential
and commercial elevators and lifts, stair lifts, and porch
and trunk lifts. They are sold through local distributors
who visit the premises to measure and assess customer needs.
Check with your local Better Business Bureau or Consumer Protection
Agency with questions about specific lift distributors.
Here are companies
that construct stair-lifts for the interior of your house:
Manufacturer of stair lifts designed for easy homeowner installation.
Bruno stair lifts, power chairs, scooters, vehicle lifts,
stair lifts and Turning Automotive Seating.
Inclined platform lifts, vertical lifts, platform lifts, emergency
4 Stair Lifts
A dealer of Summit and Acorn stair lifts; installation and
Number 1 Stair-lifts
Information and advice regarding installation of all types
of stair-lifts and their manufacturers
Stair-lift Info Guide
More great information and sales of stair-lifts
Note: Infinitec Inc. does not endorse
or recommend these products and has no liability for the results
of their use. Infinitec Inc. has received no consideration
of any type for featuring any product on this Web site. The
information offered herein is a summary; it is not comprehensive
and should be carefully evaluated by consumers with the assistance
of qualified professionals. The intention of Infinitec Inc.
is to offer consumers a brief overview of various assistive
technology devices and their applications.