Everyone knows that wheelchair ramps are to help those confined to wheelchairs access buildings. Stairs are next to impossible for someone in a chair, and ramps make accessibility at least a bit easier. But you probably did not know about all the different options for ramps that are out there! There are also some legal requirements.
Permanent or Semi-Permanent Ramps
If you or a loved one are going to be in a wheelchair for a long time, you might want to invest in a permanent or semi-permanent ramp. Permanent ramps are strongly secured in place, often by bolts. Sometimes, such as in the case of concrete, they are built right in. Semi-permanent ramps simply rest on top of the ground, but are sturdy enough for fairly long-term use.
The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, has made it required for any new public building to be built with ramps for wheelchair accessibility. These ramps require a 1:12 slope. This means for every inch the ramp rises, there should be a foot of ramp. Although these laws do not apply to residential housing, if you are thinking of building or remodeling a home so that it is wheelchair accessible, you might want to take the laws for commercial buildings into consideration. In residential buildings, the suggested slope is no more than 2:12.
Portable ramps, while perhaps not as safe or secure as permanent or semi-permanent ramps, are the perfect solution for many of your wheelchair needs-especially if you or your loved one is only temporarily in a wheelchair. Portable ramps can also be helpful when loading a wheelchair into a van or other vehicle. These ramps often collapse to make transport easier.
Most wheelchair ramps are made from one of three materials.
- Concrete–Concrete is strong and sturdy, but heavy and unmovable. It is only used for permanent ramps.
- Aluminum–Light and portable while still being durable, aluminum is the perfect choice for semi-permanent and portable ramps.
- Wood–The rarest material for ramps, wood works well, but often wears down or rots quickly.