An accessibility ramp is an inclined plane that is installed to allow mobility scooter and wheelchair users to access a building or area. It is generally installed in replacement of stairs or as an addition and alternate option to enter or exit a home or building. Wheelchair ramps can be portable, semi-permanent or permanent. There are a variety of options when choosing wheelchair ramps for your home. Finding the right accessibility ramp for your mobility scooter or wheelchair to suit your needs can be a very time consuming task. This is why we have put together this wheelchair ramp buying guide to help you answer questions and make buying a ramp an easy process.
Where Will You Need a Wheelchair Ramp?
You will need to have a clear vision of where a wheelchair ramp is needed. Carefully go through your home to inspect raised thresholds, steps and other barriers that will require a ramp. The most common areas an accessibility ramp is needed are listed below.
- The threshold between the shower and the floor in the bathroom
- Steps leading to front and back entry doors to the home
- Indoor and exterior doors with lips or raised thresholds
Length of the Wheelchair Ramp
You will use the vertical height the ramp needs to ascend and the length of the stairs to determine the type of ramp you need. You will also need to consult your mobility scooter guidelines to assure your mobility device will fit easily. You can calculate the ramp length you need easily with the following calculations.
- 1-Inch Rise: 12-Inch Run (4.8 degrees) – Calculate the number of inches in total vertical height. This will equal the number of feet in length you will need.
- 2-Inch Rise: 12-Inch Run (9.5 degrees) - Divide the total vertical height in inches by 2.
- 3-Inch Rise: 12-Inch Run (14.5 degrees) – Divide the total vertical height in inches by 3.
- To decide the ramp width, determine the width of the wheelbase of the scooter. Leave enough room on either side for safety and easy crossing.
Meeting ADA Requirements
If you want your accessibility ramp to meet ADA requirements, the incline of your ramp must not exceed a 1:12 slope or 12 inches of the length of the ramp for every 1 inch rise.
Tips for Using a Wheelchair Ramp
- Don’t exceed a slope more than 3:12 for an unoccupied scooter.
- Don’t exceed a slope more than 2:12 for and occupied scooter.
- Assure a qualified assistant is available when using a portable ramp.
- Assure your lap belt is secure before using a portable ramp.
- Assure the top of the ramp is secured on the landing or step before using the ramp.
- Assure there is adequate head clearance before attempting to use an accessibility ramp.
Types of Wheelchair Ramps
The most common type of threshold ramps are panel and solid ramps. Most homes have thresholds that are raised about ½ inch or more throughout the house. Threshold ramps are designed to facilitate a small rise.
Modular Wheelchair Ramp
This type of ramp comes prefabricated in a variety of lengths. They often require installation and just a little assembly. When purchasing this type of ramp you will want to assure the ramp meets ADA specifications, you have the necessary tools and capability to assemble it or hire someone who can build it for you, and you will need to acquire a permit from your local building authority for installation of the ramp.
Trifold ramps have a unique 3-fold design which offers the length required for wheelchairs and scooters to easily access steps, vehicles, and raised landings. These trifold ramp are designed to be used and carried as a set and can be quickly separated into two individual sections for easy use and storage.
Portable ramps generally fold up and assist in entering and exiting a vehicle, or is used in the home occasionally. There are some ramps that are solid surfaces. Consider the total weight of the ramp when purchasing a portable style to ensure safety in transport.
Exterior Access Ramps
When it comes to exterior ramps you will need to refer to local building codes. It is also recommended that you consult with the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessibility. There may be occasions that you may need a ramp length beyond what is offered. In this case, you may want to consider a home access ramp with customizable length such as the following.
Aluminum Modular Ramps
This type of ramp is made from aluminum which is highly durable and long lasting. You can purchase straight sections in various lengths.
This type of ramp is made with high quality lumber. It is a great option for blending in with specific types of homes and coordinating with an existing porch or deck.
To create a custom ramp you will want to hire a professional to build it. Creating custom ramps requires specific skills and familiarity with using building materials to develop a safe surface and strong structure.
Affordability and Payment Options
Wheelchair ramps are a necessity that allows you to get around the inside and outside of your home safely and easily. The ramps are often affordable, however if you find yourself needing assistance with the purchase there are a variety of things you can do.
- Discuss payment plans and options with the company you choose to purchase the accessibility ramp from.
- Inquire if Medicare or your private insurance company will cover the cost in full or partially.
- Submit a claim to see if you can get approved. To help the process of submitting a claim go easier, you will want to know and understand your coverage in its entirety. You will also want to have required information prepared such as monthly expenses and income, employment history and the nature of your disability.
- Lower the cost by asking friends or family members to assemble the ramp for you, ask for help from local carpentry classes, charities and volunteer organizations. You can also contact state housing finance agencies and the veteran’s administration.
Remember to take proper measurement of the area that requires an accessibility ramp and choose the size that is best suited to the area. You will always want to consider your safety and assure that the ramp structure is built with high quality materials that are durable and long lasting. Ask for help from family, friends, neighbors or local volunteer organizations if you need assistance assembling and installing the wheelchair ramp. When buying a wheelchair ramp, refer to local building codes and decide between a permanent or temporary ramp..