Wheelchair ramps come in many designs, but all offer one main function. Their purpose is to make a threshold accessible to people in manual or power wheelchairs, scooters, walkers or anyone else who has trouble using stairs, without having to make structural modifications. There are many detailed codes and restrictions necessary to observe before constructing a ramp to ensure safety. For example, the standard and maximum slope ratio is 1:12 on every ramp.
If you are considering installing a ramp at your home or business, you must consider several points. Who is the ramp for? What kind of weight are you expecting it will have to support? How much room do you have, and what would be the ideal material for your location? Will your ramp be permanent, semi-permanent, or temporary?
The material of the ramp you choose is the most crucial decision you will have to make. For a permanent or semi-permanent ramp, consider a wooden, metal or concrete ramp. Wood ramps can be aesthetically pleasing, but they are not the most durable and can easily crack under extreme heat. Metal ramps are strong, but the surface can get dangerously hot in the summer. Concrete ramps are great in many conditions, but they are very difficult to remove and their impracticality can be a headache. Portable aluminium or fibreglass ramps are your best option for convenience. Not only are they inexpensive and easy to carry, but they can also be secured for semi-permanent placement if desired. They are typically secured by inserting a pin through the pre-drilled holes and into the landing.
The style of ramp is your next major consideration. Choose a track ramp, where the wheels line up with the ramp, or a threshold ramp; which basically bridges small gaps from one landing to another. Perhaps a module ramp with its customizable, connectable sections; or a portable suitcase ramp the looks just like luggage would be best for you. Also consider a roll-up ramp, the ultimate in convenient portability, or a telescoping ramp that can slide in and out for a tailored length each time.
Whichever ramp you choose, regular maintenance is the key to keeping your apparatus safe and remaining in compliance with ADA codes. Wooden ramps may need touch-up paint jobs or the no-skid rolled roofing surface periodically replaced. Metal ramps may need certain joints re-welded and rust spots removed. Also, adjustments may need to be made as the user's needs change. For example, a slope's ratio may require alteration as the wheelchair occupant's condition changes with time.