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Choosing a Wheelchair Ramp

choosing a wheelchair ramp / fall prevention planning

Choosing a Wheelchair Ramp that Fits Your Needs

Choosing a wheelchair ramp for your home is an important decision. Each house has a different floor plan. Entrances and exits may vary in accessibility for wheelchairs.

This article will help you to identify and choose the best wheelchair ramp for your home.

There are several aspects to understand in order to get the best-fit for providing safe access. The best place to start is in the home where the ramp(s) will be used. Consider the different places where wheelchair access is needed. That could be any place where the user will encounter steps, tall thresholds, or any changes in the floor’s elevation.

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Places to Check

  • Front and back exterior doors.
  • Doorways that have raised thresholds.
  • Anywhere there are changes in floor elevation, such as found in some bathrooms and kitchens.
  • Automobiles that need ramps when mobility scooters are loaded. Usually a portable Suitcase Ramp works well for this.

Steps to Take for Needed Measurements

  1. Choose the highest set of stairs where you intend to use the wheelchair. This is often a front or back exterior entryway.
  2. Measure from ground level to the highest point of the top step. Round up to the nearest inch. This is the “highest rise.”
  3. Check the owner’s manual of your mobility equipment. It will provide you with a “recommended angle of slope”. You’ll need this to determine the best ramp.  If you’re using a manual wheelchair, remember that users should always have a helper when traveling up or down the ramp to prevent accidents. The slope of a ramp should be gradual.
  4. Calculate. Using the measurement of your highest rise and the “recommended angle of slope” indicated by your equipment manufacturer, you are now ready to determine the length and type of ramp you need.

If you are unsure about the angle of slope you want, use ADA recommendations, which state the safe angle of slope is determined as 1:12 or 1 in 12.
A slope angle of 1:12 is quite easy to interpret. It simply means that for every one -inch rise, the ramp should extend one foot in length. So, a 6- inch tall step requires a 6- foot long ramp.
You can use the EZ-Access Incline Calculator to determine your length.

Should you decide you need to acquire a permanent wheelchair ramp for your home, you need to check with your City about the local building code requirements and obtaining permits.

Thresholds

If there are thresholds that are tall and hard to roll over at your home, or there are small changes in floor elevation, you can use threshold ramps specifically made for that problem. Some are made with an adjustable aluminum frame and others of pre-formed recycled rubber. Both are quick and easy to install.

These threshold ramps are the most common type of ramps and are usually permanently installed at busy doorways. You can view a complete assortment of them on our website, Caregiver-Aid.com.

Finally, be sure to consider the width of the scooter or wheelchair you intend to use and all the doorways you need to pass through. You can learn more about width considerations of wheelchair use in your home by viewing our article Choosing a Wheelchair.

 

Not being able to fit through important doorways is the number one reason for wheelchair returns.

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