Wheelchair ramps have become a staple in American businesses, thankfully.  In 1990 the American with Disabilities Act set forth guidelines that make it law that places that operate for the public must allow equal access to all people making wheelchair ramps a staple in our culture.  The act allows for a zero tolerance attitude when it comes to discrimination against the disabled and their access into public buildings.

When thinking about installing wheelchair accessible access to your home or business consider hiring a contractor.  Professional handicap ramp installers are trained in the guidelines set forth by the ADA. They have a trained eye when it comes to obstacles that hinder the use of public spaces for people with disabilities or special needs.  Professionals also know the regulations when it comes to building a ramp, the best materials to use and measures to make the ramp accessible and safe for use with wheelchairs, walkers and other devices that make mobility easier for those with special circumstances.

The ADA does list specifications on their website for do it yourselfers.  If you have decided to tackle building a ramp you will need to review specifications and research materials.  Wood ramps are beautiful and blend well into existing landscapes.   The one drawback is that wood requires yearly maintenance.  This might be offset by the difference in price that exists between metal ramps and wooden ramps.

Ramps Specifications:

1)      The minimum width for a wheelchair ramp is thirty six inches.  This is the amount of space that is needed to comfortably maneuver a wheelchair on a ramp.  Widths can be larger to accommodate two-way traffic.  Most often you will see ramps built wider for this purpose.  Of course if this is a ramp you are installing at your home you most likely don’t have to worry about that issue.

2)      Wheelchair accessible ramps must contain railings/edges to keep users safe from spilling over the side. It is recommended to build the ramp with side rails that include handrails.

3)      All ramps must have a landing where the door meets the ramps.  This landing has to be a minimum of sixty inches long.  This allows for the door to easily swing in or out and leaves the wheelchair user room to maneuver around.

4)      It is necessary that nonslip and slip resistant materials be used for the floor of the ramp.  This makes it a lot safer especially when the weather is less than dry.

These are guidelines that are set forth by the ADA you should look into your local regulations and areas specifications to determine any other needs you might run in to when building your wheelchair accessible ramps.

When deciding what type of material is should be used consider the weight of the wheelchair and occupant and it is also important to remember that electric wheelchairs are heavier and need to be accommodated for.  It is also important that materials such as screws are used instead of nails.  Wood should be pretreated to prevent rot.  Anchor bolts should be used to secure the support posts to the houses structure to add support.  Also make sure that the slope and angle are correct.  Slopes that are too steep make it difficult for wheelchairs to go up and too fast to control on descend.  Also, include a beveled section at the end of the ramp to allow for a gradual exit and entrance.

Ramps are very common in today’s landscape.  The designs and selections available to make them a natural piece of your home or business are endless.  Make sure you take it to account the end user for your ramp project and follow regulations and guidelines set forth by the ADA and local authorities.  If you do you will be pleased with the end result.