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What place is accessibility more important than in your own home? Getting around homes with stairs or level changes often calls for wheelchair ramps. For doorways or a few steps, you can purchase a threshold ramp. However for greater heights, you'll need to think about getting a wheelchair ramp created from your local builder. To figure out the length you'll need to create wheelchair ramps in your home, remember the slope will need to be a minimum of 1:12. That means for every foot of height, you'll need 12 feet of length to accommodate the wheelchair ramp. Also check with your local building codes to see if there are any restrictions for building in the outside areas of your home.
Accessibility issues can make mobility difficult in some areas. However, with the availability of portable wheelchair ramps, you have even more freedom to go where you want - and need to. Portable wheelchair ramps can be used to create pathways in your home, and they make travel much more wheelchair accessible.
Sometimes, wheelchair access calls for stationary ramps to make areas accessible. For a convenient solution requiring minimal assembly, you can use stationary ramps. Some will even comply with ADA codes, eliminating the need for building construction.
Modular Ramps – Modular ramps offer a quick solution to providing accessibility while meeting ADA codes. Both installation and removal take little time and these ramps work for residential and commercial construction. You can also configure these ramps based on the layout you need.
Pathway Ramps – As a long-term or short-term solution to create wheelchair access at landings and other level changes in the home, pathway ramps work well.
The cost of equipment to help keep you moving where you want to go can be overwhelming. In general, expect to pay more for longer ramp lengths or higher threshold heights. If you're deciding between various wheelchair ramps to purchase, take a look at our guide to pricing.
Telescope Channel Ramps – These dual track wheelchair ramps typically will cost you from $200 to $500.
Threshold Ramps – You'll find these ramps tend to be more affordable among its wheelchair ramp counterparts. Expect to pay in the range of $50 to $200 for threshold ramps.
Folding Ramps – Folding ramps can be as little as $75 for a short two foot run or as much as $900 for a 12-foot run.
Roll-up Ramp – A roll-up ramp typically costs from $175 to $275.
Portable ramps make a convenient way to create accessibility whether you're away from home or creating wheelchair access where you live. However, you also need to consider some safety concerns when you use them. Keep in mind these safety concerns whenever you use portable ramps:
If you're looking for a portable wheelchair ramp, you'll need to figure out what ramp size to get. A portable wheelchair ramp can vary from 2 feet to 10 feet in length.
The ADA codes require a minimum slope of 1:12, which means you'll be going up an incline of five degrees. However, depending on the type of wheelchair you have and your physical needs, you may want an incline which is less steep. As a general rule, power wheelchair users can travel steeper inclines and maneuver around tighter spaces. With a manual wheelchair, you'll need a wider ramp and a shallower incline.
You can have housing accessibility through the use of a built-in ramp. There are a few ways to accomplish this. You can hire an independent builder to create one from scratch or you can get some assistance with comprehensive plans for a modular ramp. You don't have to have a tremendous budget to create housing accessibility for your living situation. The Minnesota Ramp Project has a package showing you how to build a modular ramp along with advice on finding financing and getting volunteer assistance to build. Print the modular ramp information free from the Home Wheelchair Ramp Project or purchase it through the Metropolitan Center for Independent Living.
Portable wheelchair ramps can help make mobility even easier. Whether you need portable wheelchair ramps for home or while you're out and about, you have several options to choose from.
Telescope Channel Ramps – These ramps offer flexibility in that they collapse to half their size for storage and easy transportability. They make a useful option for gaining stair access or curb access in your home where you wouldn't otherwise have it.
Threshold Ramps – The threshold ramps are short ramps used to navigate your wheelchair or scooter up a door threshold, a landing, or a curb.
Folding Ramps and Suitcase Ramps – Available in a variety of lengths, the suitcase ramps fold and come with a handle to make taking them with you on the road more convenient. You can use them to get over low steps, curbs, landings, and with most minivans.
Roll-Up Ramps – You can use these ramps as a bridge to get over stairs, landings and curbs.
Suitcase wheelchair ramps give an advantage to the wheelchair user for a number of reasons. If you're considering adding suitcase wheelchair ramps to help you get around, take a look at our list of benefits this mobility device will give you:
Shockingly enough, your boss has spent the money to upgrade your office so that is is wheelchair-accessible. Of course, there goes the raise you were hoping for, but still, you've just received a "raise" of your own as you move through the doorways without difficulty. However, the front threshold is another matter. Your boss is always forgetting to scan for viruses or to pick up dry cleaning, but you're determined he won't forget accessibility for long. Managers and higher-ups like people who show initiative. Present your boss with this bold idea: EZ-Edge threshhold wheelchair ramps. Tell him they meet his litmus test:
• They're EZ to install.
• They look good, and so does he.
• They're low-cost.
You can even use EZ-Edge inside at the thresholds to:
• Loading bays
• Boss's office
• IT departments (those guys are so busy saving the world they forget minor details)
Did we say you weren't going to get a raise? Turns out the boss likes your ingenuity. Oh, and you just earned a promotion. Threshold wheel chair ramps can even give your career a boost. Just remember to take all the people who helped you with the wheelchair ramps with you when you get that corner office.
You've built a cupola for the upstairs. You made a dollhouse for your daughter. You built a birdhouse. You set a boat afloat. Surely you can construct a custom wheel chair ramp so you or your loved one can ride up to the front or back entrance or both?
Building and using wheelchair ramps can't always be a piece of cake. Here are some tips before you head to Home Depot for this new weekend plan, Project Wheelchair Ramp:
• Use the same wood as the wood in your house. If it's sturdy enough for your walls, it will support a wheelchair or scooter.
• Aluminum or steel wheelchair ramps are durable. Buy sheets of metal that you can weld together if necessary.
• Remember, steeper ramps are more dangerous. If the distance is 24 inches, incline the ramp 2 inches (one unit of height to twelve units of distance).
• Check the board length and the overall ramp width (36 to 48 inches is recommended) to make sure they're up to code.
• Have your child pop a wheelie up the ramp. If it holds, it's probably solid enough for a wheelchair.
You're measuring the doorways, the stairs, and your car. Your friends say you should have your own show on HGTV: "Designing with Accessibility." You're already picking out what you'll wear. At least they appreciate how complex the art of building and using wheelchair ramps can be. But, before you sign a contract, don't forget to measure your wheelchair ramp, especially if you need help propelling yourself up the ramp.
Caregivers can be annoying, exasperating, loving, fun, and sometimes the only thing you can count on. Plus, yours is demanding a cut of the revenue from your show. But they're necessary, and they can actually shorten the length of your wheelchair ramps. The ADA recommends one foot of wheel chair ramp length per one inch of vertical rise, but you can shorten that by a factor of .5 if your caregiver is pushing and .33 if you have a power chair or scooter. Say you need 25 feet. Shorten that to 12.5 feet with your caregiver. If you can power yourself up the ramp with an electric power wheelchair, shorten that to 8.25 feet. Independence does indeed have its rewards. And, remember the 1 to 12 ratio: one foot of rise per 12 feet, which means that 8.25-foot ramp will be just shy of a foot high.
As would-be host of your own show, you know that the ADA specs are just a place to start. After all, you know your way around your home better than anyone. And you've already planned your daytime Emmy acceptance speech. What to wear, Isaac Mizrahi or Badgley Mischka? And what is your caregiver going to wear?
Flying's getting worse these days. Homeland Security screenings (though we all know they're necessary), taking your shoes off, buying box lunches with tasteless chicken sandwiches, missed connections...the last thing you need to worry about is accessibility.
A single-fold safety suitcase wheel chair ramp can't get through the metal detector, and sadly, there goes your one carry-on, but portable wheelchair ramps may help when you're confronted with steps and curbs at the airport. You won't even have a problem storing portable wheel chair ramps in the increasingly crowded overhead bins. Except for a first-class upgrade, a suitcase wheelchair ramp is your best friend when flying.
If you want to check your suitcase wheelchair ramp, store it in a regular suitcase or duffel--there are multiple sizes that can fit small duffels or oversize trunks. You might want to carry an extra one in case the airline loses your luggage!
You broke your leg in a skiing accident, or you took a nosedive off the pier. Either way, you're in a wheelchair for six months, or longer. You rented the chair, and now you're having difficulty with normal activities. The curb outside work seems too steep, or those college library steps are difficult to navigate. Or your mother-in-law is coming to stay and she doesn't complain about accessibility—so you feel guilty and want to work harder to make her comfortable. Perhaps you're temping and your workplace wasn't designed for people with wheelchairs. You hate to be late because you can't get through the door.
Whatever your reason for needing a ramp, here's good news: You can rent portable wheel chair ramps. Companies such as American Access offer temporary portable wheelchair ramps.
A few tips before you rent:
• Make sure the company can rent to you indefinitely or for the length of time you need.
• Determine whether you need a telescoping van ramp for your mother-in-law or just a wedge that can help you get through the door.
• If you can, test the temporary portable wheelchair ramp with your wheelchair or take your mother-in-law--make it a shopping and lunch outing!
So now you're on the mend, or your mother-in-law is happy. The drawback: Your mother-in-law announces she's staying another month, and she's already complaining about the way you overcook vegetables. Not to worry—rental companies, like portable wheel chair ramps, are flexible.
Your three-wheel scooter can get around. Cue '60s music: "I get around, get around, I get around." Your scooter can tear up the pavement. Luckily, you don't use it all the time—you're sitting in your desk at college or at work before people finish eating your dust.
But one day you hit a snag: The aluminum wheelchair ramp over the front steps doesn't look like it can hold your scooter. Suddenly you're singing Del Shannon's "Runaway."
Not to worry. If the wheelchair ramp is a PVI solid aluminum wheel chair ramp, you know that according to the ADA, it's got to be at least 36-48 inches wide and accommodate your scooter. Load capacities for wheel chair ramps are usually 600 to 800 pounds, a snap if you have the Easy Light Scooter, weighing in at 53 pounds (heaviest part is 20), or the Mini Moxie, with its heaviest part weighing 45 pounds. Oh...and PVI aluminum wheelchair ramps work for power wheelchairs too (also racing bikes).
Even if your scooter is a monster-truck Peter Fonda-type "Easy Rider," you'll have no problem rolling up and down aluminum PVI wheelchair ramps. Cue "Born To Be Wild"! Buiding and using wheelchair ramps don't have to be difficult tasks.
It's the first day of school, a new school. And you've just moved for the fifth time. You're ten and you're in a Quickie Zippie wheelchair. Your school doesn't have a wheelchair ramp. There are only seven steps between you and the front door of the school but they might as well be a hundred.
We know it's scary, but you can flash the kids and teachers your famous smile as your dad or mom grabs an EZ-Access portable wheelchair ramp or portable suitcase ramp. Whether you have a 2-foot ramp or a five-foot ramp, the aluminum surface is kind of cool, like the slides on the playground. You smile and say, "Hey, this is fun, try it," as you motor up the ramp. Your dad's watching protectively, but that's okay. You wave to him. You're safe. He can go...you're late for first period.
You might want to watch out, some of the kids might try to hot dog it with skateboards using your ramp. Your dad will have a fit, but hey, it's a dad thing. Making a big entrance on the first day of school, it seems, is your thing and, when you're carrying portable wheel chair ramps, it's definitely not a bad thing anymore.
Decisions, decisions...it seems kids don't make many. Adults make them all. But you're in your power or manual wheelchair, and the adults are listening to you, at home and at school.
School's supposed to be accessible and the front entrance is. The side doors, however, like the auditorium doors, don't have wheel chair ramps. The last time someone raised such a fuss was when the cafeteria served bad meatloaf. At home, too, there isn't a wheelchair ramp in the backyard—your mom has those high steps leading to the deck. You can't make too many demands at home, but your school has to accommodate you.
The question is, however, do you select a modular wheelchair ramp or a pathway ramp? Think for a minute because building and using wheelchair ramps is something not to be taken lightly. A pathway ramp is more for temporary use at home and in school. You'll be in school for what feels like the next hundred years, and you aren't the only kid in a wheelchair.
Modular wheelchair ramps, with their switchback configurations, can get you onto the deck at home and into the auditorium at school. You know the adults want to do the right thing. Tell them you'll do extra homework. Appeal to their desire not to deprive you of studying and tests. Now that the new wheelchair ramp helped you into school, you have another pressing dilemma: To eat or not to eat the meatloaf?
You're fed up with air travel and you want to take the bus or train to see the sights—or you're a runaway bride on a Greyhound bus. Your only worry: Can you get on the bus? Will you miss the train trying to board it? Not if you're carrying portable wheelchair ramps.
Portable wheel chair ramps work as well as they do in the airport—better, since you don't have to go through the metal detector. Since they fit on your wheelchair, you can keep them with you as opposed to the baggage compartment. Perfect when you're worrying about being recognized in a worldwide media campaign. You don't want to have to think about your portable wheelchair ramp too.
If you're powering your own chair without assistance, you don't have to rely on anyone else. Portable wheel chair ramps let you get on the bus easily.
You've become the Americans with Disabilities Act expert but your boss can quote the provisions even better. When your boss says he needs to move the modular wheelchair ramp to the back because of construction in the front office, you panic. Granted, as long as the building is wheelchair-accessible, you're in compliance. But you're nervous—can you move that big bulky ramp with a switchback?
Your boss knows what's good for the business. A modular wheelchair ramp can be moved from the front entrance to the back entrance for temporary construction—just make sure that every door is barrier-free. Although that back entrance had a wheelchair ramp, it's nothing compared to this modular beauty, which can deliver you right to the back door you have difficulty reaching.
Once construction is through, you request another wheel chair ramp for the front door. Oh wait, your boss has already done it. You realize that you're a little fuzzy on the ADA, so you ask your boss to refresh your memory. Way to ramp up your rapport with the boss and your career!
A recent wheelchair ramp innovation involves the use of fiberglass, which improves the transportability of the equipment. Why? Very simply – weight. Fiberglass wheelchair ramps are made of non-corrosive glass fibers and lightweight enough to carry on the back of your wheelchair in a carrying bag.
You're nervous as it is going to your cousin's wedding. After all, you never got along with that side of the family. The last thing you need is to worry about falling off your portable wheelchair ramp.
If you do make a negative impression at the wedding it might be because you drank too much rather than that you had problems with your suitcase wheelchair ramp.
A portable wheelchair ramp or a suitcase wheelchair ramp is designed to be sturdy--steel aluminum and fiberglass are durable. Of course you've selected your ramp with the correct weight in mind. Even if your not so favorite aunt says you've gained weight, you'll know you haven't.
Suitcase portable wheel chair ramps have side guards, so you can't roll off the edge, and you're still stone cold sober, right? You won't start "weaving" on the wheelchair ramp.
So other than fending off well-meaning relatives who ask when you're going to tie the knot, you have no worries...about your suitcase wheelchair ramp, anyway.
You're a wheeling dealing wheelie-popping kid in your kid power wheelchair who rules the playground—you think, ramps are no problem. After all, you've ridden up the concrete ones on sidewalks and at the entrances to buildings. You're safe and careful. You may be careful, but you may not be safe.
While wheel chair ramps can hold sports wheelchairs and power wheelchairs as well as three-wheel scooters, you need to be safe. Your dad may have let you pop a wheelie up the front ramp at your house just to test the ramp he made himself but you need to be a little less of a daredevil. Hospitals cramp your style. Some hints:
• If the rail is broken or wobbly, tell an adult.
• Check to see that you can get off the ramp and transition onto the slide or swings
• Watch for color indicators that mark an increase or decrease in slope.
• Raised pits (hurray, sand and dirt), should have a ramp so you can zoom up there and get your face in the dirt.
• Watch for ramps that are wet, or where your wheelchair skids.
Now that you're safe—at least as far as the grownups are concerned—you can go back to being the queen of the playground.
Your Colours Impact Sports Chair is ready for full-court action in the gym. You and your teammates don't have a wheelchair sports arena so you're making do this once with the rec. center. Unfortunately, the building's not up to code. They didn't get many wheelchair players...until you. But while they're building a modular ramp, they suggest a temporary wheelchair ramp called the Pathway Ramp to install at the entrance.
The Pathway wheel chair ramp looks like it'll collapse...kind of like the other team's defensive line. Your Impact chair is lean and mean, but also large and in charge. The frame is 20 pounds, you weigh 250. Can pathway wheel chair ramps survive the impact? Actually, yes. Better than the other team's defense. Pathway wheelchair ramps can withstand up to 850 pounds, or three players at once rolling into the gym.
You never know what you'll encounter in Phnom Penh, Chiang Mai, Istanbul or Cannes. That's the allure of international travel. The downside: If you're in a wheelchair, you don't know what accessibility issues you'll deal with, either.
You compromised in Japan by leaving your shoes at the door but staying in your wheelchair. You've successfully bridged cultural and language barriers (tip: avoid discussing politics). You shouldn't be stopped by barriers to accessibility.
Many historic buildings, like East Coast structures in America, weren't designed for wheelchairs. Risk being the ugly American and carry a suitcase wheelchair ramp for thresholds of ancient Buddhist temples and narrow Dutch hallways.
If you can, check the doorway heights and research those ancient monuments. You'll need a telescoping portable wheelchair ramp for, say, ancient Greek temples as opposed to a simple suitcase wheelchair ramp for the taverna. And, if space is a premium in that boutique hotel or hostel, a suitcase wheelchair ramp doesn't take up much room.
You're ready for adventure and the ramps you've packed will help you to achieve a lifetime of memories. It might not be so easy, however, to explain why you've just ordered a broiled sneaker in that Paris cafe. But if you can speak French passably, you can do anything.
You've created your own wheel chair ramp—you DIY demon, you. Now everyone's coming to you for advice about everything from painting the deck to installing a hot tub. Only if you can be the first to try the hot tub! While you're waiting for your first soak, however, the wheel chair ramps look like they're missing something. The answer is simple: Posts. How do you create your own? Put these tips on a Post-It Note:
• HGTV's Fix It Up! hosts Pat Simpson and Jodi Marks suggest using concrete piers that allow you to put posts on the ground without digging and pouring concrete. Mucking about with a shovel interferes with your hot tub time.
• Check your state, local, and federal building codes. You don't want your soak in the hot tub to be rudely interrupted by a local building inspector or health official.
• Make sure the boards are 2x6 inches or 2x8 inches and that the whole ramp is 36 to 48 inches wide to safely support your chair and you.
• Add a toe rail along the handrail to keep your wheelchair from rolling off the ramp.
Now that you've created the perfect ramp, you can enjoy a cold drink and a well-deserved soak...in your new hot tub. Your neighbors inspired you.
As drivers and environmentalists alike complain, SUVs, vans and trucks are getting too darn large. You feel at times as though you're contributing to the trend. You may have a specially designed wheelchair van if you are a single or double amputee. Specially designed vans or trucks were never meant to be compact cars.
So in addition to the grumbles and looks you get when you try to park what feels like the Queen Mary, you worry about getting out of your van easily. The specialty van was invented for a reason, and so was the portable wheelchair ramp, or as it's often called, the suitcase wheelchair ramp. Don't be fooled: Suitcase portable wheel chair ramps are compact, but they're also capable of supporting you like the gangplank of the Queen Mary.
For example, the E-Z Access Telescoping Platform Suitcase Ramp can extend between 4-8 feet and hold a weight capacity of 850 pounds. It can accommodate heavyweight scooters and wheelchairs. You can blithely pack up the ramp when you're finished--at least one thing about your van is compact! Anyone who stares is just a landlubber.
There are many excellent portable wheelchair ramps for use with vans, and on that road trip to see the Queen Mary, it's helpful to have a suitcase wheelchair ramp that fits into your suitcase (which you won't lose unless you happen to drive withing shouting distance of an airport.) Just make sure the ramp is non-skid, telescoping, and the proper width--30 inches is a good average length.
Don't be surprised if people shout, "Ahoy, sailor, permission to come aboard!" You might have a little trouble from Captain Ahabs if your van is white, but have no fear, Greenpeace may stop griping about your gas and rush to the rescue.
Suitcase wheelchair ramps are just one type of mobility aid that will help you get around your home with ease. Mobility aids, such as a lift chairs and lift cushions, are complimentory additions to your suitcase wheelchair ramp. All 3 will give you freedom in movement.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|