Guide to Wheelchair Ramps

More than 5.5 million Americans use wheelchairs. If you’re looking to make them feel more welcome in your business, a wheelchair ramp is a good place to start.

You have a lot of choices in the type and placement of a ramp, and the benefits extend to any of your customers who might struggle to navigate stairs.

Let’s look at the rules for wheelchair ramps, the types you might consider, and who needs to have them.

Wheelchair Ramp Rules

The Americans with Disabilities Act sets the rules for commercial wheelchair ramps. If you’re looking at adding or building a wheelchair ramp to allow access to your space, you need to be aware of the standards.

The basic ADA rules for commercial wheelchair ramps include:

  • Maximum slope of 1:12
  • Minimum 36 inches wide
  • Landing size of at least five feet
  • Level landing at top and bottom
  • Protected edges

Most businesses fall into the category of public accommodation and must have a ramp per the ADA rules. This includes many transportation providers like taxis and buses, which should have a ramp or lift available on some of their fleet.

Commercial Ramp Types

Most ramp types available are defined by how and where they are used. You have options and choices if you need something temporary or not at your main door. These listed here fall outside of the concrete ones that are usually built as part of the sidewalk.

Threshold Ramps

Threshold ramps turn a curb or doorway into a traversable space. They’re typically rather short and used on either side of a doorway to create an easy, cost-effective solution to get wheels over a small barrier.

Modular Ramps

A modular ramp allows you to install a permanent or temporary fixture out of interchangeable parts. They go up quickly and are usually made from aluminum for outdoor, commercial use. You can get a metal wheelchair ramp with handrails, stairs, and platforms to meet any need as well as ADA requirements.

Vehicle Ramps

For commercial use, a vehicle wheelchair ramp would be installed for use on a public bus or taxi, for example. Smaller vehicles can make use of a rear-entry or infloor side-entry ramp like the ones we offer from Simple Stow. Both slide in and out manually and snap into place for use.

Larger vehicles like buses are more likely to be using electric ramps, which are hydraulically operated to fold out from a low floor. They come as self-contained units that can handle as much as 1,000 pounds and meet ADA requirements

Portable Ramps

While a portable indoor wheelchair ramp might sound like a good solution if you don’t have a way to add a ramp to your building, most of the time they aren’t going to be ADA compliant. This is because you can’t always control the amount of slope, and they don’t come with handrails. As a result, they aren’t appropriate for use in a commercial setting.

Upgrade Your Accessibility

Most US businesses need a wheelchair ramp to meet the ADA requirements, and this includes those involved in transportation. Ramps for vehicles are quite different from wheelchair ramps for homes or buildings but serve the same important purpose of improving accessibility for everyone.

If you’re interested in getting into a paratransit business or need to add vehicle accessibility to your vehicle fleet, contact a BraunAbility dealer to talk about your options and get additional information on our commercial products.

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