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Types of Portable Wheelchair Ramps
Wheelchair accessibility is essential when traveling and at home, but many people are unaware of the options available. There are a number of portable wheelchair ramps with various materials, sizes, and styles. You will need to choose the one that best fits your mobility needs and lifestyle.
Several types of ramps will be necessary to accommodate vehicle travel, home access, and things like bath safety. We will be focusing on wheelchair ramps though most of these can be used by a variety of mobility assistance devices. Portable wheelchair ramps have non-slip coverings and are designed to make it straightforward to get into and out of vehicles, up problematic rises and small staircases, and onto otherwise inaccessible landings, patios, or sidewalks.
The main kind of ramps we will cover are the following.
- Threshold (door wedge)
Each section includes a description and information on how it would be useful in day-to-day life. Not every ramp is going to be useful to everyone, so this guide will help you find the one that is perfect for the needs of yourself or a loved one. The slope, length, and width of a ramp are vital for determining how it can be best utilized. We will go over dimensions to make it easier for you to choose the right wheelchair ramp. They are designed to last for years, which means you will want to take the time to make sure the ramp that you purchase will do everything you will need.
Many threshold ramps are shaped like a wedge and can come in one or more sections. Rubber and aluminum are the two most common materials for portable ramps because they are light, strong, can be made in various dimensions, and still hold up to stress. Wooden, steel, and concrete ramps are usually more permanent fixtures of locations like homes or businesses.
Threshold ramps are used to transition from one level to another, and they are usually seen at doorways, sidewalks, and raised landings. If you are looking for a ramp to place in your doorways or different levels inside and outside your home, these are a perfect option. While threshold ramps can be made to fit any space, the most common sizes have a length between 24" and 48" with widths of between 8" and 42". Some will be self-supporting, while others may have separate support structures like those seen with several rollable ramps.
For any ramp, you will want to pay special attention to how much weight it is capable of handling to make sure it fits the guidelines as presented by the manufacturer of all your mobility devices. You can also read what previous customers had to say about how well the ramp held up to their expectations
Folding wheelchair ramps can be used for anything from doorways, vehicles, and curbs to raised landings. These are folded for easier storage during transportation and can be taken pretty much anywhere. You can get folding ramps in various lengths and dimensions depending on your need.
The most common are tri-fold ramps though there are also bi-fold ramps available. The difference is in the length of ramp. To disassembled them, you simply fold them over one to three times, depending on the size. They have easy-grip handles to make them more manageable. Some features you may see include rails, non-slip mats, and lips for doorways. They can be between five and ten feet in length with a width of around 30" and a weight capacity of up to eight hundred pounds.
Single-fold ramps are sometimes referred to as suitcase ramps. They fold lengthwise like a piece of luggage. These ramps are lightweight, strong, and slip-resistant. The dimensions and features available will depend on what style and brand you are looking at, but most will be a combination of aluminum and rubber. The majority of suitcase ramps are between two and eight feet long.
The benefit of telescoping track ramps is that they can work on a variety of rises because they can extend and contract as needed. They have a number of different sections that can be used to provide more length to the ramp. They are also easy to transport since they can be contracted down to a manageable size.
These are a little different than the ones we have mentioned so far. While folding ramps are one large track that can accommodate a full wheelchair, telescoping ramps are tracks, so you have two that come as a set. The benefit of this is that you can use the same telescoping ramp in various environments with multiple sizes of wheelchairs.
The average size of rollable ramps is between 26″ and 36" with a weight capacity of 1,000 pounds. You will want to check specific ramps before purchase, but overall these are very strong, secure options. They have tread covered sections that can be disassembled into much smaller pieces. Most roll up like scrolls, which makes them compact for transport and storage when not in use. These are easily the most convenient ramps for people who do not want to deal with moving bulky ramps in and out of place. The disassemble is equally straightforward. It can be kept in place with brackets or plates for additional security.
There are add-on features that you can get for some brands of rollable ramps. This includes high side rails. They can be as short or as long as you need because the sections can be taken off or added on easily. The weight of a rollable ramp will depend on how wide it is. They can vary between 12" and 48" in width. It is worth noting that while you can adjust the length as desired, you cannot adjust the width once you purchase the ramp. That is a set dimension.
These are freestanding ramps that require a separate support structure to keep them off the ground. They are great as both temporary and permanent ramp options, and unlike most others, you can buy modular ramps in sections to accommodate the space. Modular ramps are highly flexible and come in sections of various shapes and heights so you can customize your ramp for your space. Unlike other ramps, you can adjust the path so that it goes around large obstacles like trees, utility boxes, or permanent decorative items. They also come equipped with high rails for protection.
They can be set up by one or two people and usually have a tongue and groove system for securing the various sections to one another. The great thing about modular ramps is that if there is an accident and one part gets damaged, you do not have to replace the whole ramp and can instead simply repair or replace the affected section. While they can be assembled relatively easily, these are not considered truly portable ramps because they require an effort to erect and are meant to be used on a semi-permanent basis. The slope is usually adjustable, and you can purchase them at the width and weight capacity of your choice.
These are usually made of materials that can be disassembled if required. Modular ramps are an excellent example of a semi-permanent ramp. They are made of exceptionally strong and sturdy materials, have several sections that can be broken up as needed and can withstand being in one place for years. These are great for homes and businesses to ensure accessibility. If you choose to get one, then you will need to have it inspected to ensure it meets various accessibility codes.
Commercial or public buildings often have permanent ramps that are built into the architecture of the space. These can be made of steel, concrete, or a combination of the two. The most common configuration is constructed of steel that is bolted permanently into the concrete. There are strict guidelines and regulations for permanent ramp fixtures that you will need to follow if you choose to install one at your place of business or home.
How Do I Choose A Wheelchair Ramp?
Finding the right wheelchair ramp will depend on several important factors, including location, amount of vertical rise, need for portability, weight capacity, environment, and what type of additional features you might require, such as a support structure or handrails. If you are getting a threshold ramp for a doorway, you will need to make sure there is room for the door to open and close easily.
Most ramps are designed to be used indoors or outdoors, so weather and location are not such a big factor, but you will want to make certain that longer ramps will fit in the area provided around your home or vehicle.
The very first thing you will want to do before shopping for ramps online is to visit the manufacturer website for your mobility device and determine what ramp details they have listed. Most will have specifics about what types of ramps are going to be safe for your wheelchair. This includes their weight capacity, height, length, and width, among other things. If you have more than one type of mobility device, you will want to check the specifications for all of them, make a list of features they recommend, and then use it to search for the right ramp.
For people who travel quite a bit, having a portable wheelchair ramp is essential, but you will want to make sure the one that you buy is easily transported, does not take up too much space, and can be quickly set up. Most are made of lightweight materials and can fold or extend to some degree. You will want to look at their ease of assembly and what kind of assistive features they have, such as handles.
How To Calculate The Length Of A Ramp?
When taking measurements for a ramp installation, you will need to measure the area's rise and length. Portable wheelchair ramps should be able to get you into and out of your home, up curbs, into places you intend to visit routinely, and they should also fit your vehicle. Depending on what kind you get, there might be a single ramp that you will be able to use for all your accessibility needs for the next few years.
There are a few additional challenges if you want something around your business or home. You may require a building permit for certain permanent or semi-permanent ramps, especially if they are in a public space where there are certain requirements. It will depend on the local housing codes for other buildings, but many require a permit and inspection for any ramp that extends above 30 inches.
When determining the length of ramp for stairs, the Americans With Disability Act (ADA) recommends that for every inch of rise between the two surfaces, there should be a foot of ramp. You will need to take into account any environmental challenges that might make it harder to place a ramp, such as curved doorways or angled steps. Lip extensions will need to be taken into account as well when you measure out the length.
Maximum Allowable Slope For A Ramp
You will want to ensure that the ramp incline is not too steep. When measuring out the length and determining the vertical rise of the area, it is best to go with the ramp with the least possible slope. We previously mentioned the 1:12 inch ratio recommended by the ADA. The maximum rise without a landing for that ratio should be thirty inches. This equals approximately five degrees of incline, which the ADA determined is the highest degree of slope most ramps should possess. For shorter distances, a ratio of 1:8 inches is sometimes used. Before choosing the slope for your ramp, check to ensure that there are not any local city or state guidelines that could affect your ability to utilize the ramp after inspection.