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A wheelchair ramp is an inclined plane installed in addition to or instead of stairs. Ramps permit wheelchair users, as well as people pushing strollers, carts, or other wheeled objects, to more easily access a building.
A wheelchair ramp can be permanent, semi-permanent or portable. Permanent ramps are designed to be bolted or otherwise attached in place. Semi-permanent ramps rest on top of the ground or concrete pad and are commonly used for the short term. Permanent and semi-permanent ramps are usually of aluminum, concrete or wood. Portable ramps are usually aluminum and typically fold for ease of transport. Portable ramps are primarily intended for home and building use but can also be used with vans to load an unoccupied mobility device or to load an occupied mobility device when both the device and the passenger are easy to handle.
Ramps must be carefully designed in order to be useful. Many jurisdictions have established minimum widths and maximum slopes. A less steep rise can be easier for a wheelchair user to navigate, as well as safer in icy climates.
Wheelchair ramps (or other ways for wheelchair users to access a building, such as a wheelchair lift) are required in new construction for public accommodations in the United States by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In the U.S.A, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires a slope of no more than 1:12 for wheelchairs and scooters for business and public use, which works out to 1 foot of ramp for each inch of rise. For example, a 20-inch rise requires a minimum of 20 foot in length of ramp. Additionally, ADA limits the longest single span of ramp, prior to a rest or turn platform, to 30 feet.
Ramps can be as long as needed, but no single run of ramp can exceed 30 feet. Residential Applications usually are not required to meet ADA standards (ADA is a commercial code).
The UK's guidelines as recommended by the DDA are a maximum of 1:12 for ramps (with exceptions for existing buildings) "Ramps should be as shallow as possible. The maximum permissible gradient is 1:12 [...], with the occasional exception in the case of short, steeper ramps when refitting existing buildings."
In Australia, the Australian Standards Council requires a wheelchair ramp to have a maximum incline of 1 in 14. This means that for every 14 meters travelled horizontally, the ramp rises 1 meter. The wheelchair ramp must also have a minimum width of 1 m.
Wheelchair accessible vehicles may also include a ramp to facilitate entry and exit. These may be built-in or portable designs. Most major automotive companies offer rebates for portable ramps and mobility access equipment for new vehicles.
- "2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design". US Department of Justice. September 15, 2010.
- "ADA Wheelchair Ramp Specs". Mobility Advisor.
- "Basingstoke and Deane - Designing for Accessibility" (PDF). Centre for Accessible Environments. Retrieved September 2004.
- "Design Manual - Barrier Free Access 2008, Chapter 4, Division 5 - Ramps" (PDF). Buildings Department, Hong Kong. Retrieved 2012-06-17.
- "Access: Guidelines and information". Retrieved May 2015.
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