Wheelchair Ramps - Part 1

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Building A Wheelchair Ramp

A wheelchair ramp, as shown in Figure 1, can be an important part of a home's accessibility. It is probably one of the first things that goes through someone's mind when home accessibility is under discussion.

A wheelchair ramp can be built out of wood, concrete, asphalt, crushed gravel or a combination of two or more of these different materials.

This article will discuss a wheelchair ramp that is primarily made of wood (post foundations use concrete for stability).

Wheelchair ramp

Figure 1 - Wheelchair ramp

It is impossible to provide a definitive set of building plans for a wheelchair ramp, because every wheelchair ramp has to be built to rise to a specific height from ground level. As well, the wheelchair ramp must accommodate the realities of property dimensions and the physical impairments that are part of the property.

There are three basic design factors for a wheelchair ramp:

  1. The slope of the wheelchair ramp should not be less than 1:12. Which means that the wheelchair ramp should not rise more than 1 inch for every 12 inches of ramp length, as shown in Figure 2.

Rise of wheelchair ramp should be a maximum of 1" for every 12" of ramp (1:12)

Figure 2 - Rise of wheelchair ramp should be a maximum of 1 inch for every 12 inches of ramp (1:12)

  1. For every 30 feet (maximum), of wheelchair ramp rise there must be a landing. The wheelchair ramp landing must be a minimum of 5 feet long, as shown in Figure 3. The purpose of the landings are to literally give the wheelchair operator a spot where they can rest, if necessary.

Wheelchair ramp - ratio of ramps and landings

Figure 3 - Wheelchair ramp - position of ramps and landings

  1. The wheelchair ramp should be a minimum of 36 inches wide.

Building a wheelchair ramp uses the same basic construction techniques that are used for building a deck.

Wheelchair Ramp Layout:

  1. Determine the height of the entry door that the wheelchair ramp is to provide access too.

Laser level

Figure 4 - Laser level


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