Wheelchair ramp

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A concrete wheelchair ramp Mairie de Boinville-le-Gaillard 4.jpg
A concrete wheelchair ramp
A portable wheelchair ramp Chartres, Hotel Montescot 08 rampe PMR.jpg
A portable wheelchair ramp

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, or navigate between areas of different height. Ramps for accessibility may predate the wheelchair and are found in ancient Greece. [1]


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. In many places, laws dictate a ramp's minimum width and maximum slope. [2] [3]

In general, reduced incline rises are easier for wheelchair users to traverse and are safer in icy climates. However, they consume more space and require traveling a greater distance to go up. Hence, in some cases it is preferable to include an elevator or other type of wheelchair lift. [4]

In many countries, wheelchair ramps and other features to facilitate universal access are required by building code when constructing new facilities which are open to the public. Internationally, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities mandates nations take action to "enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life." Among other requirements, it compels countries to institute "minimum standards and guidelines..." for accessibility. [5]

Design Standards

In the US, 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 (305 mm) of ramp for each one inch (25.4 mm) of rise. For example, a 20-inch (510 mm) rise requires a minimum of 20 feet (6.10 m) in length of ramp. Additionally, ADA limits the longest single span of ramp, prior to a rest or turn platform, to 30 feet (9.14 m). [2] [3]

Ramps can be as long as needed, but no single run of ramp can exceed 30 feet (9.14 m). Residential Applications usually are not required to meet ADA standards (ADA is a commercial code).

The UK's guidelines as recommended by the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and Equality Act 2010 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." [6]

Ramps can have a maximum going of 10 m (32 ft 10 in), beyond which there has to be a landing before continuing as a ramp. The maximum permissible gradient for non domestic dwellings, 1:12, applies to ramps with a going no greater than 2 m (6 ft 7 in). This equates to a maximum Rise of 133 mm (5 in). The gradient of the longest permissible ramp going of 10 m (32 ft 10 in) must not be steeper than 1:20. This equates to a maximum Rise of 500 mm (20 in). In between these two limits of ramp goings the allowable steepest gradient varies in a graduated way. This is shown in the Building Regulations 2004 Part M on a graph from which the reader is required to interpolate the allowable gradient. Alternatively, there is a simple calculation method which gives a very accurate result. The formulae for these are <reference ODPM>: (1) TO CALCULATE THE GOING FOR A KNOWN RISE (all dimensions in mm.) Going = (Rise X 10 000) / (1000 - Rise) Note. The calculated Going is the minimum allowable for the given Rise. (2) TO CALCULATE THE RISE FROM A KNOWN GOING (all dimensions in mm) Rise = (Going x 1000) / (Going + 10 000) Note. The calculated Rise is the maximum allowable for the given Going.

In Hong Kong, wheelchair ramp may not exceed a 1:12 slope for wheelchairs except in some situations under the Barrier Free Access (BFA) terms. [7]

In South Africa 1:12 max unless difference in level is less than 400mm in which case 1:10 max. [SANS 10400-S SS2(a)].

In Australia, the National Construction Code requires a wheelchair ramp to have a maximum incline of 1 in 8. This means that for every 8 metres (26 ft 3 in) travelled horizontally, the ramp rises 1 metre (3 ft 3 in). The wheelchair ramp must also have a minimum width of 1 metre (3 ft 3 in). [8]

Vehicle ramps

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.

See also

Related Research Articles

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 American law

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 or ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. It affords similar protections against discrimination to Americans with disabilities as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which made discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, and other characteristics illegal. In addition, unlike the Civil Rights Act, the ADA also requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, and imposes accessibility requirements on public accommodations.

Curb cut Lowered road-edge allowing level acces from pavement to road surface

A curb cut (U.S.), curb ramp, dropped kerb (UK), pram ramp, or kerb ramp (Australia) is a solid ramp graded down from the top surface of a sidewalk to the surface of an adjoining street. It is designed primarily for pedestrian usage and commonly found in urban areas where pedestrian activity is expected. In comparison with a conventional curb a curb cut is finished at an intermediate gradient that connects both surfaces, sometimes with tactile paving.

Stairs Construction designed to bridge a large vertical distance by dividing it into steps

A stairway, staircase, stairwell, flight of stairs, or simply stairs, is a construction designed to bridge a large vertical distance by dividing it into smaller vertical distances, called steps. Stairs may be straight, round, or may consist of two or more straight pieces connected at angles.

Accessibility design of products or services for people with temporary or permanent impairments

Accessibility in the sense considered here refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments so as to be usable by people with disabilities. The concept of accessible design and practice of accessible development ensures both "direct access" and "indirect access" meaning compatibility with a person's assistive technology.

Paratransit transportation service for people with disabilities

Paratransit is the term used in North America, also known by other names such as community transport (UK) for transportation services that supplement fixed-route mass transit by providing individualized rides without fixed routes or timetables. Paratransit services may vary considerably on the degree of flexibility they provide their customers. At their simplest they may consist of a taxi or small bus that will run along a more or less defined route and then stop to pick up or discharge passengers on request. At the other end of the spectrum—fully demand responsive transport—the most flexible paratransit systems offer on-demand call-up door-to-door service from any origin to any destination in a service area. In addition to public transit agencies, paratransit services may be operated by community groups or not-for-profit organizations, and for-profit private companies or operators.

Handrail Rail that is designed to be grasped by the hand so as to provide stability or support

A handrail is a rail that is designed to be grasped by the hand so as to provide stability or support. Handrails are commonly used while ascending or descending stairways and escalators in order to prevent injurious falls. Handrails are typically supported by posts or mounted directly to walls.

Mobility scooter Mobility aid

A mobility scooter is an electric vehicle and mobility aid equivalent or auxiliary to a wheelchair but configured like a motorscooter. When motorized they are commonly referred to as a power-operated vehicle/scooter or electric scooter as well. Non-motorized mobility scooters are less common, but are intended for the estimated 60% of wheelchair users who have at least some use of their legs.

Wheelchair accessible van

A wheelchair-accessible van is a vehicle that has been modified by increasing the interior size of the vehicle and equipping it with a means of wheelchair entry, such as a wheelchair ramp or powered lift.

Visitability is the design approach for new housing such that anyone who uses a wheelchair or other mobility device should be able to visit. A social visit requires the ability to get into the house, to pass through interior doorways, and enter a bathroom to use the toilet. Visitability stresses specific accessibility features from a social reform perspective, and counters social isolation.

Tactile paving system of textured ground surface indicators to assist pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired

Tactile paving is a system of textured ground surface indicators found on footpaths, stairs and railway station platforms, to assist pedestrians who are vision impaired.

Grab bar

Grab bars are safety devices designed to enable a person to maintain balance, lessen fatigue while standing, hold some of their weight while maneuvering, or have something to grab onto in case of a slip or fall. A caregiver may use a grab bar to assist with transferring a patient from one place to another. A worker may use a grab bar to hold on to as he or she climbs, or in case of a fall.

The term "ADA Signs" has come into common use in the architectural, construction and signage industries with the advent of the Americans With Disabilities Act, or ADA. The Americans with Disabilities Act regulates accessibility; and includes requirements for signage that is conveniently located and easy to read both visually and through tactile touch.

Accessible toilet toilet for disabled people

An accessible toilet is designed to accommodate people with physical disabilities. Persons with reduced mobility find them useful, as do those with weak legs, as a higher toilet bowl makes it easier for them to stand up. Additional measures to add accessibility are providing more space and grab bars to ease transfer to and from the toilet seat, and including enough room for a caregiver if necessary. Some countries have requirements concerning the accessibility of public toilets. Toilets in private homes can be modified (retrofitted) to increase accessibility.

Accessible tourism Ongoing endeavour to ensure tourist destinations, products and services are accessible to all people

Accessible tourism is the ongoing endeavour to ensure tourist destinations, products and services are accessible to all people, regardless of their physical limitations, disabilities or age. It encompasses publicly and privately owned tourist locations. The term has been defined by Darcy and Dickson as:

Accessible tourism enables people with access requirements, including mobility, vision, hearing and cognitive dimensions of access, to function independently and with equity and dignity through the delivery of universally designed tourism products, services and environments. This definition is inclusive of all people including those travelling with children in prams, people with disabilities and seniors.

Wheelchair lift A powered device to raise a wheelchair and its occupant over a vertical barrier

A wheelchair lift, also known as a platform lift, or vertical platform lift is a fully powered device designed to raise a wheelchair and its occupant in order to overcome a step or similar vertical barrier.

Wheelchair Chair with wheels, used by people for whom walking is difficult

A wheelchair is a chair with wheels, used when walking is difficult or impossible due to illness, injury, old age related problems, or disability. These can include spinal cord injuries, broken leg(s), cerebral palsy, brain injury, osteogenesis imperfecta a.k.a. brittle bones, motor neurone disease (MND), multiple sclerosis (MS), muscular dystrophy (MD), spina bifida, and more. Wheelchairs come in a wide variety of formats to meet the specific needs of their users. They may include specialized seating adaptions, individualized controls, and may be specific to particular activities, as seen with sports wheelchairs and beach wheelchairs. The most widely recognized distinction is between powered wheelchairs, where propulsion is provided by batteries and electric motors, and manually propelled wheelchairs, where the propulsive force is provided either by the wheelchair user/occupant pushing the wheelchair by hand ("self-propelled"), by an attendant pushing from the rear using handle(s), or by an attendant pushing from the side use a handle attachment.

Persons with reduced mobility

The European Union Persons with Reduced Mobility (PRM) legislation is intended to ensure that Persons with Reduced Mobility traveling via public transport, whether by air, land or sea, should have equal access to travel as compared to travelers with unrestricted mobility. Travel providers are compelled to provide and install sufficient access facilities to enable Passenger with Reduced Mobility to enjoy similar access to other passengers.

Adapted automobile term

An adapted automobile is an automobile adapted for ease of use by disabled people. Automobiles, whether cars or vans, can be adapted for a range of physical disabilities.

BraunAbility is an American manufacturer of wheelchair accessible vans and wheelchair lifts based in Winamac, Indiana. It is currently owned by Investor AB. The company was founded by Ralph Braun, who had spinal muscular atrophy. Braun designed a wheelchair lift and steering controls, which allowed him to drive a 1970 converted full size Dodge van. He began converting vans to sell to others. As sales grew, Braun was able to acquire Independent Mobility Systems. IMS had previously been the largest manufacturer of wheelchair minivans. Braun also acquired the Viewpoint Mobility line of wheelchair minivans. Company sales have grown to $200 million per year.

Accessibility of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority

The physical accessibility of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)'s public transit network is incomplete. Although accessibility on all buses is provided in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), much of the MTA's rail system, including its rapid transit and commuter rail services, were built before wheelchair access was a requirement under the ADA. Consequently, most stations were not designed to be accessible to people with disabilities.


  1. Curry, Andrew (20 July 2020). "Ramps for disabled people trace back to ancient Greece". Science. doi:10.1126/science.abd9196 . Retrieved 29 July 2020.
  2. 1 2 "405 Ramps". 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. US Department of Justice. September 15, 2010.
  3. 1 2 "ADA Wheelchair Ramp Specs". Mobility Advisor.
  4. "Ramps vs. Lifts | Handi-Lift". www.handi-lift.com. Retrieved 2017-05-09.
  5. "Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) | United Nations Enable". www.un.org. Retrieved 2017-05-09.
  6. Basingstoke and Deane - Designing for Accessibility (PDF). Centre for Accessible Environments. March 2004. ISBN   1-85946-143-3 . Retrieved 2020-03-23.
  7. "Design Manual - Barrier Free Access 2008, Chapter 4, Division 5 - Ramps" (PDF). Buildings Department, Hong Kong. Retrieved 2012-06-17.
  8. "NCC 2019 Volume Two - Contains the requirements for residential and non-habitable buildings and structures". National Construction Code. November 2019. Retrieved 25 November 2019.