Ramps which are designed with an improper wheelchair ramp slope can turn a personal safety device into a dangerous piece of equipment. One of the most common safety issues you may run into with permanent ramps are inclines which are uneven and/or too steep.
Portable ramps are also susceptible to problems associated with wheelchair ramp slope. Sometimes the ramps are designed too short, which results in an overly steep slope. Other times the slope can be uneven, which can make the ramp unstable and dangerous.
A safe ramp is one that is stable, built firm, has slip-resistant grips, and clearly marked warning indicators. In this post we will go over more about wheelchair ramp slope and the considerations associated with various types of ramps.
Types of Ramps and Wheelchair Ramp Slope
In general, a ramp is safer and easier to use when it has a lower slope. The accepted best practice is that 1″ of rise requires 12″ of ramp. If you’re picturing that in your head right now it probably sounds like an exceedingly low slope. However, in practice you’ll find that even a 1″ slope on a 12″ ramp can be challenging for most wheelchair users. Here are some other general considerations for each type of ramp.
Modular & Permanent Ramps
The design of permanent ramps are subject to local building regulations, which vary depending on whether the building is residential or commercial. The minimum requirements, according to building codes in the United States, are that every inch of rise requires 1 foot of ramp.
Since portable ramps are designed to be used when needed, and removed when not, there are no rules and regulations which dictate the length or slope of a portable ramp. Although it goes without saying that any ramp which is too steep is going to be challenging and unsafe to use. According to ramp manufacturers, the recommended best practice is for portable ramps to be built with 2 inches of rise for every 1 foot of ramp, making it twice as steep as a permanent ramp.
Other Considerations for Wheelchair Ramps
Slope is just one of several considerations to take into account if you’re either building or shopping for a wheelchair ramp. Here is an overview of other considerations for wheelchair ramps.
- Ramp Length: While ramps can be built to any length a user desires, regulations dictate that no single section should be longer than 30 feet in length.
- Ramp Width: A ramp can be built as wide as required. The recommended width for accommodating most wheelchairs and walkers is 36″.
- Ramp Landings: The landings of permanent ramps must be level at both top and bottom. This could mean integrating the landing into the design of the ramp, or installing the landings on a porch or patio.
- Ramp Railings: Regulations dictate that a ramp must have railings or barriers if a ramp run has a rise greater than 6″, or a horizontal protection greater than 72″.
Slope is one of the most important considerations for wheelchair ramps. If you want to ensure your wheelchair ramp is built and installed to meet every safety requirement, look into our ramp installation services.