Overcoming Mobility Challenges: How to Choose the Right Ramp

One of the biggest challenges for disabled people is mobility and access to places, whether it’s their homes or public buildings. Certain modifications to the homes are possible in some cases, and many buildings are required by law to provide access ramps and elevators, but there are still plenty of situations when access is limited.

One way to overcome obstacles such as stairs and thresholds is to find a suitable ramp that will help a person in a wheelchair get out of a vehicle and enter a place that lacks a special access entrance. Portable handicap ramp that can be folded and transported in a car allow people to make the transition easier in different circumstances.

Before you select a disabled access ramp you should consider its weight and materials, the weight capacity, and width. To give you some more information and help you make a good decision, we will discuss the different types so you can find the most suitable ramp for disabled person and make their life a bit easier.

What are the Different Types of Ramps?

Man standing by black wan with ramp for disabled people and woman in wheelchair by the ramp
Source: gmmobility.co.uk

Threshold Ramps

One of the basic types of ramps, designed to enable moving over doorway thresholds, a single step, or slightly elevated landings is the threshold ramp. They are small and lightweight, usually made from aluminium so they can be easily installed around the home to allow smooth daily movement. If needed, they can be moved and transported since they are not fixed permanently.

Portable Folding Ramps

As the name suggests, this type of ramp is a good solution if you need to use a wheelchair in different locations or as a temporary aid. They can be folded and transported to your destination and quickly set up when needed or disassembled and stored. They might come with an anti-skit grid to prevent sliding and safer movement.

Suitcase ramps

Like the other portable ramps, they also are folded down in a carrying case for simple transport. They are made of aluminium and are therefore lightweight but sturdy enough to provide access over stairs and curbs, or used for vehicle access. Although they are an excellent option when larger ramps are not practical or possible, they are not a permanent solution.

Telescoping ramps

This is another aluminium ramp type that can be easily moved on the wheels attached to the side. It usually has handrails and a lip at the bottom to keep the wheelchair in place. Since it’s portable and simple to set up or take apart, it’s suitable for homes or buildings that don’t have a lot of room for traditional ramps.

Modular ramps

These are semi-permanent installations that can be made from aluminium or steel. They are an alternative to wooden fixed ramps and can have different access angles or levels according to the needs. With handrails on one or each side, they are suitable for commercial or residential properties and can be repositioned to a different location if required.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Disability Ramp

Man pushing other man in wheelchair on ramp
Source: slingsby.com

Depending on your needs and the circumstances in which you want to use the wheelchair or mobility scooter ramp, you will need to consider a few points.

  • Size and slope: Australian standards require a minimum width of 1000mm for a straight ramp and 1500mm for a completely curved ramp. For enhanced access and accommodating more needs, a width of 1200mm is recommended. The maximum gradient depends on the length of the ramp meaning that the longer the ramp is, the more gradual the slope needs to be to allow momentum. That is generally a 1:14 gradient, 1:10 for short ramps, and 1:8 for threshold ramps if they are 35mm high or less.
  • Length: The length of the ramp depends on the type of obstacles that need to be overcome. For small inclines, curbs, and one-stair entrances you can set up shorter ramps. However, for manoeuvring low stairs and steeper inclines or uneven terrain you will need longer ramps.
  • Weight capacity: Different types of wheelchair ramps can support different weights, so make sure to check the specifications. You can find standard ramps with a maximum capacity of 272kg, but this can vary from type to type. There are also bariatric ramps that are built to support more weight. It’s important to consider the weight of the mobility device as well because power wheelchairs and mobility scooters usually require bariatric ramps. If there is additional medical or assistive equipment then that should be factored in as well. The ramp needs to endure the weight of the person using the wheelchair, the wheelchair itself, and often another person who is pushing them. A ramp with a capacity that exceeds the total weight is recommended.
  • Ramp material and weight: Most ramps are made of aluminum or steel as they are lighter, durable, and solid materials. They can resist weather conditions and corrosion. If you need to lift and transport the ramp then the lightweight aluminum is the best choice. Steel is heavier but also common because it doesn’t get easily damaged by weight and frequent use, so it is a good option for ramps that won’t be moved a lot.

To Sum Up

The ramp for disabled person can have other features as well, like raised edges for safety, slip-resistant surfaces, side walls, and rails. All of them are important to prevent accidents during use and enable safer transition. When you use portable ramps on new terrains or for getting into a vehicle, make sure you calculate the necessary length for a safe and practical entry.

You can multiply the rise in inches (from the ground to the height of the vehicle) by 12. This will give you the required length of the ramp. For inclines that are greater than the 1:12 ratio, portable ramps can be dangerous to use when the wheelchair is occupied. The ramps are extremely useful and safe when you follow the guidelines from their manufacturers.