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Do you need special ramps for different wheelchairs?

PMC  June 11, 2019    pmc  Jeff Conner

outdoor ramp

A common question that mobility vendors hear is: Do you need special ramps for different types of wheelchairs? The answer is yes- and no. There are distinctive regulations guiding accessibility and ramps in common or public areas, which makes them standard of sorts, but there are vast differences among wheelchairs that do make some ramps more utilitarian or convenient than others. Talk to a mobility professional to learn more.

Among the many possible and potential mobility aids and devices, wheelchairs may be among the most common and most life-changing for the user. A wide range of individuals can use wheelchairs, from those with permanent paralysis to those temporarily recovering from an injury or procedure. Essentially, wheelchairs are designed to help support the weight of the user in the event they have poor balance or an inability to put weight on their legs. Wheelchairs are commonly prescribed for patients with both short- and long-term medical issues.

Things to Know About Wheelchairs

  • Did you know that wheelchairs were invented around 1783? The earliest wheelchairs were usually made from wood with a bit of metal- and uncomfortable!
  • If you need the narrowest of wheelchairs for your home or work, look for a transport wheelchair. These differ from regular wheelchairs as they have much-smaller, more-narrow wheels.
  • Wheelchairs that are intended to leave the home, need to be lighter. Usually, this is achieved by decreasing the size of the battery, which can shorten battery life or reduce the power of the chair.
  • The first electric wheelchairs were seen in the 1950s.
  • Manual wheelchairs are considerably lighter than electric ones.
  • There are also extra-wide wheelchairs available from mobility dealers and vendors. Typically, the sizes are standard, lightweight, and extra wide. Additionally, you may find child-size or pediatric chairs, too. Transport chairs fall into their own category.
  • Some electric wheelchairs are quite fast, clocking speeds of over ten miles per hour!

If you are in the market for a wheelchair, consult with a qualified mobility aid dealer or vendor to find the right chair for your needs. Avoid buying used chairs that could be dated or dangerous, and that will not be covered by warranty or service agreement.

Things to Know About Ramps

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA asserts very specific guidelines for implementing ramps in public or common spaces. If others are using your ramp, make sure that it adheres to the law; a mobility aid dealer can help.
  • Portable ramps are cheapest, often found under one hundred dollars.
  • One ramp definitely does not fit all! The best ramp, rise, and slope depend on the size of the chair, size of user, and structure of your steps or incline. There are so many factors that play a role in determining the best fit; don’t go it alone! Talk to a qualified and professional mobility expert in your area to learn more about ramps available to you.
  • Any sloping structures that have a rise greater than 1:20 are considered ramps, per ADA specifications.
  • According to the law, ramps need level landings at the top and bottom.
  • It is recommended that handrails are no taller than 28” from the surface of your ramp for assistance with wheelchairs.
  • For every foot of your ramp, the slope of the ramp should be no steeper than one-inch, according to the ADA.

Wheelchairs and Ramps are both found in a wide range of widths. In fact, there are some built to fit in airplane or bus aisles! Make it a point to measure the width of the doors in your home- or workplace- before shopping for your chair, which will then determine the width of your ramps. Your mobility aid vendor will be happy to provide further information upon request, as well as advise you of your best options.

Want to know more about wheelchairs and ramps? Come see us today

To answer the question regarding ramps for different or distinct wheelchairs, the answer is not that simple. While there are different ramps made to be compatible with your chair, there are also universal standards for ramps put forth by the ADA, which makes them the legal guideline to follow.

Visit the mobility professionals at Pacific Mobility; learn more about wheelchairs and ramps for your home environment by visiting a mobility retailer in the area. Your first priority should always be safety, so make sure to follow the manufacturer recommendations pertaining to usage to keep the users safe and secure in the wheelchair and on your ramps. When shopping for mobility aids, always ask about service, support, and installation to make sure that your devices are properly and securely implemented, and that you fully understand how to use and operate the equipment when you get it home.