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How to Choose a Wheelchair Ramp

Choosing a wheelchair ramp for your home is not an easy task.  There are many variables to address when determining how to make the home you love accessible and safe when mobility becomes compromised. So how do you decide what you need? Here is a set of questions that will help you make the best choice:

  • Is the person using a wheelchair, walker, cane or just struggling with steps?
  • If the person is in a wheelchair, is it manual or power?
  • Is the person always assisted by a caregiver?
  • How many steps are at your main entrance?
  • Are there thresholds that are tripping hazards?
  • Is it difficult to access the deck, porch or patio?
  • Is the situation permanent or temporary?

There are 4 main types of ramps:  Threshold, Portable, Permanent (concrete or wood), and Modular (can be permanent or temporary). 

Threshold Ramps - for heights of ¾” up to 6”, are aluminum or rubber, and are great for doorway entrances. 

Portable Ramps - great for 1-2 steps, and come in lengths from 2’ to 10’.  They do not have railings; however they can be moved easily when not in use.

Concrete and Wood Ramps - permanent ramps that require proper design work, a contractor, and may require permits to install.  Delivery & installation usually takes the most time.

Modular Ramps - made from steel or aluminum and can be designed for most home situations.  They come in various sizes and widths, with railings and platforms as needed.  They are RENTABLE and can be installed on a temporary basis (or as long as needed). 

A safe ramp requires 1 linear foot of ramp for every inch of rise (or elevation change).  For example, if there are 3 steps and each is 7” high, the ramp must be at least 21’ long.  An accessibility professional can help you make the right choice and ensure that the ramp design is both safe and installed properly.  They are also familiar with the different types of products available and can help to assess your home and provide solutions to improve accessibility throughout your entire home (stairs, bathrooms, etc.). When contacting an accessibility professional, make sure to ask if the assessment is free – it should be!

Amramp has accessibility professionals available in many markets across the country.  1-800-649-5215. Amramp Eastern Tennessee: 1-865-438-8032.


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