People who have physical difficulties with walking use wheelchairs.
A wheelchair helps people with physical disabilities become mobile, more independent, and active again.
Yet, some degree of dependency still exists, as a person with a disability needs a wheelchair and a wheelchair ramp to overcome obstacles such as stairs.
It is important to understand possible limitations and pick a wheelchair and a wheelchair ramp that will work best for the disability type you are dealing with.
Wheelchair ramps add on mobility and security of people with disabilities. (source)
It can make a significant difference in a disabled person’s life.
In this article we will walk you through guide on how to build a small ramp for wheechair but fist let see some facts :
Disabled people are faced with more everyday difficulties
It is true that a wheelchair might help you a lot if you want to go somewhere and be active.
However, only persons who use a wheelchair every day know that there are a lot more problems associated with moving.
We will enumerate some difficulties only disabled person will understand truly, but try to put yourself in their position too.
- Dirty hands
As you turn around the wheels on your wheelchair, you will get your hands dirty.
Logically, whenever you are out, the wheels will pick up the dust and dirt from the streets, which will make you have to wash your hands all the time.
A possible solution to this is getting yourself a power wheelchair, so you don’t have to turn the wheels.
- Ripped clothes
Another issue associated with turning the wheels is that your clothes get stuck in the wheels while they move.
You have to be very careful and wear tight clothes if you want to save them.
Oppositely, skirts, dresses, or long t-shirt will get ripped during the wheeling.
- Everyday injuries
Some people think that turning the wheels is not so difficult, as it looks pretty simple – except for the disabled persons.
As you are holding the metal in your hands all the time, there is a possibility that you will cut your finger or twist your hand.
- Missing reflection can’t see themselves in the mirror
Disabled persons who can’t stand up from the chair can’t see their reflection in the mirror.
This might seem unimportant but just imagine the situation.
Looking at yourself in the mirror is a usual, everyday activity.
Every person in this world cares, at least in some aspect, how he/she looks like.
Unfortunately, this simple activity seems like a privilege to the regular people in comparison to disabled persons.
- Extra junk in the car
As we mentioned above, a disabled person needs a large junk in their car so they can put their wheelchairs and wheelchair ramps to the back of the car.
Some of them use minivans, and this is a costlier solution for the extra space.
- Unpleasant questions
People usually have a lot of unpleasant questions about the everyday life of disabled persons, such as getting up, taking a bath, or having sex.
Even though many disabled persons don’t have a problem to talk about the way of dealing with the disability, other people should pay attention to the context of these questions.
Which kinds of wheelchair ramps exist?
- Permanent and semi-permanent,
- Portable wheelchair ramp,
- Track ramps.
Permanent ramps are practical but bear in mind that some slopes, landings, and railings might require a specific height.
The question is if your wheelchair would fit some kind of the permanent ramp.
Portable ramps are great, as you can carry it with you wherever you go.
However, be careful, as the portable ramps have to be installed properly in the desired place.
Unevenly placed portable ramps might result in slipping off the surface, which might cause an injury.
How to Build a Small Ramp for Wheelchair
If you are a disabled person who would want to learn how to build a small ramp for wheelchair, or you want to help someone from your family with the mobility, keep on reading the following paragraphs.
The good news is, the wheelchair ramps are much more common today than they were 20 years ago.
Persons with disabilities try their hardest to be as independent as possible. That is why they try to be on their own.
We want to stress out the Americans with Disabilities Act from 1990 (ADA), which mentioned wheelchair and handicap ramps in a way we know them today.
The act prohibits discrimination over people with disabilities while they are managing their everyday activities.
Thanks to it, public buildings built ramps that make them more accessible.
Properly constructed wheelchair ramps enable safe access to places which wouldn’t be accessible otherwise.
Here you have two options – to build or to buy a ramp.
We will explain to you how should you built it, as it is the harder part obviously.
A wheelchair ramp should fulfill the following requirements:
- It should be wide enough,
- Sturdy enough to bear the weight of a disabled person and a wheelchair,
- Make a slope that makes it easy to navigate a wheelchair.
Note that a recommendable slope ratio is 1:16 or 1:20.
ADA ensures the following stipulations of the wheelchair ramps:
- 36 inches is a minimum width of a wheelchair ramp,
- Install the edge protection to prevent slipping off it,
- Steeper ramps require handrails.
If you are wondering which material is the best for building a wheelchair ramp, we have a couple of suggestions. (source)
Wheelchair ramps are usually made of wood, as this is an inexpensive, yet efficient solution.
However, count on the fact that wheelchair ramps made of wood need some maintaining.
For example, you would need an additional non-slip protection.
Concrete is a more expensive material, but it is a great choice for people who are searching for a permanent solution.
Steel is also a good solution, but it is prone to corrosion.
Aluminum doesn’t corrode, is strong, and the most expensive solution, as it needs slipping protection too.
The material that you would pick for your ramp defines the procedure of building it.
We will show you how to build a wooden ramp, as it is the most common solution and universal example.
- Build the ramp in sections. Start with the landing section and then attach the other sections one by one. It would be great to use concrete anchor bolts for the first section.
- Further, provide support to it by installing support posts.
- Continue with the posts installing until you reach the last section.
- You should make sure that your last section finishes with a beveled transition.
- This transition is important when the wheelchair comes off the ramp and reaches the surface. It also neutralizes the possible bump while coming off the ramp.
Extra tips on how to build a small ramp for wheelchair :
- Use 2-by-6 lumber frameworks for electric wheelchairs, as they are pretty heavy,
- Screws are better than nails,
- Treat the wood with a varnish or sealer to prevent rot.
You should check if the ramp meets the ground.
Secure the level landing, or construct it to be a part of the ramp.
Bear in mind the stress on the motor of a power wheelchair, as it should be able to overcome possible steep surfaces.
What are the benefits of installing a wheelchair ramp?
- Minimize the risk of injuries
Disabled persons and elderly would feel more comfortable with going to a grocery store or any other place.
A wheelchair ramp would minimize the risk of injuries, as the ramp would help them move with more confidence.
It provides support and gives them confidence.
Luckily, portable wheelchair ramps make it possible to move easier not only in the comfort of your home and garden but everywhere you go actually.
Wheelchair ramps increase mobility.
- You can pick the material that suits your needs the most
As we mentioned above, people make wheelchair ramps out of many materials, such as wood, aluminum, concrete, etc.
You can even make a nice design that goes well with the design of your home and turn it into an interesting outdoor deck detail.
- They are easy to install
You’ve seen the steps to a wheelchair ramp in front of your house.
Things are pretty simple here.
You can also turn permanent into portable wheelchair ramps.
All you have to do is divide it into sections and carry them in your trunk wherever you go.
The main purpose of the wheelchair ramp is to improve the mobility of a disabled or elder person.
However, you can also save your time and effort by using a wheelchair ramp.
If you have some furnishing, groceries, equipment to transport, you can easily do the job with a help of the ramp.
- Resale value
If you would want to sell your house at some point in time, you can resale the value you invested in building the ramp.
Families with disabled or elder members would surely consider buying your house, as it is already adjusted to persons with special needs.
Is there something the society can do?
We would agree upon a question of the awareness about the disabled persons.
Society is trying to include them in everyday activities and treat them as equal.
However, this still hasn’t come to a phase where the efforts are enough.
People who use wheelchairs need a specific infrastructure, which will enable their wheels to turn.
Even though some wheelchair ramps are built in the cities, you can see many examples of wrongly built wheelchair ramps.
We should have more consideration and compassion, as mobility in a wheelchair is still a limited mobility.
Just imagine seeing a too stern wheelchair ramp.
This gives off an impression of the complete unawareness of the society.
It might seem as if we are making laugh of a disabled person, which will only make them feel less comfortable with going out.
It is important to enable accessibility to people who use wheelchairs.
They need some additional help in order to fulfill their needs when being out.
For example, entering a restroom somewhere outside the house might seem almost impossible if there is no wheelchair ramp installed.
Further, many people with disabilities use public transportation.
Local and state authorities should pay more attention to adapting buses, trains, or metros for people who are in wheelchairs.
However, we all should show the sensitivity for persons with disabilities.
Some cities in the world, such as Tokyo, constructed elevators for elders and people using a wheelchair so they can reach the subway.
Buses have equipped stairs or ramps so people with wheelchairs can enter the transportation easily.
Some people with disabilities use their own car, but things are not simple either way.
First of all, even the authorities marked the handicap parking lots, other people still park here.
What is more, they usually have an excuse that they were there only for a minute, or that there was not any other available place to park.
However, once a disability person manages to park, he/she still needs a handicap ramp.
This means that you would have to buy a car that has a large trunk and are compatible with wheelchair ramps.
A final word
Disabled persons with limited mobility need something that will guarantee their safety and stableness.
A wheelchair ramp can actually make their day.
These people should feel as appreciated and cared about both through the social awareness both through the adjustments of the infrastructure.
However, they should do something for themselves.
Building a wheelchair ramp is an easy task, which can improve the quality of your life and significantly increase mobility.
You won’t feel insecure about coming off the stairs, as you would use the ramp instead.
You will be able to go any place you want with the help of a portable wheelchair ramp.
Finding a parking lot won’t be a mission impossible anymore.
A wheelchair ramp enables your full participation in community life and activities.