What is the standard width of a wheelchair ramp?
Last week, my friend asked me about ADA ramp guidelines for a ramp project his aunt wanted to do.
We found that the ADA recommends that the “minimum clear width of a ramp shall be 36 in.” (1)
But when building a ramp, it’s not just the width you need to consider; there’s a lot more that I put together for you in this guide.
- The standard wheelchair ramp width is 36 inches.
- The standard wheelchair landing size is 60 by 60 inches.
- Always measure your doorway if looking to buy a pre-made ramp.
- Follow ADA wheelchair ramp measurements for uniformity and safety.
The Standard Wheelchair Ramp Width
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the standard ramp width is 36 inches wide. (1) There may be exceptional cases where the ramp width may be larger than this, especially in public buildings.
While handrails and flares can be present along the ramp run, these features should not affect the width at any point. Moreover, different states have unique building codes, so it is best to check in with relevant authorities or hire an expert.
More ADA Wheelchair Ramp Measurements
Other ADA-compliant ramp guidelines involving measurements include:
1. Landing Area
Wheelchair landing provisions help wheelchair users change their movement direction and prevent fatigue. The standard width for a level landing should conform to that of the wheelchair ramp run leading to it.
The standard landing size area is five square feet (60 by 60 inches), allowing an easy circulation path for wheelchair maneuvering. Moreover, suitable landing surfaces must be at both ends to provide maneuvering clearance.
2. Ramp Slope
The ideal slope for wheelchair ramp measures 1:12. You will need twelve inches of ramp length for every inch of vertical rise. This running slope ratio ensures that the ramp is not steep, causing inconveniences at the accessible entrances. (2)
However, where space constraints are present, you can have a maximum slope greater than 1:12. Also, note that U-shaped ramps missing a level surface at the intermediate landing do not meet the ADA standards since they create compound slopes.
In cross slopes, the ramp should not exceed a 1:48 inclination and should include a non-slip surface. Cross slopes are inclined areas designed to drain water, helping avoid stagnant puddles along the ramp ground surface. (2)
The ADA requires the presence of handrails on every ramp segment for heights exceeding six inches. Moreover, the railing must be continuous along the ramp run and free of abrasive elements.
You should also maintain a vertical clearance of 34-38 inches from ground level. The feature must not exceed a width of 6 ¼ inches to give users a tight grip. (2)
A clearance of 1 ½ inches is also crucial between the handrail and the adjacent surface, like a wall. The railings should extend outwards at the landing for at least 12 inches or continue to the next ramp surface.
3 Types of Ramps and Width Measurements
There are three main types of ramps, each with its own specifications, which I’ll talk about next.
1. Portable Ramps
This particular type of ramp is designed with portability in mind, allowing you to take the accessory anywhere. You can use a portable ramp if your porch area or doorway is not high from the floor or ground surfaces.
Since you can DIY one or buy pre-made lightweight wheelchair ramps, you can choose a width that is most suited to your power or manual wheelchair.
However, as a rule of thumb, ensure that the slope is not too steep to avoid any issues. Check out this YouTube from CareCo on how to use a portable ramp.
2. Permanent Ramps
You will find this type of ramp at the entrances of accessible buildings and residential dwelling units. Since permanent ramps stay in a single location, they usually have to follow ADA regulations.
Accessible facilities may have wider ramps of up to 48 inches providing passage for most wheelchair users. Moreover, if the facility entrance expects heavy traffic, it might have a gently sloping wider ramp up to 72 inches to ensure ample space for two-way traffic. (3)
3. Threshold Ramps
These ramps usually help wheelchair users overcome small thresholds in facility entrances and residential dwelling units. They come in varying widths, and it is up to you to measure the entryway if buying one or a DIY door ramp for residential use.
Threshold ramps can be portable or permanent, depending on need. For threshold ramps used in vehicles, ensure the edges are brightly colored to help people with vision impairments navigate smoothly.
Why ADA Ramp Compliance Matters
Signed into law in July 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ensures non-discrimination for people with mobility disabilities. (4)
The ADA rolled out ramp compliance regulations to ensure people with disabilities have access like non-disabled individuals. With the ADA ramp regulations, wheelchair space maneuverability has become more accessible. (5)
The enforcement of these regulations has greatly improved access to jobs and independent daily life for wheelchair users.
Check out this YouTube video from GreatPlainsADACenter on determining your ramp’s ADA compliance.
READ MORE: Know The History of Wheelchair Ramps
How wide does a standard wheelchair ramp need to be?
According to ADA compliance regulations, the standard width for a wheelchair ramp is 36 inches. However, in exceptional cases, the width can extend up to 72 inches.
What length of ramp do you need for a porch that is 24-inch high from the ground?
The ADA regulations demand a ramp slope of 1:12. So for a 24-inch vertical clearance, you will need a 24-foot ramp.
Knowing the proper width of a wheelchair ramp is beneficial to making your residential dwelling unit accessible. Moreover, you want the ramp to follow the ADA regulations to ensure it is safe for its primary users.
So there you have it, the answer to what is the standard width of a wheelchair ramp? If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments.
- 1. You are being redirected… [Internet]. www.ada-compliance.com. Available from: https://www.ada-compliance.com/ada-compliance/ada-ramp
- 2. U.S. Access Board – Chapter 4: Ramps and Curb Ramps [Internet]. www.access-board.gov. [cited 2022 Oct 19]. Available from: https://www.access-board.gov/ada/guides/chapter-4-ramps-and-curb-ramps/#clear-width
- 3. Choi YO, Lee HY, Lee MH, Kwon OH. Effects of ramp slope on physiological characteristic and performance time of healthy adults propelling and pushing wheelchairs. Journal of Physical Therapy Science. 2015;27:7–9.
- 4. Americans with Disabilities Act. Introduction to the ADA [Internet]. Ada.gov. 2019. Available from: https://www.ada.gov/ada_intro.htm
- 5. CDC. Disability Impacts All of Us Infographic | CDC [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2019. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/infographic-disability-impacts-all.html#:~:text=26%20percent%20(one%20in%204