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Wheelchair Ramp Types
Threshold Wheelchair Ramps:
Pretty much every exterior doorway in a residential setting will have a threshold of some sort which a wheelchair user will have to overcome to propel their wheelchair into or out of a building. To make entering and exiting of the wheelchair user over thresholds safer and easier threshold ramps are available in a variety of sizes. Although usually used on the outside of the doorway, I have seen cases where the interior of the doorway also requires a small threshold ramp
The maximum threshold height for an exterior sliding door should be no more than an inch and three quarters and half an inch for other types of doors without modification. Beveled edges with a slope no greater than 1:2 are required for thresholds above these specifications, for raised thresholds, and for changes in floor levels in public areas.
Portable Wheelchair Ramps:
Portable wheelchair access ramps are the most versatile of all wheelchair ramps, come in several designs and many sizes. Portable ramps offer many advantages over permanent ramps, not the least of which is lower cost. Portable wheelchair ramps are great for people who are out in the community on a regular basis as they can be used as needed with little exertion by a care giver or attendant. The portable ramp can be used to access a van then loaded in the van, transported with the user to a new location and used to exit the van. At the destination the same ramp may be suitable to access a building or elevated area which otherwise may be inaccessible. That said, a person who is confined to a wheelchair will find it difficult, if not impossible to carry and set up a portable ramp.
Portable Platform Wheelchair Ramps
Portable platform wheelchair access ramps are generally 32" to 36" wide and come in a variety of lengths from 2' up to 10'. Generally speaking, I have some difficulty in calling a 3' by 10' portable, but because they aren't attached to any permanent surface, technically they're portable.
In order to make them fit in a vehicle for transportation lengths over 3' often will fold, roll up or otherwise unassembled for transportation and will be known as bi-fold, tri-fold or roll-up ramps. Some call the bi-fold and trifold ramps suitcase ramps as they usually have a handle for carrying the ramp in the folded position like a suitcase. They can be manufactured in aluminum or fiberglass and weight is always an issue.
Channel Portable Wheelchair Ramps:
Channel wheelchair access ramps are are also available in various lengths up to 10' long and will either fold in half lengthwise or telescope in and out for transporting. The channels are usually 6" or 8" wide with a bumper along the edges to prevent the wheelchair from rolling off the side. Both types are fairly compact and can usually be transported and stored under the seats of a van or in the trunk of a car. One benefit of the telescoping style of channel wheelchair ramp is that some models can be used only partially extended where space is limited.
Vehicle Wheelchair Access Ramps:
There are several designs and types of vehicle wheelchair ramps to allow wheelchair users access to busses and vans in a variety of materials and forms. In addition to portable ramps which are often used for access to vans there are some van ramps which attach permanently to the interior of the vehicle and fold out for use either by mechanical, electrical, or manual operation.
Emergency exit route access for commercial and scholastic busses can also be achieved with a ramp. There is a ramp available, designed and manufactured by ProMotion Inc., which is designed specifically for evacuating individuals from a bus when the power lift is inoperable. This ramp has a folding design which quickly extends into a ramp or stairs for safe exits and folds like an accordion for storage.
Modular Wheelchair Ramp Systems:
Modular wheelchair access ramps are available for permanent or long term use to access buildings. While expensive these ramp systems have benefits for many people that a conventional wooden ramp doesn't. The first benefit is that if the user moves they can disassemble and take a modular ramp system with them. The second is that if the day comes that the ramp is no longer needed, the modular system can be sold, given away or donated. Wooden ramps which are built on site are basically scrap lumber once it's need is no longer there. Modular wheelchair ramp systems may include platforms, landings, leveling systems, self contained supports, wheels, flanges, and handrails. The modules may be connected by bolts or clamps, or fitted together. Many manufacturers of modular ramps offer custom dimensions and will ship all of the parts with installation instructions.