Look, ramps are easy, right? But 90% of the time a ramp is not the right choice. Besides the fact that a ramp takes up a huge amount of space (about 3 square feet for every inch of rise), a ramp means someone in a wheelchair has to actually travel farther than someone who can walk. Because code requires 12 inches of run for every one inch of rise, a simple three-step entrance becomes over 20 feet of ramp someone has to travel. If it's five steps, then that distance becomes over 35 feet, plus a landing.
Landings. Now there's an interesting point. Why do we have to put landings in staircases? So people have a place to rest. Why do we have to put landings in ramps? The same reason. Consider that the next time you're designing a ramp. If you have to ramp up 4-5 steps, that ramp is the equivalent of a flight of stairs to an ambulatory person.
But it's a short rise. All the more reason to use a lift. A short rise for you and me may be a non-issue. But just one or two steps becomes a barrier for someone in a wheelchair. Now why send them off to traverse 10 or 20 feet of ramp, when they could use an inclined lift and travel right next to their loved one?
But a lift will never get used. You know, we hear this one a lot. But we never, ever hear it from someone who has a friend or relative who's disabled. Keep in mind that over 20 million people in the USA fall under the ADA. We installed a wheelchair lift in a high school that has received over 80 hours of use during the past 3 years. It's getting operated 4-8 times per day.
Why a lift is better than a ramp for the disabled:
- A lift lets the disabled population travel the same path that everyone else travels.
- Inclined lifts let the disable person hold the hand of their loved one while going up the stairs.
- A well-designed lift lets the disable person travel up stairs without assistance.
- A lift does not require the same exertion as climbing a flight (or more) of stairs.
- A lift is a faster, safer path for ambulatory disabled people such as the elderly.
Why a lift is better than a ramp for you: