How To Measure for a Wheelchair Ramp

Why do I need to prep my site for a ramp?

ADA ramps can be difficult to design and install because there are so many guidelines to follow. People often don’t know where to begin when preparing a site for a wheelchair ramp, but the info-graphic breaks the process down into actionable steps to make sure your site is ready for a ramp. 

Why does my ramp have to be a specific length?

The ramp must comply with ADA regulations if it is going to be used by the public. ADA regulations require a 1:12 slope which guarantees that the ramp will not be too steep for someone in a wheelchair to use. It also requires a landing area at both the top and bottom of the ramp which must be at least 60” x 60”. If there is no existing landing platform at the threshold, then you will need a platform that connects the door threshold to the top of the ramp. 

How wide does my ramp need to be?

Most standard ADA products have 48″ clearance between the handrails.  This specification covers ADA and IBC 2009 compliance across the United States.  The outer edge to outer edge of the ramp is close to 60″, but there ends up being only 48″ between the handrails after taking the handrail material, the standoff between the handrail and the guardrail, and the guardrail thickness into consideration.

Why do the width and length of the building matter?

If you need to have a switchback ramp, but there is no room for it to switch back in front of the building, you may have to wrap it around the side of the building. Knowing the length and width will help you determine the best layout for the ramp. 

Why is the door swing important?

If the door’s hinge is on the right, then the ramp has to move to the left (from birds-eye  or front view) so that the door does not block the ramp when it is opened. The same concept applies to a door with a hinge on the left.

If you need the ramp to go in the opposite direction than the door allows, additional platforms are needed.

Double doors and recessed doors also require additional platforms to have an adequate turning radius for a wheelchair.

Why is the slope of the ground important?

If the ground is sloping down, additional ramp sections might be required in order to maintain a 1:12 ratio. If the ground is sloping up, fewer ramp sections may be required. 

Why do I need multiple platforms?

To be compliant with ADA regulations, you need a 60″ x 60″ resting platform for every additional 30 feet of ramp. This means that if your door is more than 30″ above the ground, you will need at least a 30-foot ramp and a resting platform that will add an additional 60 inches to the ramp length. 

What can the threshold platform connect to?

Ramp and platform systems can typically connect to:

  • Modular buildings
  • Existing concrete steps or platforms
  • Existing steel platforms
  • Wood decks

How big do the footers need to be?

Footers for ramp and platform legs need to be 12″ in diameter. Footer depth is dependent on frost line measurement for each state or geographic area.

Is one configuration better than the others?

No. Choose the configuration that best suits your site given any barriers that might be there and the allotted space you have. If you have limited space on the sides of the building, a switchback ramp would probably be best, but if there is a tree that would prevent the ramp from switching back, an “L” ramp or straight ramp would be better.

What if there are obstacles in the way, but I can’t avoid them?

Sometimes it is easier to relocate or remove an obstacle instead of trying to configure a wheelchair ramp around it. If relocating or removing it is not possible, then you may need to use a larger platform to push the ramp past the obstacle, adjust the layout, or use a custom access system to avoid it. 

After preparing the site, contact a ramp manufacturer for a quote. 

Upside Innovations manufactures modular-style aluminum ramps and installs nationwide. Aluminum is the most durable commercial-style ramp that requires minimal maintenance and can typically be assembled in a matter of hours. 

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