We all know that the Americans with Disabilities Act has a long list of regulations to make sure that people with disabilities have the same access to goods and services as others, and sometimes it can be difficult to comply with all of them. When it comes to wheelchair ramps, it can be especially difficult because there are regulations for everything: handrail diameter, space between handrails, guardrails, ramp width and length, the walking surface, baluster spacing, the slope, weight specifications, and more.
Here is a short, 10-question quiz to help you start identifying the most important ADA regulations for wheelchair ramps.
1. What is the maximum allowed slope of a ramp?
a. 1:20 (for every inch of rise, you need 20 inches of ramp run)
b. 1:12 (for every inch of rise, you need 12 inches of ramp run)
c. 1:10 (for every inch of rise, you need 10 inches of ramp run)
d. 1:8 (for every inch of rise, you need 8 inches of ramp run)
Answer: b. The maximum slope of an ADA-compliant ramp is 1:12, which means that for every inch of elevation, you need 12 inches of ramp run. How do you know what the elevation is? The elevation is simply the height between the ground and the door or threshold. Note: if the ground is sloping, the ramp might require more or less ramp run to maintain a 1:12 slope.
2. How long should your ramp be for a 48-inch door height?
a. 48 feet
b. 58 feet
c. 80 feet
d. 96 feet
Answer: a. The maximum slope is 1:12. Therefore, if the door height is 48 inches, the ramp should be 48 feet (48" x 12" = 576"-----576" = 48').
3. After every additional ____ feet of ramp run, you need a resting platform.
Answer: b. After every 30 feet of continuous ramp run, a resting platform is required. Why? Because it would be very difficult to go up a 100-foot ramp in a wheelchair without taking a break.
4. What size platform do you need at both the top and bottom of a ramp?
a. 3′ x 3′
b. 3′ x 5′
c. 4′ x 6′
d. 5′ x 5′
Answer: d. A 5' x 5' is required so that a person in a wheelchair has room to make a 180-degree turn.
5. How many platforms do you need for the 48-foot ramp, assuming there are no existing platforms?
Answer: c. You would need one resting platform in the middle of the ramp to break up the 48 feet along with a 5' x 5' platform at both the top and bottom.
6. True or False: handrails are required on all ramps, no matter the length, to comply with ADA regulations.
Answer: b. Any ramp under 6 feet does not require handrails.
7. What is the widest gap allowed between balusters?
a. 2 inches
b. 4 inches
c. 6 inches
d. 10 inches
Answer: b. Balusters must be placed no more than 4 inches apart in order to keep people from falling off the ramp, especially small children.
8. For freestanding ramps, how far should the handrails extend past the length of the ramp?
a. handrails do not need to extend past
b. 4 inches
c. 8 inches
d. 12 inches
Answer: d. The rules may vary for ramps that are not freestanding.
9. True or False: handrails must be circular.
Answer: b. Handrails can be circular or rectangular as long as the perimeter is between 4 inches and 6.25 inches.
10. What is the minimum clearance between handrails?
a. 36 inches
b. 40 inches
c. 45 inches
d. 50 inches
Answer: a. The ramp must be at least 36 inches wide between handrails so that a wheelchair can fit. The actual ramp width will be wider than the space between handrails in order to fit the balusters and guardrail.
Answers: 1:b, 2:a, 3:b, 4:d, 5:c, 6:b, 7:b, 8:d, 9:b, 10:a