Making The Best Choice of Ramp For Wheelchairs or Mobility Scooters

Posted by Essentialaids on February 25th, 2019

Choosing the correct ramp for a flight of stairs is important for a number of key reasons. Safety, ease-of-use and size, all play a part. Using the wrong ramp can put users’ health at risk, so it is vital to consider the guidelines before making a purchase. The correct ramp is one of the most crucial wheelchair accessories you will need.

Slope Gradient

The gradient of the ramp is critical to its safety. Opting for a short ramp to overcome one or two shallow steps might seem like a good choice, but it may not be safe. A two or three foot ramp is only suitable if the height of the ramp is quite low.

For typical wheelchair ramps for steps, a recommended minimum gradient would be 1:6. A rise of just one foot requires a ramp of six-feet in length. Mobility scooters require a gradient of 1:8. For instance, one-foot rise would need an eight-foot ramp. The extra length of is necessary because mobility scooter ramps have a low ground clearance.

Ramp Surface and Safety

Many ramps are purely for use by those on foot. For these ramps, give thought to the steepness of the slope and tread surface. Most ramps made for this purpose will have an indented walking surface. This provides the user with secure grip underfoot, making it less likely that they will slip.
Wet conditions increase the danger of sloped surfaces. Even with a textured walking surface, metal ramps may still feel slippery.

Rain may cause extra problems for metal models. Choosing a ramp with a non-slip rubber surface may solve this. The user is less likely to slip when using these models, even in the rain.
Many people install a handrail alongside a ramp. These wheelchair accessories provide an extra degree of safety for someone either using a wheelchair or pushing one.

Fitted at the same height as a bannister, a handrail should extend for the length of the ramp.

Strength and Weight

Strength is also a key factor in choose the correct ramp. A mobility scooter, for example, can weigh more than half a ton. Check the load bearing strength of the ramp before making a purchase.

As with many wheelchair accessories, another important factor when choosing wheelchair ramps for steps relates to their ease-of-use. Is it to be a permanent fixture, or portable? Many wheelchair users transport a portable ramp with them in the boot of a car. These models must be lightweight and easy to carry. A folding ramp is usually ideal for transporting in small spaces, such as a car boot.

Traditional solid ramps with no facility to fold are not usually suitable for this purpose. These ramps can be ideal when permanently fixed in place. If fitted correctly, they will feel more stable and solid underfoot. Steel is very strong and traditionally used to build fixed ramps.
Because it is prone to rust, it is no longer such a common choice for portable models. A better option is aluminum because of its strength and low weight. It is also non-corrosive, which means it is better suited to wet conditions.

Portable Ramps

Aluminum wheelchair and mobility scooter ramps are the most popular on the market. The folding models are usually bi-folding or in some cases multi-folding.

A bi-folding ramp is most common and has two halves which lock firmly together when in position. These lightweight and strong ramps are popular for both wheelchairs and mobility scooters. Folding away to half their fixed length, this design is easy to install in a short space of time.

A multi-fold ramp is less common but can fold down to half its width and half its length. This makes it compact and perfect for storing in small spaces.

Channel ramps provide another design option. These are suitable for mobility scooters as they reduce the danger of the wheels slipping off the sides. The deep grooves in the channels mean lateral movement is difficult, keeping the scooter’s wheels locked on-track.

Heavy wheelchairs and power chairs often need channel ramps to ensure safety. Transferring a heavy chair on to or off of a vehicle can be dangerous. Using channel ramps can cut the risk. Safety in this respect is more critical when the wheelchair user is sitting in the chair when the ramps are in use.