Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Eliminating Obstacles


Stairs are a big obstacle for wheelchairs.   If someone must access stairs to get to the main entry door of your facility then you are discriminating against the disabled because they can not enter and utilize the services of your facility as others can.

There are many ways to address this issue and make stairs accessible, but in general, they usually all involve a ramp.   The photograph shown above is one way to address the issue.   As you can see, a ramp has been added to the stairs that still allows the stairs to be utilized while providing a ramp for the disabled.   As a side note, some believe that a portable ramp will work instead of a permanent ramp; however, this is not necessarily true.   Those with disabilities should not be required to wait until an employee can find and install the temporary ramp especially since the ADA has been in effect for over 20 years now.

While ramps offer access to the disabled, it’s important to understand there are many requirements to be satisfied when constructing a ramp.   There are certain dimensions for the height and thickness of the handrail, and there needs to be a based at the bottom of the handrail so a wheelchair will not accidently run off the ramp.   There are also strict guidelines with regards to the slope of the ramp.

One of the issues about ramps that seems to confuse everyone is why the handrail is extended beyond the top and bottom of a ramp.   The answer to this is really very simple.   Many of those with disabilities are able to walk, but they are not very steady of their feet and any change in elevation such as going up a ramp causes them to be even less stable.  The purpose of the extensions at the top and the bottom is to allow someone that is not very stable on their feet to stop on the level surface at the top or bottom and hold on to the rail to stabilize themselves before they continue on their way.

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