Whether you’re a new or seasoned wheelchair user, the chances are that you encounter accessibility issues on a frequent basis. Whether it’s access to your home or garden, to shops or restaurants or when visiting friends and family, being unable to successfully negotiate your surroundings is frustrating and places unnecessary limitations on you.
A wheelchair ramp can make a significant difference to your ability to access your environment and give you an increased level of independence. So, what different types of wheelchair ramp are there and what are their advantages?
If access to your home or garden is an issue for you, the long term solution is likely to be a permanent wheelchair ramp. The main advantage of using permanent ramps is that it enables you to navigate your environment independently as and when you want.
It is, of course, essential to make sure that the ramp is not too steep to enable easy access. The minimum gradient for ramps less than 2 metres in length is 1:12, although there is nothing to stop you having a ramp with a gentler gradient if this would be more suitable.
Additionally, you may also be able to get financial assistance to install a permanent ramp in the form of a grant following assessment from an Occupational Therapist. If you do not already have an Occupational Therapist, contact your local council and request that they carry out a Needs Assessment.
Portable ramps can be really useful in helping to increase your ability to get out and about or navigate places that you are unfamiliar with such as when you are on holiday. There are a number of different types available, each with different uses.
Threshold ramps enable you to navigate thresholds such as those found in doorways. Suitcase ramps are larger and fold in half for easier carriage. They are often used where there are height differences to overcome, for example, when boarding trains. Channel ramps are designed for access into vehicles. They consist of two separate ramps, with one for each wheel. Roll up ramps come in a variety of lengths and can be simply rolled and stored when not in use.
The main advantages to portable ramps are that they are lightweight and compact, making them suitable for taking out and about. They are also easy to store. As a result they can be a great means of increasing accessibility to buildings for wheelchairs. This means that the range of facilities that can be used by wheelchair users is opened up as is the ability to travel more independently.
To get full advantage from using a wheelchair ramp it is important to pick a suitable type. Think about what you will be using it for and check that it can accommodate your wheelchair and that you will be able to navigate it, ensuring that you can get onto and off it.
Katrina Smith writes about independent living for a range of websites and blogs. She has recently been researching mobility issues and solutions such as the wheelchair ramps here.