By Marc Willis
Before you begin building a wheelchair ramp yourself or go out to buy one, you should be familiar with the building code for wheelchair ramps. Local and federal building codes will guide you to design and construct a safe and efficient ramp or help you to find a ramp that meets these requirements. Local codes will vary and you should seek them out while planning what type of ramp to use. But other guidelines are more concrete and will be easy to apply to your project whether you're in the southern, northern, or western region of the country.
What is the ADA?
The ADA, or Americans with Disabilities Act, is a set of guidelines that covers all aspects of public building construction so that there is plenty of accessibility for all. Those who are handicapped or in a wheelchair or use a scooter can maneuver into buildings via ramps, fit inside elevators, use public restrooms and much more. Enacted in 1992 by President Bush, these regulations have ensured that all public buildings constructed since then are accessible to anyone. Ignoring these guidelines can lead to law suits. The only exceptions are buildings built before the guidelines were created and some historic buildings if including a ramp isn't feasible or would damage the structure. The building code for wheelchair ramps can also apply to private homes. Don't ignore these guidelines simply because your ramp is for home use.
How Can I Get the ADA Guidelines?
Fortunately, the ADA guidelines flow freely on the Internet. However, they also have building code books that detail the building code for wheelchair ramps. Because this is an American standard, the same guidelines will not apply in other lands, for instance Canada. If you live outside the U.S., look for that country's standards when it comes to wheelchair ramps and/or accessibility. Basically, following this code makes sure that your ramp is functional for the person or persons in question and ensures that the ramp is safe to use.
What Do the ADA Guidelines Govern?
The ADA guidelines cover almost every important aspect of ramp building. You will need to rely on the building code for wheelchair ramps for the proper width of the ramp, the size and number of landings and transitions on the ramp. The slope and rise of the ramp, and the inclusion and position of handrails. Because they give you the most balanced ratio for slope to rise, it can cut down on the time spent trying to figure that out. The specifications in the wheelchair ramp building code are designed for general public buildings so the measurements set out cover all different scenarios and focus on typical situations.
Go online to find out the building code for wheelchair ramps according to the ADA. And don't forget to check with local building code standards as well before setting out to build or buy your wheelchair ramp. Use the guidelines to design and construct (or help you buy) a ramp that will meet the person's needs first and foremost. Focus on safety and function so that whoever most needs the ramp can benefit fully from it.
Read more about building code for wheelchair ramps.
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