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Providing safe access with ramps

People in New York who have mobility issues should not have to miss out on opportunities and experiences because of obstacles such as steps that prevent them from access. The U.S. Access Board notes that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires companies, organizations and municipalities to create ramps to allow those who cannot safely take a step up or down safe entry or approach. Without attention to certain details, though, the ramp could be just as hazardous as stairs or a curb might be.

Handrails are key features on ramps, but they must not be so close together that they keep a person using a wheelchair, motorized cart, walker or other form of assistance from maneuvering the slope. Rails should be included on both sides when the rise of the ramp is more than 6 inches, except on aisle ramps in some assembly areas, where they may be only on one side. If the handrail is connected to a wall, there must be at least 1.5 inches between the rail and the wall so that a person holding onto it does not scrape knuckles against the wall.

The specifics necessary for a ramp may depend on who uses it, according to AccessNorth.net. Many factors may apply, such as the following:

  •          Zoning requirements
  •          Natural barriers
  •          Approach, entryway and internal building characteristics
  •          Access to transportation
  •          Appearance
  •          Cost

Other factors are nonnegotiable, including the slope of the ramp, which typically also affects the length, since a longer ramp provides a gentler angle for easier use. Also defined is the point where it meets the ground, which cannot be at an angle or a person’s wheels may change surfaces at different rates and cause imbalance. In addition, this meeting point should be flat, with no lip, to prevent trips and falls. There should be a surface that prevents slipping, and an edge along the bottom of the ramp that keeps walkers or crutches from sliding off it, as well. 

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