What is a Wheelchair Ramp?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 03 December 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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A wheelchair ramp is an object typically used to allow someone who is in a wheelchair to access places he or she may not otherwise be able to reach. This can include permanent types of ramps, such as those installed at public buildings to bypass stairs. There are also temporary or portable ramps that can be used in temporary situations, such as to make large vehicles wheelchair accessible. A wheelchair ramp can be an optional and temporary feature at a certain location or may be required by law in other situations, such as at most public and government buildings in the US.

The purpose of a wheelchair ramp, generally, is to allow someone who uses a wheelchair access to locations that may otherwise be inaccessible. For the most part, buildings with entrances that are at ground level can be entered by someone in a wheelchair. This can be made easier, however, through the use of automatic doors and similar features that make entrances easier for someone who may be using his or her hands for portability. Buildings with entrances at levels above or below the ground level, however, may not be as easy to access for someone in a wheelchair without the use of a wheelchair ramp.


There are typically two main types of wheelchair ramps: permanent structures and temporary or portable ramps. A permanent wheelchair ramp is typically located outside or inside of a building and allows someone in a wheelchair to more easily enter or exit a doorway. This is often done with buildings that have a raised entryway that otherwise requires someone to ascend several steps to the entryway. A wheelchair ramp can be built running along the side of the building, ending at the top where a landing allows someone in a wheelchair to easily enter the building.

Portable wheelchair ramps can also be utilized to make otherwise inaccessible areas more accessible for someone in a wheelchair. A wheelchair ramp could be used to help someone get into or out of a vehicle, for example, such as a van or bus. Similar portable ramps could also be used to create a flat surface on a short stairway, allowing someone in a wheelchair to ascend or descend the stairs and gain access to a building. Some types of buildings may be required to provide a wheelchair ramp or other type of accessibility to people with disabilities; government, service, and public buildings in the US, such as hospitals and schools, usually must be wheelchair accessible.



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