If you have never had to use a wheelchair or mobility scooter, you probably have not given much thought to the challenges that wheelchair users face in their daily lives. When bound to a wheelchair, simple daily tasks get more challenging. Having to sit at a lower level compared to a standing person, reaching higher surfaces or hard to reach things like the bathroom or kitchen faucets become very challenging.
On top of the height disadvantage, doorways might be too narrow for the wheelchair. You will need to hire a taxi with disability access if you are going out. Public transit is not the most reliable or accessible. You tend to have to depend on other people for help to do basic things that able-bodied people take for granted.
Legislation for Wheelchair-Bound
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has helped tremendously by legislating that public places and amenities have to be accessible for those with disabilities and disabled people have the same right to access and enjoyment as non-disabled people.
If you are constructing a new space or if you are lagging behind on the ADA regulations, you need to think about how you will go about making your space accessible to wheelchair users.
Stairs can be Problematic
Stairs have always been the biggest challenge to providing accessibility. Unfortunately they are everywhere from our homes to stores and many places in between. They don’t even have to be high to result in problems for wheelchair and mobility scooter users, a simple 1″ high threshold of a doorway can be problematic.
The two most commonly used solutions to stairs are ramps and lifts. Ramps are usually the simpler solution, but there are many ramp options and you will have to consider which one is right for your business or development.
Temporary Set-up for Accessibility
A temporary ramp might work at access points with less traffic; however a non-permanent set up can be unsightly. A permanent ramp might be a better option in areas with higher traffic. There is the solid ramp or a modular ramp which might have a series of ramps connected to form a solid ramp or walkway that is optimally angled.
A vertical platform lift is an alternative to providing access. They usually cost more but are more practical in areas where a ramp might not work like a narrow corridor or where going to another level would require a ramp that is impractically long.
Vertical platform lifts can lift a wheelchair or scooter from a couple of inches to several meters high. They are simple to self-operate and can carry fairly heavy weights.
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