- Disabilities & the Disabled
Folding Wheelchair Ramp
If you want to be able to tackle most obstacles on a wheelchair—or someone you know who is on one—a folding wheelchair ramp is a necessity. The world we move in is not a flat one. Unfortunately for our disabled brothers and sisters, the world as we know it, is and has always been for the healthy person—stairs, steps, and obstacles everywhere. No matter how much we make our surroundings disabled-friendly, it is hard to eliminate everything that can hinder their path.
Having a handy ramp available at all times is a Godsend. These folding ramps are very non-obtrusive and do not need much space when stored, so having one around is not a hassle. When they fold, they are very light and thin, and most of the mimic suitcases in that they have a carry handle at the top (as in the photo below). You can even ask a companion or a friend to carry one for you, for example on a trip, without any hassle.
Tips on buying a folding wheelchair ramp
When in the market for one, there are multiple factors one must consider. At the top of the list is the length of the ramp—unfolded length. This obviously is a personal choice but in order to make a fair decision, I suggest looking at obstacles that you tackle regularly. When I say regularly, I mean in those places that you frequent the most. Forget about your house as you can afford to have a permanent ramp for that. Take note of the height of the step and see if it falls within the average height of steps in places you frequent most.
This ought to tell you how long your ramp should be. A short ramp will obviously become too steep, ergo dangerous, and a long ramp, while easier to go up on, can become too bulky and therefore end up not usable. If you need a ramp for your car, figure out how high the car is from the ground—however for cars and vans, you can opt to leave it in permanently so you can afford a longer ramp.
The next thing to consider is how the ramp folds. From experience, there are two kinds of folding ramps. First is the one that folds in half and one that folds two ways—lengthwise and crosswise. Going for the latter could mean a little more in the price area but you can opt for longer ramps as its folded length automatically becomes half the ramp length.
Finally, make sure to get one that has been fabricated decently. For example, a welded unit is stronger than a riveted one. Make sure of its materials—for example, stainless and lightweight metals. Make sure of its capacity rating, as we all know how this can be troublesome. And also, see to it that the surface has some sort of skid resistant tape for traction—this is pretty much a standard but you need to make sure.
We talked about the length of the ramp before but as for the width of the ramp, this is pretty much standard. Most manufacturers know that standard track with of wheelchairs so this should not be a problem. In any case, a width of 30 inches should be ample enough.
Another standard feature worth considering is the handles. As mentioned earlier, these ramps look like suitcases when folded. Just make sure to get one that has handles as this feature is very important and useful.