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Design Overview


DVD disc DVD Excerpt: The Design Considerations video (WMV format [05:20] 10,331 KB) shows examples of poorly designed ramps.
The Design Factors video (WMV format [03:11] 6,118 KB) discusses designing for individual needs.
These videos are excerpted from the new Ramp Project DVD; four excerpts are avalable online. This DVD is available for purchase from MCIL.

This chapter reprints materials regarding ramps from the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency Home Accessibility Information Series and from excerpts The Breaking New Ground Resource Center, A Special Technical Report Plowshares #11: Guidelines for Construction of Ramps Used in Rural Settings, in order to familiarize you with ramp design principles. Both articles were written before the development of modular ramp systems.

From Plowshares #11:

Ramps are an important feature in accessing a home or agricultural building. This applies not only to people who use wheelchairs but also to those who have difficulty climbing stairs, such as people who have arthritis or hemiplegia and those who use walkers, crutches or canes. To be safe and most effective, ramps should be built with a few basic guidelines in mind.

Slope: Slope is the term used to describe how steep a ramp is. The slope is extremely important because it affects how difficult it is to travel up and down the ramp. If the slope is too steep, the ramp may be too difficult for someone to use or may even be unsafe.

Comparison of 1:12 and 1:20 slopes
[sketch comparing slopes]

A more gentle slope has less resistance for either walking or wheeling.

The 1 to 12 slope should be seen as the steepest slope to be built and may be too steep for some people.

Width: The width of the ramp should be at least 36 inches.

Before building a ramp ask this question:

"Is a ramp the best solution?"

There may be alternatives available that will do a better job of meeting the needs of all of the people involved. Sometimes a new set of long-trend low-riser steps can be built for a person using canes, crutches or a walker. Sometimes, a lifting device can be used rather than building a ramp. Consider the length of time the access solution is likely to be needed. If the anticipated need is quite short, it may be cost-effective to consider alternate living arrangements. Many factors need to be evaluated in order to come up with the solution that best meets your needs. Assistance for access planning may be available from a Center for Independent Living in your area.

Look on page ii of this manual for a listing of Centers in Minnesota as well as other resource information.

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