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Layout Issues: The three most common ramp layouts are:

[sketch of straight ramp layout]
  • "straight-shot"- landings and rampway in a straight line;
[sketch of dog-leg or L-shape ramp layout]
  • "dog-legged" or "L-shaped"- ramp changes direction 90 degrees at an intermediate landing; can also be called a "wrap-around" when it hugs the house;
[sketch of switchback ramp layout]
  • "switchback"- 180 degree change in direction between one run of rampway, an intermediate landing, and another run of rampway.

Generally, ramps follow a path of travel frequently used by all household members, such as from the kitchen to the garage or driveway. However, using a main pathway may create a problem for some households, making it advisable to locate the ramp at a lesser-traveled exit. In some situations, though, none of a home's exits provide a workable ramping option. In these cases it may be necessary to create a new exit. One possibility to consider is converting an existing window into a new doorway-the window area already may have some of the structural framing a doorway needs.

To incorporate a run of stairs off the top landing of the ramp is a good design feature to include, enabling other household members and visitors to enter/exit directly instead of having to use the rampway.

The visual impact of a ramp may be a factor to consider in choosing a layout. Straight ramp runs, particularly those that project directly out into a yard or are extremely long, may look unattractive, while those sited close to/around a house may have a more pleasant appearance. Landscaping (bushes and plants, timbers, etc.) and other finish details (e.g. skirting to mask the area below) can improve appearance as well. Is there a concern about security and "curbside" appearance? If so, locating the ramp to the side or back of a property may minimize the visual indication of a resident with a disability.

Locating the ramp to take advantage of southern exposure so the sun can help dry the surface or melt snow is another factor to keep in mind. Additionally, positioning that takes advantage of neighborhood/lot wind patterns may aid in clearing snow and leaves. There also may be locations near trees or bushes that should be avoided for the leaves or pods they drop.

Don't forget to give some thought to the impact a ramp's location will have on competing yard uses in the area. For example, running a ramp from a door straight through the back yard to the garage may be the most efficient and least costly layout. If this placement limits games and other recreation activities that frequently have gone on in this area, is the tradeoff acceptable? How about ease in mowing? Getting back and forth between a garden area over on one side and where tools are stored on the other?

Ramp intersecting landing at an angle

intersecting landing at an angle
Most landings are designed as squares or rectangles, with rampways usually intersecting them head-on. The resulting seams joining the flat and inclined portion cut perpendicular across the path of travel. If a landing isn't square or rectangular, and/or if a rampway approaches a landing at other than head-on, special attention must be given to making sure that the intersections of the flat and inclined portions still cut perpendicular across the path of travel. If they don't, and if persons using wheelchairs are involved, safety problems may result. The reason for this has to do with the timing when each of the chair's front wheels crosses over the boundary between the flat and inclined surfaces. When the two portions join head on, both wheels pass over the change in surface at the same time. However, if an angled intersection is present, one wheel crosses this boundary ahead of the other, resulting in an imbalance that could potentially cause a descending chair to tip.

Angled landing

angled landing
Angled landings also require special attention. Seams between the flat and inclined portions in this type of construction similarly must join perpendicular to the direction of travel. When wheelchair users are involved, the landing additionally must provide enough space for rolling onto the landing, turning slightly, and rolling off. This is usually about 48" in each direction of travel.

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