Locations defined as public spaces, or where the general public has access, must meet the minimum requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The act states that all structures, whether pre-existing or new, must adhere to certain design standards to comply with disability inclusion. Ideally, this gives people of all abilities the same easy access to areas of work, necessity, and recreation. Below we highlight and summarize some of the most important guidelines to follow when choosing and installing a commercial ramp, and where you can find those guidelines in the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design.
Remove Barriers from Buildings
This may seem fairly common sense, but it’s important to note exactly what the ADA defines as a barrier for individuals with physical disabilities. If barriers are not properly identified and removed, the location is liable for not meeting specified standards.
The ADA recognizes barriers as “changes in level greater than ½ inch (13mm) high” because this is the height at which many individuals with physical limitations start having challenges with access. An individual using a wheelchair, scooter, walker, or other assistive technology should always have access to an alternative route, such as an ADA-compliant ramp, if the change in levels is greater than ½ inch.
Ramp Design Standards
The following specs are some of the minimum requirements established by the ADA in order to ensure ramp users can safely and easily navigate the access solution:
Ramp Runs – Ramp runs must have a running slope not steeper than 1:12. There may be an exception if the ramp is working around a pre-existing element, but must not exceed a slope steeper than 1:8.
Rise – The maximum rise for any ramp is 30 inches (760 mm). (Section 405.6). To be compliant with ADA regulations, you need a 60″ x 60″ resting platform for every additional 30 feet of ramp.
Landings – Ramps need to have landings at the top and the bottom of each ramp run.
The landing clear width should be at least as wide as the widest ramp run leading to the landing. (Section 405.7.2)
The landing clear length should be 60 inches (1525 mm) long minimum. (Section 405.7.3)
Change in Direction – Ramps that change direction between runs at landings shall have a clear landing of 60 inches (1525 mm) minimum by 60 inches (1525 mm) minimum. (Section 405.7.4)
Edge Protection – A curb or barrier shall be provided that prevents the passage of a 4-inch (100 mm) diameter sphere, where any portion of the sphere is within 4 inches (100 mm) of the finish floor or ground surface. (Section 405.9.2)
Ramp Handrail Standards
When to Have Handrails – Ramp runs with a rise greater than 6 inches (150 mm) need to have handrails that comply with Section 505. (Section 405.8)
Where to Place Handrails – Handrails must be on both sides of the ramp. (Section 505.2)
Height – The top of gripping surfaces of handrails need to be 34 inches (865 mm) minimum and 38 inches (965 mm) maximum vertically above ramp surfaces. (Section 505.4)
Clearance – Clearance between handrail gripping surfaces and adjacent surfaces should be 1 1/2 inches (38 mm) minimum. (Section 505.5)
Gripping Surface – Handrail gripping surfaces need to be continuous along their length and cannot be obstructed along their tops or sides. The bottoms of handrail gripping surfaces also can’t be obstructed for more than 20 percent of their length. (Section 505.6)
Top and Bottom Extension at Ramps – Ramp handrails shall extend horizontally above the landing for 12 inches (305 mm) minimum beyond the top and bottom of ramp runs. Extensions shall return to a wall, guard, or the landing surface, or shall be continuous to the handrail of an adjacent ramp run. (Section 505.10.1)
While this is a fairly comprehensive guide for ADA-compliant wheelchair ramps, don’t forget about state building codes.
Each state has structural and accessibility codes to abide by for each location. If you want a ramp for any location, our PATHWAY® HD Code Compliant Modular Access System meets ADA guidelines, as well as IBC, OSHA, and most local building codes!