Friday, May 16, 2008

Ramps and Spring

I read an article recently about ramps. It took me a minute to get oriented. The author described the origin of the word as “ram,” the early English word for wild garlic. What? It turns out that ramps are also wild leeks, a kind of green onion or scallion. Who knew? It reminded me, though, that I have wanted to write about the other kind of ramp for a while now. The kind that helps you access places and experiences you might not otherwise be able to do.

The U.S. made accessibility the law in the 1990s. Of course there were ramps before then, but I know I did not see as many. And most at the time were primarily made of wood. While wood is still preferred among many, you will find more and more aluminum versions, especially when a temporary ramp will do the trip.

Learning about slope has been an interesting process for me and our team. The ADA has its requirements for new construction where the ratio must be 1:12. This means that for every 12-inch rise the slope cannot be greater than 1 inch. This means that if you are trying to get a ramp up two steps, each of which has a rise of 6 inches, you would need a 12 foot ramp. Most manufacturers of portable solid, threshold and multifold ramps will advise that you should not exceed 2 inches per 12 inch rise if the chair or scooter is occupied. That means for that same 12 inch rise as above you would need a 6 foot ramp. Some folks have able-bodied individuals with them while they travel in a van, for example, who can move the vehicle unoccupied up the ramp into the van or SUV. In these cases, it is possible to consider 3 inches for every 12. So, in our example, you could use a 4 foot ramp. The slope would be steep so upper body strength would be essential, and, as we said, no one could be riding in it.

People are always surprised about how much runway they truly need when considering a ramp for a home or a vehicle. The choices are many. Multifold ramps come in several lengths, providing the option of using only when needed. I find I can move and carry a 5 foot or 6 foot multifold ramp due to its design and compact shape. However, once the ramp crosses to 8 feet or more, it’s like lifting cement. I just cannot do it. Always being clear about the strengths and limitations of any mobility and accessibility device will save you so much frustration!

Threshold ramps are increasingly popular as people look to stay in their homes regardless of their physical conditions and situations. Threshold ramps, also in sizes to accommodate the height of thresholds in homes, allow for easy access into rooms that might otherwise present risk of falls or difficulty. Always measure before you show up to make a purchase. Guessing just does not work as Amy T. will tell you.

She came in one evening ready to get everything she thought she needed to make her home comfortable and accessible for her dad. He was still walking, albeit it slowly and with a walker. She would buy him a scooter once he got settled in order to facilitate shopping and going out and about with her. For now, she was focused on the bathroom, bedroom, kitchen and living room. She had done quite a few preparations and had her list. As we made our way through the list, I asked her a number of questions about his abilities and the house. One of the first questions I asked was whether there were thresholds in the home. She stared at me blankly. “I think so. Don’t all homes have thresholds?” We laughed at how easy it is to forget what we live with every day. She called her sister and asked if she remembered. Her sister noticed that she had thresholds, but could not remember. Amy really did not want to go home and come back again in spite of my urgings to do so. She decided to purchase three 8 inch by 32 inch ramps which would be appropriate for a ½ inch threshold rise while he was walking or riding over the threshold. Sure enough, when she got home, she called me right away. Yes, she did have thresholds, but they had a much bigger rise than she had planned for. Bummer! She had to come back after all.

So, measuring is essential to getting the right fit. If you live in the Denver metro area, we offer a home evaluation service. One of our accessibility experts will go to your home and help you make note of the potential changes necessary as well as some product ideas that will help adapt your home, make it safer and more accessible. We also have a complete selection of ramps – not the wild kind – for you to see and test in our spacious store. Our trained staff will be sure to ask you questions to be sure you have covered all bases. Please contact us for more information about this service.

How have ramps changed your life? Post your comment, please.

Take a look at just some of the ramp choices available.

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