Permanent Disability Ramps


Permanent ramps are fixtures at the homes of those who use wheelchairs.  They’re also a key component of all public accommodations due to the requirements of the American With Disabilities Act (ADA).  Buildings that cater to the public and workplaces must be wheelchair accessible and that’s usually accomplished with an ADA-compliant permanent ramp.  Permanent ramps come in a few different forms.

Concrete Ramps


Concrete disability ramps are considered the most solid and long-lasting option.  They’re frequently part of new building construction and even older buildings have been retrofitted with these structural ramps.  They’re occasionally used in residential settings, too.  Obviously, creation of a concrete ramp requires the services of a professional.  These ramps are also considerably more expensive than most alternatives.

Wood Ramps


Wood ramps are usually the most cost-effective permanent option.  They do have more maintenance costs and requirements than many other ramp types, but they’re certainly more affordable to install.  Wood ramps can take a variety of forms, depending on the surrounding topography and the structure being serviced.  Due to their potential for aesthetic appeal, wood ramps are often used for homes.  Simple, straight wood ramps are a great “handy man” project, but those who use wood in settings governed by the ADA will usually enlist the services of an experienced contractor.

Metal Ramps


The most common kind of metal disability ramps are made from aluminum alloys.  Aluminum is a great option because it is quite light and easy to work with.  It’s also relatively inexpensive and holds up well to the elements.  Some aluminum ramps are “true” permanent structures, but many are semi-portable modular units, assembled in pieced based on the building’s needs.

Galvanized steel is another popular metal ramp option.  It is heavier than aluminum (and more expensive) but it is very solid.  Additionally, it’s possible to build ramps that use a grated surface, which stops the accumulation of ice, snow and rain, improving wheelchair traction.  Like their aluminum counterparts, galvanized steel ramps can be part of a modular arrangement.

Modular disability ramps are built in component parts and can be disassembled and moved.  In most cases, however, they are long-term solutions, capable of meeting ADA standards.  As such, we’ve listed them as permanent disability ramps.

Portable Disability Ramps


While all public accommodations are supposed to be ADA-compliant, that doesn’t mean that all situations allow for easy access.  Buildings not governed by the law may not be accessible and many other areas and situations require the use of some form of ramp if one is to traverse them in a wheelchair.  This reality has led to the production of many different portable options.

General Characteristics

Although there are exceptions (larger, heavier temporary units, for instance) most portable ramps are made of a lightweight metal or other weather-resistant materials.  They’re built to help the chair user manage challenging short distances including stairways, curbs and rough terrain.  Portable ramps are created with travel in mind.  That means they’re usually constructed in a way that allows the user to move them from place to place quite easily.

Folding and Multifold Wheelchair Ramps

The most common way of making a portable ramp easy to move is to build it from multiple sections that are hinged in a way that allows them to fold up for efficient storage.  A one-hinge ramp is called a folding model.  Those built from more sections are referred to as multi-fold wheelchair ramps.  Generally speaking, single-hinged folding options will be a bit sturdier than their multi-fold counterparts will.

Most folding ramps are made of aluminum.  While they can handle considerable weight, they’re not recommended for permanent use.  They just aren’t as sturdy as modular or permanent products and the presence of hinging makes them less solid that single-piece structures.

Telescoping Ramps

Not all portable ramps fold up.  Some of them actually collapse into themselves.  Telescoping ramps, built from a series of segments that are graduated in size and that can then slide together for easy storage are very popular.  They’re generally made from the same materials as folding ramps.  They’re unique construction can make them very space-efficient, featuring a lower profile than hinge-based portables.

Suitcase Disability Ramps

Just as the name implies, suitcase ramps actually fit into a suitcase-like piece of luggage.  This makes them easier to travel with than other portable options.  Due to size constraints, these ramps are usually shorter than many other portable ramps.  They are a wonderful choice for anyone traveling.

Roll-Up Ramps

Imagine a roll-top desk.  That’s the basic idea underlying roll-up ramps.  They consist of multiple strips of aluminum fastened to one another to create a flexible ramp that can be unrolled across a variety of surfaces.  While these roll-ups can be used in “standard” ramp situations, they’re also ideal for circumstances when one may be competing with flatter, yet rougher terrain.  As one might guess, these ramps are particularly lightweight.  That makes them ideal for travel, but makes them less sturdy than what one might want in a regular portable ramp option.

Heavy Duty Portable Disability Ramps

While all of the portable options we’ve mentioned thus far are ideal for travel and easy transport, there are other heavier, sturdier options that aren’t permanent.  These include heavy-duty rental units and ramps used in and around construction sites when the permanent ramp is rendered inaccessible due to activity.  These ramps are portable in the sense that they can be moved from site to site as necessary, but they’re far to large and heavy for personal use.

Heavy-duty portable ramps may be found at weddings, public gatherings and other events in locations that aren’t otherwise easily accessible.  They’re generally positioned and later removed by the renter/seller.  These commercial-grade portables are an ideal solution for a variety of high-traffic situations.

Threshold Disability Ramps

Theoretically, threshold ramps could be placed in either the permanent or temporary categories.  It is possible to utilize one of these small ramps in temporary situations or as a fixture.  Threshold ramps, as the name suggests, are used to make it easy to traverse a doorway or other small, uneven patch.

Threshold ramps can be made of metals or high-impact plastics.  In some cases, people will make their own threshold ramps from wood for use in their homes.  While most other portable options are designed for exterior use, threshold models are often used as interior ramps.  You’ll see them in many older homes and stores.