Where Disability Ramps Are Used Every Day

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It was not that long ago that one encountered disability ramps almost exclusively at medical facilities and at the homes of wheelchair users.  Society’s recognition of the need for greater levels of accessibility and the legislation it spawned, including the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), has changed that.

Today, one encounters disability ramps in almost all settings.  The ADA mandates all public accommodations to be accessible to those in wheelchairs, and ramps play a huge role in making that happen.  New buildings are almost invariably built with permanent, attached disability ramps and older structures have been retrofitted with permanent or modular ramps.

It is now hard for many of us to believe that there was ever a time where ramps were not a regular part of virtually every building or destination.  Just The once-rare site of a wheelchair ramp is now commonplace.  Ramps are ubiquitous and we are now likely not to notice them because they have become a regular part of public life!  Think about the multiple settings in which disability ramps are used every day.

 

Homes

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Obviously, those who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices need ramps for their homes.  Individual homeowners commonly construct wooden ramps or utilize other modular options for their homes’ entrances.

The ADA does not require accessibility or the use of ramps for private residences.  However, many new homebuilders opt to make them a part of new houses, or at the very least, a readily available option when the homes are built “on spec.”

Apartments and duplexes often feature ramps, too.  That is less a matter of regulatory compliance than it is a business decision.  Not only do easily accessible buildings open properties to more renters, they also avoid the need to do retrofitting on an ad hoc basis.  One can no longer assume that the presence of a ramp indicates that the resident uses a wheelchair.

Workplaces

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If the ADA has changed any one area of public life more than others have, it is the nature of the workplace.  While many recognize that society still has a long way to go in confronting biases in hiring against those who use wheelchairs, we have made amazing strides in terms of workplace accessibility.

It is becoming increasingly rare to find office buildings or other workplaces that are not at least making a good faith effort to comply with the ADA and wheelchair ramps are now readily available in places where they simply did not exist twenty years ago.

Today’s workplace has been built or renovated with heightened accessibility in mind.  Both employees and clients/customers should be able to readily enter and exit the premises using well-built and standards-compliant disability ramps.

Hotels and Resorts

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For years, those in wheelchairs were forced to engage in additional planning and to wrestle with concerns about their ability to enjoy travel.  Many hotels and resorts were not accessible and a simple overnight hotel stay could become a frustrating challenge.

Today, hotels are invariably wheelchair accessible.  More lower-level rooms are outward facing and feature curb cutouts and other aids outdoors as well as threshold ramps and other features.  Additionally, hotels generally provide easy access to pools and other amenities for their guests using wheelchairs.

It is worth noting that foreign travel can still be less predictable.  Different parts of the world have radically different notions of what constitutes accessibility.  In some areas, the very thought of making accommodations for someone in a wheelchair does not seem to have even crossed the minds of hotel and resort ownership.  This is one area in which the ADA has had a marked impact.

Public Transportation

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The idea of taking a bus in a wheelchair probably seemed outlandish to many people only a few decades ago.  Now, it’s commonplace.  Buses usually offer easy-to-use side entry disability ramps.  Trains, light rail and trolleys are often managed in a similar fashion.  Airports are accessible to all and offer ramp options, but boarding and leaving many planes can still be quite difficult.

Shopping and Dining

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The ADA and growing public awareness has made it possible for those in wheelchairs to shop or dine out virtually anywhere.  Retailers are usually acutely aware of accessibility and make the use of disability ramps part of their overall plan.  They use everything from curb cutouts to permanent and modular ramps to threshold ramps at doorways to make sure everyone can enter the establishments.

Once inside, a well-designed store or restaurant is navigable by any wheelchair user.  Some stores remain inconveniently crowded for those in chairs, but you can trust that virtually any store will meet core ADA requirements in terms of entrances and exits.

Stadiums and Theaters

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If you want to be there for the big game and you will be using a wheelchair, you will be able to do it.  If you want to see a concert or show, you will not be “frozen out” do to your use of a chair.

Venues now make a point of providing accessible entrances and they generally feature generously-sized permanent disability ramps.

Those with wheelchairs can request tickets providing them with seating in areas designed to facilitate easy access and convenience.

Other Public Areas

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You will find wheelchair ramps used in parks, public squares and other public gathering places.  While certainly not perfect, government entities have worked particularly hard to improve accessibility and to carefully follow ADA regulations with respect to the use of wheelchair ramps.

Interiors:  Public and Private

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Most of our overview has focused upon exterior use of disability ramps.  That is obviously an essential part of an accessible world, but it is only the beginning.  It is just as important that people be able to make their ways through (and to use) the services or comforts offered within the building!

In larger structures, that may mean providing disability ramps to afford access to particular areas.  In a home environment, it may require little more than putting a few threshold ramps over uneven entryways.  In other cases, as you would undoubtedly guess, the matter is much more complicated.

The use of disability ramps is not a guarantee of real accessibility.  That is why the ADA makes numerous other requirements.  However, ramps are an indispensable part of the process and it is good to see them in use in so many places.

It is not hard to remember when seeing a ramp seemed strange or unusual.  It usually meant that a workplace or store had an employee who used a wheelchair or that the individual living in the home was handicapped.  That is not the case now.

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Today, thanks to the efforts of those who made the ADA possible and who encouraged a shift in perspective on the issues of wheelchairs and accessibility, we see disability ramps almost everywhere!

The next time you are out and about, look around with an eye peeled for disability ramps.  You will find them in a wide variety of locations and in many different forms.  Disability ramps are used in almost every context, every day.

 

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