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Guidelines for Handicap Ramps

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has some specific requirements for handicap ramps that are being used in renovated places or newly constructed facilities. In order to find the technical requirements, they are located under ADA Accessibly Guidelines, Chapter 4.

Overview of Handicap Ramp Requirements

When there are changes in the level that is greater than half an inch off the floor or surface, then these areas will need to be ramped. Ramps need to be located adjacent to or in close proximity of the same routes that the general public uses.

Slope, Width and Rise: The ramp must have a running slope that is sloped in the same direction someone travels of no more than 1:12. The slope perpendicular to the running slope can’t be more than 1:48. These portions are designed to match the physical abilities of most people, whether they are in wheelchairs or are ambulatory. A steeper slope is allowed in existing facilities if there is less space in order to have a more gradual slope. There must be a minimum width of 36 inches between handrails. The maximum allowable rise for a ramp length is 30 inches.

Landings: Landings are necessary at the top and bottom of ramps and must be as wide as the ramp, as well as level. There is a minimum length of 60 inches. It’s possible for the door maneuver clearance to overlap the ramp landing. If landings are located where they may be exposed to water and become wet, they have to be designed so water won’t accumulate on them.

Handrails: Handrails are needed on both sides of the ramp and can’t have a rise of more than six inches. There are a number of handrail requirements that must be complied with. Some of these requirements include the handrails having to be the same length as the ramp, be continuous between ramp runs, and extend at least 12 inches beyond the ramp at both the bottom and top landings when it is not continuous. There must also be a space of 1.5 inches between the handrail and wall. Handrails will need to be solidly fixed and extend into a wall, floor, or post, or be rounded when the handrails end.

Edge Protection: When applicable, edge protection is necessary for landings and ramp runs. Edge protection can be achieved by providing a surface of at lest 12 inches farther than the inside handrail face. This will limit a wheelchair from slipping off the landing or ramp.

Some states can have their own guidelines for ramp requirements, which may be more restrictive than federal law. California and Massachusetts have guidelines that require ramps for business to have a 48-inch minimum usage width.