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Wheelchair Ramp Specifications – What You Need to Know

Table of Contents

A wheelchair ramp is designed to meet various requirements. Standard ramp specifications ensure safety and accessibility and these must be taken into account when selecting or installing a ramp. They also play a part in meeting building codes and ADA or standards, as this article will discuss.

What is a Wheelchair Ramp?

A ramp is any sloped surface that people on wheelchairs and other mobility devices can use to access or exit buildings and other places. This can be a permanent or a temporary handicap ramp: it depends on the purpose and type of usage situation.

Different materials can make wheelchair ramps. Examples are wood, metal, or concrete, and sometimes also rubber or polyurethane. Again, it depends on the ramp’s purpose and other factors, such as how durable or portable you want it to be.

For example, there are foldable ramps that can be carried around. These are often made of lightweight aluminum. Permanent wheelchair ramps are mostly concrete, although other materials may also be used. For portability, the ramp may be modular design or fuse lightweight materials.

Wheelchair ramps must be safe and easy to use. Most importantly, they must meet certain specifications, such as those set by the ADA. The local building codes too, may dictate ramp designs, though that depends on your specific location.

Wheelchair ramp slope requirements
Wheelchair ramp slope requirements

Wheelchair Ramp Specifications

To ensure its safety and accessibility, a wheelchair ramp must adhere to certain specifications. These ramp standards, depending on where you live, can be either ADA-mandated or determined by a local building code. This is a roundup of these ramp guidelines for wheelchairs and other mobility devices requirements. Check them out to make sure your ramp meets them all:


Starting with the ramp height for wheelchair accessibility, here what you need to know: Ramp height means the vertical rise over which the ramp extends. The maximum height allowed is usually a ratio of 1:12.

That means for every 12 inches (or 30.5 cm) of horizontal distance, the ramp can rise no more than 1 inch in height. In other words, a 1 inch rise should be compensated by a foot of ramp length.

This ramp height ratio allows for a gentle slope that is navigable for wheelchair users. It also means user safety and stability on the ramp. ADA ramp specifications mostly concern commercial or public use. In residential settings, requirements may not be as strict.


Wheelchair ramp specifications for width require at least 36 inches (91.4 cm) from handrail to handrail. This is the minimum width for a ramp used by people with mobility disabilities, such as wheelchair users. Note that the ramp specifications for width do not include the rails.

The ADA ramp specifications for width allows enough room to climb up and down without risking hitting any obstacles. However, it is recommended to build or install wider ramps for a more comfortable and accessible passage, especially if it’s a permanent ramp that will not be easy to alter later.


Wheelchair ramp slope is the measurement of the steepness of a ramp. The slope or gradient is usually expressed as a ratio between the height over which the ramp extends (rise) and its length (run). Put another way, it’s the amount of ramp elevation change you get for every foot of ramp length.

The maximum slope set by ADA wheelchair ramp requirements is 1:12, as mentioned earlier. This is what it means: that for every 12 inches of horizontal distance, the ramp can rise not more than one inch in height.

It represents the minimum slope that makes it easy for wheelchair users and other mobility device operators to navigate ramps safely. The ramp specifications for slope also take into account the mobility of manual wheelchairs.

Landing Size

Ramp specifications also include the landing size. This is the flat area at the top and bottom of a ramp. Ramp specs for these requirements are given below:

  • The landing must also be at least as wide as the ramp, with a minimum width of 36 inches (91.4 cm) and, at the very least, 60 inches length.
  • In situations where the landing changes direction, ramp requirements also change to 60 inches for both length and width.


It’s also required that all wheelchair ramps have handrails. These ensure additional safety. Based on the ramp specifications for wheelchair and other devices, this is what’s required:

  • The ADA ramp specifications state that both sides of the ramp must have a railing that extends 12’’ for a ramp that rises 6 inches.
  • Other ramp guardrail requirements include 28-inch height and 9-inch separation where children will use the structure.
  • Hand rails must also be a constant height for the ramp’s length and free from hazardous projections.


Ramp specifications for surfaces aim to provide a smooth and slip-resistant surface for wheelchair and other mobility device users such as those using walkers. Disability ramp specifications recommend anyone installing or making a ramp ensure it offers safe passage.

This can be done in a number of ways. For instance, you could cover the ramp surface with a rubber mat or tape to make it slip resistance. Other options include painting the surface to increase grip, or even designing the ramp with ridges and perforations.


These are the ramp specifications for wheelchair and other mobility device users. The specs are meant to ensure the safety and convenience of handicapped persons, and required of building or business owners in public places.

Properly constructed amps will make it easier for people with mobility disabilities or impairments to access buildings and other areas. With these in mind, designers can ensure that their ramps are compliant with ADA standards and provide an accessible environment.

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