Ensuring Accessibility: How to Measure for a Handicap Ramp

Creating accessible spaces is not just about good intentions; it’s about taking practical steps to ensure everyone can easily navigate public and private environments, regardless of their mobility. Adding a handicap ramp is a crucial aspect of accessibility; however, accurate measurements are essential to do it properly. In this blog, we will guide you through the process of measuring for an access ramp to ensure it meets the necessary standards and provides a safe and convenient passage for all.

 Understanding the Importance of Accurate Measurements

 Before diving into the specifics of measuring for a handicap ramp, it’s crucial to recognize why accurate measurements matter. A ramp that is too steep or too narrow can be not only inconvenient but also dangerous for individuals with mobility issues. Proper measurements ensure that the ramp complies with accessibility guidelines, creating a safe and inclusive environment.

 1. Know the Regulations

 To start the process, familiarize yourself with local and national regulations regarding handicap ramp construction. In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides comprehensive guidelines for ramp design and accessibility standards. These guidelines cover everything from ramp slope to handrail requirements. Ensure your ramp project adheres to these regulations to guarantee accessibility and legal compliance.

 2. Determine the Required Slope and other Requirements

 One of the most critical measurements to determine the length of the ramp needed is the vertical rise. This means that for every inch of vertical rise, there should be at least 12 inches of ramp length. The ADA stipulates that the maximum allowable slope for a handicap ramp is 1:12. To calculate the necessary ramp length for your specific location, measure the height from the ground to the highest point (in inches) where the ramp will terminate. That number in inches is the number of feet you need in ramp length. 

 For example, if your rise is 24 inches, you will need 24 feet of ramp to be ADA-compliant.

 Therefore, Ramp Length = The number of inches in rise.

 To complicate things further, you must have a resting platform for every 30′ of ramp and a platform at the door if one doesn’t already exist. For example, let’s say you have an office trailer that needs to meet ADA guidelines, and the rise at the door is 36 inches. You intend to run your ramp along the length of the trailer up to the door and then turn to walk through the door. To be ADA compliant, you’ll need a resting platform somewhere in the middle of the 36′ ramp. In the illustration below, we went with 18′ of ramp, a resting platform, and an additional 18′ of ramp to the turning platform at the door.

Platform size, ramp width, handrail placement, and other requirements can vary from state to state. We can help you determine what you need to be ADA and state-compliant. 1-877-258-7423.

  3. Determine the Required Width

 The ADA also provides guidelines for the width of a handicap ramp. In most cases, a standard ramp needs to be a minimum of 36 inches wide between the handrails. In some states, like California and Massachusetts, the ramp width must be 48″. Our commercial wheelchair ramps are 48″ usable width.

 4. Measure the Landing

 At the top and bottom of the ramp, there must be level landing areas. These landing areas provide a stable platform for users to enter and exit the ramp safely. The ADA recommends that the landing platforms be  a minimum of 60 inches by 60 inches. Measure the available space for your landing and make any necessary adjustments to meet these requirements. Some situations will require the upper platform at the door to be longer. We can help you determine what you need.

 5. Calculate Handrail Height

 Handrails are crucial for providing support and stability to individuals using the ramp. ADA guidelines specify that handrails should be between 34 and 38 inches high from the ramp’s surface. Measure the desired handrail height and ensure it falls within this range. Guardrails are 42″ tall.

 6. Determine the Ramp Material

 Another important consideration is the choice of ramp material. Ramps can be made from various materials, including wood, concrete, or aluminum. Each material has its advantages and disadvantages, such as cost, durability, and maintenance requirements. Take these factors into account when planning your ramp project. Aluminum is the preferred material due to its maintenance-free durability.

 7. Consult with Professionals

 If you are unsure about any aspect of the measurements or the construction process, it’s advisable to consult with professionals experienced in building handicap ramps. Architects, contractors, or accessibility experts can provide valuable guidance and ensure that your ramp project meets all necessary standards.

 Creating an accessible environment for individuals with mobility issues is fundamental to inclusivity and social responsibility. Properly measuring for a handicap ramp is critical in this process, as it ensures that the ramp meets all federal ADA, state, and building codes.