Unless you bought your home after you started using a wheelchair, chances are, you didn’t check the builder’s plans to see if the layout supports a wheelchair ramp. Unfortunately, anything from an inconveniently placed driveway to a too-small yard can prevent the installation of the ramp you want. Are you looking for alternatives? This guide can help.
Wheelchair Ramp Alternatives
Making a home accessible is no easy task – but some homes are easier to work with than others are. The suggestions we offer will not work for everybody but each addresses a completely different need. You may be restricted by the size of your lawn, of the cost of installing a standard ramp on such a small lawn, or perhaps your stairs are simply too steep for a ramp.
There are always alternatives. Platform and stair lifts are by far the most popular options but we’ll discuss some alternatives to these alternatives a little later in this guide.
Platform lifts are great for very long or steep staircases. They are primarily indoor machines, but the outdoor models are just as versatile. A vertical platform lift operates much like an elevator. You can roll right in and unlock the motor with a key. The key prevents unauthorized access so you can feel safe leaving the machine unattended.
There are two types of stair lifts for people who use wheelchairs. The first type is the platform lift. A platform lift inclines and allows you to ride up the stairs while seated comfortably on your stair lift. A regular stair lift (sometimes called a “stair chair”) requires transferring out of your wheelchair to sit on the lift chair. This is the cheapest option available, suitable for very long staircases if need be, but the transferring part is often what causes people to opt for the simpler platform style.
When the Alternatives Won’t Work
If you have a short staircase and your only limitation is a small lawn, you might be a candidate for a collapsible ramp. These ramps are for travelling but you can use them at home too – since they are removable, you’ll have to set them up each time you wish to go in or outdoors. The advantage is that the temporary nature of a portable ramp allows you to block the driveway or sidewalk for a few minutes while you use it.
The best part about the temporary ramp is that you don’t have to obstruct the stairway and you don’t have to include it when measuring your available yard space. Many portable ramps fit right over the stairs.
None of the above will do? There is no way to make the home more accessible as it stands? You still have options.
Sometimes it’s cheaper to install an entrance door on a more accessible part of the house. You might ask a lift or ramp installer to quote the price of a ramp on other sides of your house, and then figure out what a contractor would charge to install a door and possibly a simple sidewalk up to the entrance. This is obviously not a cost-effective or realistic solution for everybody, but the combined price of a door and small ramp is much easier on the wallet compared to a five or six foot mobility lift.
If only every home were built with accessibility in mind. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Sometimes installing a wheelchair ramp just isn’t possible – we hope that the alternatives will serve you well.