In Part 1 of this series on Portable Ramps, I discussed the basic set-up around our house. This article will cover how I determined what sort of ramp setup we needed — Steps 1 through 4 on this mission.
Step 1. Figure out basic needs: I’d already determined that the back door wouldn’t work, even though we already have a ramp leading up to it. This left the front door as the only entry option onto the main level of the house.
Much to my surprise, there were two significant rises outside the front door — an “insignificant” one of under two and a half inches, which isn’t insignificant at all from dad’s point of view — and the actual step, which rises about 8 inches. Item One: we need two inclines and hence, two ramps.
Step 2. Figure out weight limitations: Dad’s heaviest chair weighs about 280 lbs, and dad weighs about 220, so the ramp has to be able to handle 500 lbs. easily.
Step 3. Figure out wheelchair constraints: Dad’s chair has anti-tip bars on the back with very little latitude. I went to the manufacturer’s website to find out the maximum incline his wheelchair permits. It’s 9 degrees, meaning I need ramps which have an incline of 9 degrees or less.
Step 4. Determine type of ramps: The little one’s a no-brainer — I just need a small ramp to smooth out the threshold, but the bigger one is more of a challenge.
I’ve already ruled out built-in as being too expensive, requiring too much planning, and not necessarily feasible when we may be doing some grading in the front next summer.
I’ve ruled out making a removable one, or having one made, because of potential complications and the general unwieldiness of the whole idea. Also ruled out: a wide ramp we can’t store.
By default, the answer seems to be a portable ramp, preferably one we can stash behind the couch in the living room. (The smaller one will go, in its box, into the hall closet.)
The only remaining necessary technical specification is ramp length, which I’ll discuss in Portable Ramps, Part 3.