Ramps are inclined surfaces that join different levels of a space. Commonly used at the entrances of buildings to accommodate level changes from the exterior grade to the interior floor, ramps provide accessibility for wheelchair users, individuals with disabilities, and wheeled equipment. The maximum slope of a ramp is calculated to provide comfortable and easy access to the building. Low ramp slope ratios will require longer runs, while steeper slopes can have shorter lengths.
The concept of using inclined surfaces to join different levels can be traced back to ancient civilizations, such as the Greeks and Romans, who used ramps to access their buildings and structures. In the 20th century, ramps became more widely used as a means of accessibility for people with disabilities. Since the passage of the ADA, ramps have become an essential component of accessible design and are used in a wide range of buildings and public spaces, including homes, schools, offices, and public transportation. Advances in materials and construction techniques have allowed for the development of lighter, more durable ramps that are easier to install and maintain.
Elderly people may prefer ramps over stairs due to physical limitations such as decreased mobility, balance, and strength, which can make climbing stairs difficult and increase the risk of falls. Ramps provide a gentler slope, allowing for a gradual increase in elevation, which can be easier and safer for older individuals to navigate. Additionally, ramps can accommodate mobility aids such as walkers and wheelchairs, providing greater accessibility.
The exact date and inventor of ramps is unknown, as the concept of a sloping surface for ease of movement has likely been utilized by various civilizations throughout history. However, the earliest recorded use of ramps dates back to ancient Egypt, where ramps were used in the construction of pyramids.
Ramps are not always required by law, but the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates that ramps be installed in certain circumstances to ensure accessibility for individuals with disabilities. The specific requirements for ramps depend on the type of building, the height of the elevation change, and the intended use of the space. In some instances, exceptions can be made if it is not technically feasible to install a ramp, but alternative measures must be taken to ensure accessibility.