In the United States, over 61 million individuals have a disability. Studies from the CDC reveal that mobility issues affect 1 in 7 adults, making it the most common type of disability. Individuals with mobility issues often experience difficulty when it comes to walking on stairs.
In light of this, it’s essential to learn how to make stairs handicap accessible. In private homes and businesses open to the public, there are many accessibility solutions for those with mobility issues.
Below, find information and ideas to aid in your effort to create a more convenient pathway.
Ways to make stairs handicap accessible
What it is: Also known as stair chairs or stairway chairlifts, a stair lift is a motorized device that takes users up and down a staircase while seated in a chair. The chair is attached to a rail that is secured to the treads of the staircase. They come in straight or curved rail options and can be customized to suit a specific staircase. While stair lifts are not ideal for wheelchair users, they are often the best solution for people who can walk but have safety concerns about going up and down stairs.
Why it’s a great handicap accessible solution: A stair lift is an excellent option for residential staircases and certain commercial applications because there is zero construction required to install one. A typical stair lift installation takes less than one day. Moreover, stair lifts do not take up a lot of space in an area. The compact build allows them to fit in small spaces.
What it is: A ramp creates a smooth and elevated path for wheelchair users to travel on. Ramps usually have a specific slope, or pitch, that is allowed. In public buildings, this requires 12 inches in horizontal run for each 1 inch in vertical rise. For example, in a commercial building, if you have a two-foot rise, you would need a 24-foot long ramp, not including any intermediate landings. In a private home, less space is required than in commercial buildings, but a ramp will still take up considerably more space than a lift when steps are involved.
Why it’s a great handicap accessible solution: Ramps are easy to install and come in a range of material options. With aluminum, wood and more options, there are materials for each design preference. Keep in mind that ramps may require exertion on the part of wheelchair users, so they are not ideal in every situation.
As you consider how to make a set of stairs handicap accessible, remember that the options go beyond stair attachments. The accessibility solutions below let users bypass the stairs altogether for easy passage. Read on to learn which solutions can work in your space!
Vertical Platform Lifts
What it is: Next up on how to make stairs handicap accessible are vertical platform lifts (VPLs). VPLs feature a platform base that is powered by a drive mechanism. Unlike stair lifts that travel in an angled position, VPLs move in a straight up and down path.
Why it’s a great handicap accessible solution: When elevators don’t fit or are impractical, vertical platform lifts are a great accessibility option. These machines provide up to 14’0″ of travel in public and residential spaces. The platform is designed so that wheelchair users can remain seated while utilizing the VPL.
What it is: Take accessibility to the next level (no pun intended) with the addition of a home elevator. Like elevators in commercial settings, home elevators take users between levels with the push of a button.
Why it’s a great handicap accessible solution: There is no need to navigate the stairs when users can move with ease in a home elevator. Because these elevators are constructed to fit within your home’s unique design, you can be sure you’re getting the perfect model. There are multiple customizable options for an elevator that blends with the decor and style of your home.
What it is: A limited use/ limited application elevator is a compact elevator designed to provide accessibility for wheelchair users. LU/LA elevators are typically ideal for commercial buildings where full-sized elevators are impractical.
Why it’s a great handicap accessible solution: These elevators take up less space than traditional elevators and are more cost-effective. LU/LA elevators can accommodate loads over 1000 pounds as opposed to the hundreds of pounds that lifts can support. For small businesses, churches and restaurants, LU/LAs are a popular choice.
Find the accessibility solution that suits your home or business
As you can see from the list above, there’s no shortage of ways to make a multi-level home or business accessible. But selecting the right choice can be overwhelming in the face of multiple options.
The stair lift and elevator experts at Arrow Lift can guide you in your search handicap accessible solutions. With over 35 years of experience, Arrow Lift helps businesses and individuals create more accessible spaces.
Whether you have questions about accessibility requirements or want to browse solutions with experienced professionals, Arrow Lift is here to help. Contact us today to learn more!