Monday, August 16, 2010

Wheelchair Ramps That Kill

Some people just don't get the idea about a wheelchair ramp. Ignoring ADA or other local disability regulations, they simply create any incline and call it a wheelchair ramp. Some do not understand that an unsafe wheelchair ramp can be worse than no wheelchair ramp at all.

Unsafe wheelchair ramps can result in painful injuries or much worse. Last month Jeremy Hammitt of Oregan was injured when he was knocked out of his wheelchair when trying to manuever over an improperly built wheelchair ramp while trying to catch a bus. Winnie Young of California was killed as a result of a ramp which had no side protectors and a dangerous drop off. Her family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the ramp construction company and the owners of the restaurant she was trying to visit.

Unsafe ramps can be found everywhere, even if it is not always clear what the purpose is. Some may argue that unsafe ramps were designed not for wheelchairs, but for strollers or cycles such as these dangerous ramps.

But if a flight of stairs or other obstacle exists and a ramp is required for a stroller or a cycle to have access the ramp should be made safe for a wheelchair user as well or a reasonable alternative should be readily available. To do otherwise, allows access to the cyclist or stroller and excludes the wheelchair user. Therefore, any ramp being built for some kind of public access, should be built to specifications allowing access for wheelchair users. Some wheelchair ramp design considerations are discussed in this wheelchair ramp article and in this video:



Bottom line is, if there is an obstacle and a ramp is necessary for access for some, consult with someone experienced building ramps to legal standards which allow access to wheelchair users. To do otherwise risks unfairly excluding wheelchair users or worse, causing serious bodily injury.

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