Mobility-impaired people, such as wheelchair users, require ramps to access different levels. The ramps must be safe to use for both the wheelchair user and able-bodied people. Safety features that need to be taken into account include the height and gradient of the ramp. North Carolina law requires that wheelchair ramps are provided in all public facilities. The wheelchair ramp requirements in North Carolina follow the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accessibility Guidelines.
The maximum permitted slope on a ramp is a 1:12 ratio, and the maximum height of a ramp run is 30 inches. Allowances are made for buildings that already exist. In these cases, if space does not permit a 1:12 ratio slope, for ramps of heights from 0 to 3 inches then a slope of 1:8 to 1:10 may be used. For ramps up to 6 inches high, a slope of 1:10 to 1:12 may be used.
Ramps must have a clear width of at least 36 inches.
Landings are required at the base and summit of every ramp run (segment). The minimum landing width must be the same as that of the ramp. Landings should measure at least 60 inches in length.
Landings where ramps change directio are required to be at least 60 inches by 60 inches. If a doorway is present on a landing, there must be adequate space for the wheelchair when the door is opened and closed.
Handrails are required on each side of the ramp if it is more than 6 inches high or 72 inches long. Exceptions to this rule include curb ramps and ramps that are next to seating in assembly areas.
The inside of the handrail should be continuous on switchback or dogleg ramps. When handrails are not continuous, they should extend at least 12 inches longer than the top and the bottom of the ramp, running parallel to the floor.
There should be a gap between the wall and the handrail of at least 1 1/2 inches, and the handrail should be at least 34 inches high.
Handrails should be immobile in their fittings.
- wheelchair access sign image by Gina Smith from Fotolia.com