A recent independent study of seven rubber wheelchair ramps from leading manufacturers, conducted by Sotter Engineering Corporation, revealed that only two of the seven ramps met the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) minimum requirements for slope and grade.
Standards used in the study were those in the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design which, as of March 2012, are required compliance specifications for Title II and Title III construction. Barrier removal products, such as wheelchair ramps, have specific requirements for the front edges, grades, and slopes of transition in order to provide equal access to public accommodations for people with disabilities.
“We measured the slope and vertical change in level on seven different ramps,” explained John Sotter of Sotter Engineering. “Five of them had acceptable vertical change measurements, but only two of them had acceptable slope (which may not be steeper than 1:12).”
The two ramps that met both standards were a SafePath Products model and a Pride Mobility Products model. Full results of the study are available online.
The study was undertaken to provide accurate information to architects, engineers, and builders, who prior to this study only had marketing claims of manufacturers to guide them.
“Although the government established the ADA requirements, they have not established an agency to police compliance,” said Sotter. “It is up to individual project managers to be certain that products they use meet the standards.”
With advancement of electronic measuring devices there is likely to be increased scrutiny placed on both manufacturers and the building industry to guarantee that products comply with standards.
California-based Sotter Engineering Corporation has been testing flooring slip resistance for more than 20 years. The company conducts both lab and field tests and is licensed by the State of California Board for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors (license #3028) and Certified by the City of Los Angeles for Pedestrian Slip Resistance Testing.