What You Need to Know about Ramps: ADA Standards

What You Need to Know About Ramps: ADA Standards

As I am sure you know, ramps are one of the most popular pieces of equipment discussed and used when it comes to accessibility.

When I went for my specialized CAPS (Certified Aging in Place Specialist) training, one of the instructor’s pet peeves was ramps. He was so anti ramps because he felt that many times people install a ramp where steps are an obstacle but instead of a clean and simple job, the ramp becomes a tremendous eye sore, it’s clumsy and is usually not installed safely according to ADA standards. His alternative solution was a simple lift.

Lifts are an entire topic within themselves and because I would like to go through all of the options thoroughly and methodically, do me a favor and continue reading all of the posts in this category to get the full picture on all of the options to eliminate steps so that you can make a well-educated decision for you and your loved ones. For more info on lifts, follow these links: Guide to Wheelchair Lifts Basic Understanding and Wheelchair Lift Costs and Recommended Companies


ADA Standards for Ramps

In this post we are going to start with the ADA standards for ramps to get a picture of what is considered a safe ramp. CLICK HERE for more information about what the ADA is and how they play a role in standards for accessibility.

Here is the link for the comprehensive ADA guide on the United States Access Board website which is where the following information was gathered. I will provide you with the basic points which are important for you to know, but feel free to check it out on your own.

Here is a picture of the components to a safe ramp which we will discuss below.

ADA Guidelines for Ramps


One of the biggest challenges when creating the plans for a ramp is following the standard that the slope not exceed a 1:12 ratio.

A 1:12 ratio means that for every 1 inch of rise, there must be 12 inches of ramp length.

The reason for this is that a very steep ramp might seem practical as a space-saver, but if you imagine for a moment actually walking, pushing or propelling yourself up a steep ramp, you will realize that you are not necessarily solving the solution of getting to the front door safely and with minimal physical exertion. Therefore, the ADA created the standard that the slope of a ramp be within a reasonable height; which they decided is maximum of 1:12.



Ramp width should be a minimum of 36 inches wide for adequate wheelchair clearance.

36” is a key number which will come up many times over during the entire process of modfiying your space and is worth committing to memory. 34”-36” is the general recommended clearance when it comes to any passageway, doorway etc. and will therefore come up in every situation where you are discussing an entrance or access opening anywhere in the home. This rule is applicable to ramps in our case over here where we strive to achieve the same clearance principles so that anyone and everyone can get up the ramp and into the home whether or not they are use an assistive mobility device (wheelchair, walker etc.).



The ADA standards include landings as a requirement after every section of 30″ of height (meaning 360″ of length as per the 1:12 slope rule) for rest breaks. If you are doing your own research as well, you will see that the term “run” is used often when discussing ramp. a “run” refers to a long section of a ramp where it is slowly rising up. Using this term in our case we would say that for every 30′ of run there must be a landing before the next run.



ADA Ramps: Landings

Landings are a requirement at the top and bottom of every ramp for maximal maneuverability. The general recommended size of a landing is 5’ by 5’. Interestingly, there are some states which require 6’ landings so make sure to check your local recommendations!



Handrails are required if the ramp is covering a height more than 6”. The recommended height is 34”-38” for a standard ramp.

ADA Ramps: Handrails

If children are expected to use the ramp as well, then handrails are recommended to have a lower horizontal bar as well at a height of 28”. To avoid a tight space between the horizontal bars which things can get stuck in, it is recommended to have a 9” space between handrail bars.

At the end of the “run” of ramp, it is required that the handrails extend at least 12” into the landings for additional support while entering/exiting the ramp.

Interestingly, there are even guidelines for the diameter of the handrails keeping the hand support aspect in mind! For round handrails, diameter is 1 ¼”-2” and for non-round the cross-section cannot exceed 2 ¼”.


That’s that for What You Need to Know About Ramps: ADA Standards.

I hope that all of the info here was not too technical and overwhelming for you. Of course with any questions feel free to contact us and we will be glad to help you out!

Stay tuned for more parts in our series of posts regarding ramps.

We’ll keep you POSTED!

To safe and happy homes,


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