If you or a loved one uses a mobility aid every day, access over even a small threshold or step can present a challenge.
I’d like to offer some suggestions on how to correctly size a ramp, and discuss different options that are easy, affordable and available.
If you look at ADA guidelines on how to size a ramp, the regulations are based on what would be a comfortable slope for a person in a manual wheelchair to propel themselves up the ramp without assistance. Under those assumptions the recommendation is 1 inch of rise for every foot of ramp length. That make for very long ramps, indeed! That is the slope that is acceptable for permanent ramps on commercial buildings.
For today’s discussion we’re going to concentrate on Pre-fabricated portable ramps. This is the type you would use to allow access for an individual using a chair or walker going up a curb or a couple of steps. If you are using a scooter, power wheelchair or if you will have the assistance of a caregiver to help you the rules on how to size a ramp are much more flexible.
If someone is pushing from behind, you can easily size a ramp at 2 inches of rise to one foot of ramp length. The calculation looks like this: to get up a 6 inch curb, your ramp would need to be 3 feet long. (measure the height of the step and multiply by .5 to get that slope) That is an easy size for a portable ramp, and perfect to carry along with you in your car for access when there is no curb cut available. That style is called a suitcase ramp.
Thinking about great accessible getaways? Travel season is here, and for those of us who use mobility products, choosing a travel destination isn’t just about where we wish to go, but… alas… how accessible is it?
Ideal destinations for travelers using mobility products have three vital traits: overall accessible architecture, readily-available accessible transportation, and… of course… great attractions. However, finding all three is tricky, so let’s look at a short list that may narrow down the process, with a varied selection of tastes in mind.
Sin City is also Wheel City, ranking arguably as among the most accessible vacation destinations. From never having to wait for an accessible cab – they’re everywhere! – to an entirely accessible architectural infrastructure to the best accessible hotel rooms, Vegas knows mobility. A misnomer is that Las Vegas is for gambling and other indulgent activities. However, the Las Vegas Strip over the past decade has evolved into a bit of a family affair, full of shopping, restaurants, and amusement rides. With themed hotels, stage shows galore, and attractions for all ages, Las Vegas truly is a family destination. Gambler or not, if you’re looking for fun times, you’ll be on a roll in Vegas.
Just over the Washington state border, Vancouver, British Columbia, is among the most beautiful and wheelchair accessible cities you’ll ever visit. Whether you’re looking for scenic coastal beauty or metropolitan flair, Vancouver, B.C., is a stunning city. There’s the Vancouver Aquarium, Classical Chinese Garden, Vancouver Art Gallery, and Science World – great attractions. Then, nature abounds with both accessible coastal and wilderness parks. And, let us not overlook that Vancouver, B.C., has among the world’s finest cuisine, from seafood to virtually every ethnic delight imaginable.
I’m a manual wheelchair user of 30 years (I bought my last rigid ultralight through you). I’ve been diagnosed with shoulder issues and need to reduce my pushing. I don’t need a power chair, but I am looking to get a new ultralight chair and I’m thinking a powered kit for it might be best. What do I need to know about adding power to an ultralight wheelchair before moving forward? Thanks, Lewis
Unfortunately, you’re not alone in your need to take strain off of your shoulders. While ultralight wheelchairs and related components such as wheels are very ergonomic now, they weren’t in the past, and so many long-time wheelers are in your situation. Fortunately, between increased ergonomics and “power assist” systems, you can remain very active in an ultralight manual wheelchair despite your shoulder strain.
When we speak of “power assist,” we’re referring to any motor-based system that’s added to a manual wheelchair to assist with propulsion. There are three technologies in the power-assist category: a power base controlled via joystick, power-assist push wheels, or a power-assist 5th wheel. Let’s look at these technologies available when adding power to an ultralight wheelchair :
Power-Assist Push Wheels
Xtender Power Assist Wheels
Power Assist push wheels
Power-assist push wheels are typically self-contained with a hub motor and battery. They replace your standard wheels. Via sensors, when you give them a push, each wheel’s motor kicks in, giving your every push a boost. The advantage of power-assist push wheels is that they keep your manual wheelchair very stock and familiar in its operation – you’re just getting a boost with each push.
Power-Assist 5th Wheel
Smart Drive MX2 Power Assist 5th Wheel
A power-assist 5th wheel is a small, all-in-one pack that quick-release mounts under your wheelchair. It contains a motor, battery and drive wheel. When you push your standard wheels, it triggers the 5th wheel to drive – your wheelchair then seems to glide on its own. Because the 5th wheel is so compact, it’s arguably the easiest power-assist system to transport.
Plants can add an amazing aesthetic anywhere, so consider small space gardening. Live plants have excellent benefits such as purifying the air we breathe, adding fragrance, and perhaps best of all providing us with food! Maybe you’ve downsized, or don’t get around quite as freely as you used to, but gardening can still be a fun and rewarding pastime.
It would be easy to assume you need large spaces to garden well. Not so! Here are some easy ways to fit the garden you love into the space you have.
The first thing you will need to consider is the space you have. Be creative! Use the space around your mailbox; line your walkway with beautiful, edible greens such as kale or Swiss chard; hang planting boxes from fences, windowsills, and porch railings. No yard? No problem! You can plant on a balcony, patio, and even use the indoors for small space gardening.
You will need to decide what you are hoping to accomplish with your garden. Are you looking for a beautiful, fragrant, pop of color? Flowers such as African Violets, Marigolds, Peace Lillies, and Begonias all have what it takes to grow well indoors or out, and they work in small spaces provided they have enough access to sun.
My new Spinlife Power Wheelchair was just delivered. In getting used to it, do you have any recommendations and tips on how I can maximize power wheelchair performance? I live in Detroit and plan on using it a lot around town. Thanks. -Motoring in the Motor City
Hello Motoring in the Motor City,
Congratulations on your first power chair. There’s no doubt it’s going to get you out and about, giving you the mobility you need and deserve.
I know it may sound a bit basic, but the first tip toward maximizing your power wheelchair performance is to read the owner’s manual. It illustrates all of the features, including vital ones, such as how to operate the hand control (joystick), use the free-wheel levers (for manual pushing in an emergency), adjust aspects like the seat height, footplate, and so on. Some users simply sit in a new power chair and go, but it’s vital to read the owner’s manual, learning all of the functions and features of your power chair.
Now that you’ve read the owner’s manual, and are an expert on your power chair, let’s turn you into a pro….