5 Types of Wheelchair Ramps for Every Need

For individuals who rely on wheelchairs for mobility, navigating the world can present challenges. Steps, curbs, and even slight inclines can become significant barriers. Thankfully, wheelchair ramps offer solutions, promoting independence, safety, and participation in daily activities. But with various types of ramps available, choosing the right one can be overwhelming. This article explores five key types of wheelchair ramps categorized by their usage, empowering you to select the perfect solution for specific needs.

1. Permanent Ramps: Pillars of Accessibility

  • Ideal for: Permanent access needs in homes, public buildings, and commercial spaces.
  • Benefits:
    • Durability: Constructed from sturdy materials like concrete, aluminum, or steel, permanent ramps offer long-lasting reliability.
    • Safety: Permanent ramps are designed to comply with strict safety regulations, ensuring a secure incline and handrails for added support.
    • Aesthetics: Permanent ramps can be aesthetically integrated into building designs, minimizing visual obtrusiveness.
  • Considerations: Permanent ramps require professional installation and may involve obtaining permits depending on local regulations.

Example: Imagine a public library that installs a permanent wheelchair ramp at its entrance, allowing individuals with disabilities to access the building independently and enjoy the library’s resources. Companies like DnA Ramps specialize in creating high-quality permanent ramps for various applications.

2. Modular Ramps: Building Accessibility One Piece at a Time

  • Ideal for: Adapting to uneven terrain, overcoming changes in elevation, or creating long ramps in stages.
  • Benefits:
    • Customization: Modular ramps come in interlocking sections, allowing for adjustments in length, incline, and configuration to fit specific needs.
    • Scalability: As requirements change, additional modules can be added to the existing ramp for future needs.
    • Relocation: Modular ramps can be disassembled and reassembled in different locations, offering greater flexibility.
  • Considerations: Modular ramps require careful planning and assembly to ensure a safe and functional incline.

Example: A homeowner with a backyard patio with uneven terrain can use modular ramps to create a gradual incline, providing safe access to enjoy the outdoors.

3. Portable Ramps: Accessibility on the Go

  • Ideal for: Temporary needs like overcoming curbs during outings, accessing vehicles, or providing temporary access during renovations.
  • Benefits:
    • Portability: Lightweight and foldable, portable ramps are easy to transport and store, making them ideal for on-the-go accessibility.
    • Versatility: Portable ramps come in various sizes and weight capacities, catering to different needs and wheelchairs.
    • Convenience: They offer quick and easy solutions for overcoming temporary obstacles.
  • Considerations: Portable ramps typically have weight limitations and may not be suitable for long distances or steep inclines.

Example: A person visiting a friend who lives in an apartment building with a few steps at the entrance can use a portable ramp to easily access the apartment for a social visit.

4. Threshold Ramps: Bridging the Small Gaps

  • Ideal for: Overcoming small obstacles like doorways, raised landings, or uneven thresholds.
  • Benefits:
    • Low-Profile Design: Threshold ramps provide a smooth transition with minimal incline, making them ideal for doorways and small height differences.
    • Easy Installation: Many threshold ramps are lightweight and require minimal or no installation, making them user-friendly.
    • Wide Applicability: They offer accessibility solutions in homes, businesses, and public spaces with doorways or raised landings.
  • Considerations: Threshold ramps may not be suitable for overcoming significant height differences.

Example: A home with a slightly raised doorway can install a threshold ramp to ensure a smooth and safe transition for wheelchair users.

5. Van-Installed Ramps: Seamless Vehicle Access

  • Ideal for: Individuals who rely on wheelchairs for mobility and require a convenient way to enter and exit their vans.
  • Benefits:
    • Vehicle Integration: Van-installed ramps seamlessly fold out from the vehicle, creating a safe and accessible entrance for wheelchair users.
    • Automatic Options: Many van-installed ramps offer automatic deployment for enhanced convenience.
    • Safety Features: These ramps are equipped with safety features like handrails and non-slip surfaces for secure entry and exit.
  • Considerations: Van-installed ramps require professional installation and may involve modifications to the vehicle.

Example: A person who relies on a wheelchair for mobility can choose a van equipped with a built-in ramp, enabling them to travel independently and participate in various activities.

Selecting the ideal wheelchair ramp requires careful consideration of several factors:

User Needs:

  • Mobility Level: Evaluate the user’s ability to maneuver the wheelchair independently or with assistance. This will influence the ramp’s incline and the need for handrails.
  • Wheelchair Size and Weight: Measure the wheelchair’s dimensions and weight to ensure the chosen ramp can accommodate them safely.
  • Frequency of Use: Consider how often the ramp will be used. Permanent ramps are ideal for frequent use, while portable ramps offer convenient temporary solutions.


  • Available Space: Measure the available space for the ramp and ensure it provides a safe and comfortable incline. Local building codes might dictate maximum incline angles.
  • Indoor or Outdoor Use: For outdoor ramps, choose weather-resistant materials with non-slip surfaces to prevent accidents.
  • Existing Structures: Consider how the ramp will integrate with existing doorways, landings, or vehicles.

Additional Considerations:

  • Budget: Wheelchair ramps vary in price depending on material, size, and features.
  • Ease of Use: Consider how easy it is to assemble, disassemble, and store the ramp, especially for portable options.
  • Aesthetics: For permanent ramps, choose a design that complements the surrounding architecture.

Consulting with Professionals:

For complex situations or permanent ramp installations, consulting with a certified occupational therapist, architect, or contractor specializing in accessibility solutions is highly recommended. They can assess the user’s needs, recommend the most suitable ramp type, and ensure compliance with relevant building codes and safety regulations.


Wheelchair ramps are more than just metal structures; they are gateways to independence, safety, and social inclusion. By understanding the different types of wheelchair ramps and carefully considering user needs and environmental factors, you can select the perfect solution that empowers individuals to navigate their world with confidence and freedom.

Beyond Ramps: Building an Inclusive Future

The use of wheelchair ramps is a crucial step towards a more inclusive society. Here are some additional ways to promote accessibility:

  • Awareness Campaigns: Educating the public about the importance of accessibility and the benefits of wheelchair ramps fosters a more inclusive environment.
  • Universal Design Principles: Incorporating universal design principles in building new structures ensures accessibility for everyone, regardless of ability.
  • Investment in Accessibility Infrastructure: Government and private entities can invest in creating accessible public spaces with ramps, designated parking spots, and accessible restrooms.

By embracing accessibility solutions like wheelchair ramps and fostering a culture of inclusion, we can create a world where everyone can participate fully and live their lives to the fullest potential. Let’s continue to break down barriers and build a future where mobility isn’t a limitation, but a freedom.

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