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Ramp Gradients & Step Sizes

    • Ramps allow the Wheelchair User to go from one level to another.
    • If the ramp is too steep upwards it causes problems with Strength, Stamina and Stability for the Solo Wheelchair User.
    • If the ramp faces downwards, there can be a tendency to over-run and lose control.
    • Ramps are also known as Gradients, Inclines or Slopes
    • The degree of steepness is described as either a ratio or percentage - e.g. 1 in 20 or 1:20 or 5%.  This means that you rise (or fall) 1cm for every 20cm travelled along.
    • As the gradient gets steeper the ratio falls (or the percentage rises) eg 1:10 or 10%.
    • Most people can manage a gradient of 1 in 20.  As it becomes steeper, more strength is required.  If the ramp is quite long, greater stamina is also required, or one must pause for a short break. Level stages should be available for this.
    • Of more serious consequence is the fact that the stability of the Wheelchair reduces as the gradient up increases.  This can lead to a tendency for the wheelchair to topple backwards, if one is not careful.
    • Government guidelines indicate preferable gradients, and maximum safe limits - but the weight and height of the User can also significantly affect the stability of the Wheelchair.
    • Always approach unfamiliar gradients very slowly, and be prepared to stop and go back (very slowly) if a tendency to topple backwards is detected.

     Small Steps  

    • For the purposes of these Access Guides, a Step is considered to be a Small Step if it is typically no more than a couple of inches (5cm) high

    • A solo Wheelchair user would not be able to manage this without dismounting, but many are able to do this.
    • If a Carer or Wheelchair Assistant is accompanying, they could easily tilt the wheelchair back a little to aid entry.

    • There are many Shops and other Premises in Burgess Hill that have Level Access at one side of the door, but being on a hill, the ground falls away across the width of the door. Often a fillet of cement or tarmac is laid as a mini-ramp to ease entry, but these are often too steep for wheelchairs. Once again though, a Carer can help by tilting the wheelchair back slightly – these instances are also considered to be Small Steps.


    • Often, a Disabled Person can walk with the aid of a stick or crutches.
    • However whilst they could perhaps manage one or two steps, any greater number may present difficulties.

    • For this reason, the number of steps is shown in the Access Guides. 




    • Handrails are also very important to some people, so their presence is also shown


    Building Regulations

    • The Building Regulations (Approved Document Part M) relate to Disabled Access of Buildings
    • A summary relating to Ramps and Steps will appear here shortly





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