The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. Signed into law in 1990 by George H.W. Bush, it sets standards for access to public spaces and buildings, among many other protections. Within the ADA are guidelines for safe ramps. These guidelines are required for commercial and public properties. While not mandatory for residential properties, each requirement serves a useful function, and National Ramp encourages adherence to these guidelines as much as feasibly possible.

  • There should be a minimum 4×5 flat surface at the door if the ramp extends straight out, or 5×5 flat surface if the ramp is turning. 
    • The purpose of this guideline is to give users and caretakers a safe, level surface to open/shut their doors and turn around before continuing onto the ramp.
    • This level surface may be a porch/deck, and sometimes just a small threshold ramp will be needed to help navigate through the doorway.
  • Ramps should have a 1:12 pitch; so, for every inch of elevation, there should be 12 inches of ramping. This results in a 4.8* slope.
    • This guideline is to ensure the slope of the ramp is not too steep for safe passage. 
    • National Ramp recommends no greater than a 1:8 pitch, and only for users in a power wheelchair or manual wheelchair being pushed up the ramp.
  • Resting platforms of 4’x5’ or 5’x5’ should be included for every ramp run longer than 30’. 
    • This is to give a resting place in case the user/caretaker becomes weary traveling the ramp.
  • Ramps should end on a hard, level surface with a minimum of 5’x5’.
    • This guideline is so the mobility device does not become stuck in muddy or soft ground. Concrete and pavement are acceptable landing surfaces for ramps. Hard-packed gravel can be an acceptable landing surface depending on the individual’s mobility device and their ability to maneuver in that gravel. Grass and dirt are never acceptable landing surfaces. Landing pads are available to provide a safe landing surface where needed.
  • Ramps should be a minimum width of 36” for residential properties, and 48” for commercial or bariatric use.