Wednesday, February 27, 2013

ADA: Walker (Handicap) Stairs instead of a Wheelchair Ramp

Wheelchair ramps can be expensive to build and there isn't always enough space for a wheelchair ramp sometimes there is an alternative, walker stairs otherwise called handicap stairs.  Walker stairs of course does not solve the problem of accessibility for everyone but for some they are the perfect, less expensive, less intrusive alternative to a wheelchair ramp.




Walker stairs or handicap stairs are ideal for people who utilize walkers.  Walker stairs are usually 3' wide, a little deeper than the walker itself, and the stairs only have a 3 1/2"-4" rise instead of the standard 7 1/2" rise.  All handicap stairs should have handrails on both sides of the stairs, ideally the handrails will extend one foot past the stairs to allow for extra safety when ascending or descending the stairs.


The dimensions required for walker stairs should be based on the client's needs.  I recommend not only measuring the client's walker to determine proper stair depth but also to discuss the handicap stair requirements with the client's occupational therapist or physical therapist.  The occupational therapist or physical therapist can work with you to determine a safe and appropriate rise for the stairs.  If the occupational therapist or physical therapist will be working with your client before they return home and the plan will be for walker stairs they will be able to work with the client on the walker stairs during therapy to insure the client will be able to utilize the stair safely.



The typical rollator walker is usually 24" wide x 22" deep, so a comfortable walker stair depth for a walker with these dimensions would be 26"-29" deep.  A typical standard folding walker is usually 22" wide x 17" deep, a comfortable stair depth would be 25"-28" deep.


Interior Handicap/Walker Stairs

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