Ramps really are one of the most useful things for someone in a wheelchair. Since I started using mine, I’ve used all sorts of ramps. I’ve also heard the praises of ramps from people who were on crutches or pushing baby strollers. Throw in the guy delivering three kegs of beer on a hand-truck and all sorts of people appreciate ramps. I thought I’d talk about some of my favorite, most useful, and memorable wheelchair ramps.
Up at my grandma’s cottage, I needed to get up about five steps to a deck that was level with the front door. My uncle took the nails out of the deck railing and I pulled my van next to the deck and deployed my van ramp so it went up instead of down. We rested the end of the ramp on some concrete blocks, then unfolded my portable wheelchair ramp and ramped from the van ramp to the top of the deck!
The Wood Block Ramp
Whenever there’s a step that’s just a little too big to get up, a few wood blocks or a 2×4 makes a huge difference. Stacking them like “mini-steps” is often all I need to get into someone’s house.
The Catapulting Ramp
At my grandma’s house, the landing at the front door is up two steps but it’s too long for my portable ramp to clear without bending. So we break out these two long and wide planks she uses in her garage ceiling to hold the lawn chairs in storage. The only problem is that my portable ramp will bend if someone’s not standing on the middle section to balance the weight of me and my chair. A few times I’ve hit the ramp and the person standing on the ramp has jumped up in the air!
The South African
The hotel I stayed at in East London, South Africa, had a short and steep ramp that required a full-speed attack and a few of the hotel staff to push me over the top! Down was even more fun. I’d recline my chair to match the angle of the ramp and stop myself from flying out as I descended!
The Table Ramp
I once arrived at a Christmas party and the homeowner had a few steps into their house. I didn’t have my own ramps with me and the best thing we could find was a plastic fold-out table they’d just bought. It still had the packing tape on it and when we were done with it, it also had wheelchair tire tracks!
The Automatic Ramp
From a functional standpoint my van ramp gives me more independence than any other ramp I use. It’s not super exciting to me but kids think my car is a Transformer!
The Portable Ramp
I always have my fold-out portable ramps in my car. It has come handy many times, including the time I needed to get from shore onto a pontoon boat. I’ve written about my portable ramps before and they really do come in handy quite often.
The ATV Ramp
In a pinch, a set of ATV ramps can do the trick. I was heading to my aunt and uncle’s house in the middle of winter and their house has a steep set of back steps that my regular ramp was too short to handle. The wide gaps in the ramp made for a bumpy ride but also helped stop me from sliding backwards up the steep part!
The Airplane Ramp
If you count the jetway, the ramps connecting the plane to the gate are amazing. In addition, on some of the smaller planes, they have to use these rickety small ramps to jump the gap from the plane to the exit platform and to me this is the equivalent of crossing a river gorge on a rope walkway!
Ramps are definitely an important accessory for wheelchair users and I’m sure we’ve all had our share of creative ramp experiences. As long as the ramp is sturdy and safe (send someone heavy to test it first!) I feel comfortable with many of the makeshift ramps my friends and family have come up with. Don’t ever use a ramp setup that you’re not comfortable with!