Wheelchair accessible ramp designs vary, but there are a few things to look for in a ramp that affect your safety and ease of use. As always, price is a factor. That said, some of these features are, or should be, non-negotiable.
Also called an anti-slip surface or non-skid surface, a non-slip surface can be painted on or applied, like a rubberized coating. The need for a non-slip surface is indisputable, and most wheelchair van ramps are treated in some way to prevent slips and skids.
Wheelchairs come in different widths, and so do accessible van ramps. Make sure the ramp on your chosen van is more than wide enough to accommodate your wheelchair.
Side guards (or lips) on either side of the ramp help prevent your wheelchair from falling over the edge of the ramp during entry or exit.
Wheelchair ramps have weight limits, and they vary, though most ramps can handle several hundred pounds. Always ask. Take both your weight plus the weight of the wheelchair into consideration.
Degree of Incline
A lower incline or slope means an easier climb up the ramp. The ADA recommends a 2:12 slope, which means every 2″ of vertical rise requires one foot of ramp (9.5 degrees of incline).
An onboard ramp can be manually operated or automated to deploy and retract at the push of a button. An automated ramp adds to the price of the conversion; if you choose an automated ramp, make sure it has manual back-up. If, for some reason, the vehicle loses power, you’ll still be able to enter and exit.