ADA Building Codes for Wheelchair Ramps


The following will give you more information on the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) federal building codes for modular wheelchair ramps and the like. Your local building code however may have its own variations so please always check your local building codes as well before you plan to build a wheelchair ramp.

Before you plan to build a wheelchair ramp, either one of our modular wheelchair ramps systems or another system, it is a good idea to become familiar with the ADA codes. We have put together this information in an effort to help you in learn more about the ADA codes and how to comply with them. We also have additional information on this web site that you may find helpful like Aluminum Modular Ramps vs. Wooden Ramps.

ADA OVERVIEW

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was set forth in 1990. The ADA recognizes and protects the civil rights of individuals with disabilities, enabling them to share in and contribute to the vitality of American life. The ADA means access to:

  • Jobs
  • Public accommodations
  • Government services
  • Public transportation
  • Telecommunications

ADA's regulations are issued and enforced by both the Department of Justice and the Department of Transportation. The Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) of the U.S. Architectural and Transportation Compliance Board (ATBCB) require public facilities and grounds to comply with design, construction, and installation standards. Although not binding to personal residences, these standards should be taken into consideration when purchasing a modular ramp.

WHERE DO MODULAR RAMPS FIT IN?

As it relates to ramps, the ADAAG specifies how steep a ramp (incline) must be, ramp width, handrail design, etc. The EZ-Access Modular Ramp System meets all ADAAG requirements. Although a ramp system installed at a private residence typically is not obligated to meet ADAAG requirements, by following these guidelines the end user is assured acceptable levels of convenience, comfort, and safety:

2010 ADA Standards will be mandatory March 15, 2012. (1991 ADA Standards are usable until then.)

405 RAMPS

405.1 General. Ramps on accessible routes shall comply with 405. EXCEPTION: In assembly areas, aisle ramps adjacent to seating and not serving elements required to be on an accessible route shall not be required to comply with 405.

405.2 Slope. Ramp runs shall have a running slope not steeper than 1:12. EXCEPTION: In existing sites, buildings, and facilities, ramps shall be permitted to have running slopes steeper than 1:12 complying with Table 405.2 where such slopes are necessary due to space limitations. Advisory 405.2 Slope. To accommodate the widest range of users, provide ramps with the least possible running slope and, wherever possible, accompany ramps with stairs for use by those individuals for whom distance presents a greater barrier than steps, e.g., people with heart disease or limited stamina.

Table 405.2 Maximum Ramp Slope and Rise for Existing Sites, Buildings, and Facilities
Slope 1. Maximum Rise
Steeper than 1:10 but not steeper than 1:8 3 inches (75 mm)
Steeper than 1:12 but not steeper than 1:10 6 inches (150 mm)
1. A slope steeper than 1:8 is prohibited.

405.3 Cross Slope. Cross slope of ramp runs shall not be steeper than 1:48. Advisory 405.3 Cross Slope. Cross slope is the slope of the surface perpendicular to the direction of travel. Cross slope is measured the same way as slope is measured (i.e., the rise over the run).

405.4 Floor or Ground Surfaces. Floor or ground surfaces of ramp runs shall comply with 302. Changes in level other than the running slope and cross slope are not permitted on ramp runs.

405.5 Clear Width. The clear width of a ramp run and, where handrails are provided, the clear width between handrails shall be 36 inches (915 mm) minimum. EXCEPTION: Within employee work areas, the required clear width of ramps that are a part of common use circulation paths shall be permitted to be decreased by work area equipment provided that the decrease is essential to the function of the work being performed.

405.6 Rise. The rise for any ramp run shall be 30 inches (760 mm) maximum.

405.7 Landings. Ramps shall have landings at the top and the bottom of each ramp run. Landings shall comply with 405.7 Advisory 405.7 Landings. Ramps that do not have level landings at changes in direction can create a compound slope that will not meet the requirements of this document. Circular or curved ramps continually change direction. Curvilinear ramps with small radii also can create compound cross slopes and cannot, by their nature, meet the requirements for accessible routes. A level landing is needed at the accessible door to permit maneuvering and simultaneously door operation.

  • 405.7.1 Slope. Landings shall comply with 302. Changes in level are not permitted. EXCEPTION: Slopes not steeper than 1:48 shall be permitted.
  • 405.7.2 Width. The landing clear width shall be at least as wide as the widest ramp run leading to the landing.
  • 405.7.3 Length. The landing clear length shall be 60 inches (1525 mm) long minimum.
  • 405.7.4 Change in Direction. Ramps that change direction between runs at landings shall have a clear landing 60 inches (1525 mm) minimum by 60 inches (1525 mm) minimum.
  • 405.7.5 Doorways. Where doorways are located adjacent to a ramp landing, maneuvering clearances required by 404.2.4 and 404.3.2 shall be permitted to overlap the required landing area.
Ramp landings diagram

405.8 Handrails. Ramp runs with a rise greater than 6 inches (150 mm) shall have handrails complying with 505. EXCEPTION: Within employee work areas, handrails shall not be required where ramps that are part of common use circulation paths are designed to permit the installation of handrails complying with 505. Ramps not subject to the exception to 405.5 shall be designed to maintain a 36 inch (915 mm) minimum clear width when handrails are installed.

405.9 Edge Protection. Edge protection complying with 405.9.1 or 405.9.2 shall be provided on each side of ramp runs and at each side of ramp landings. EXCEPTIONS: 1. Edge protection shall not be required on ramps that are not required to have handrails and have sides complying with 406.3. 2. Edge protection shall not be required on the sides of ramp landings serving an adjoining ramp run or stairway. 3. Edge protection shall not be required on the sides of ramp landings having a vertical drop-off of 1/2 inch (13 mm) maximum within 10 inches (255 mm) horizontally of the minimum landing area specified in 405.7.

  • 405.9.1 Extended Floor or Ground Surface. The floor or ground surface of the ramp run or landing shall extend 12 inches (305 mm) minimum beyond the inside face of a handrail complying with 505. Advisory 405.9.1 Extended Floor or Ground Surface. The extended surface prevents wheelchair casters and crutch tips from slipping off the ramp surface.
  • 405.9.2 Curb or Barrier. A curb or barrier shall be provided that prevents the passage of a 4 inch (100 mm) diameter sphere, where any portion of the sphere is within 4 inches (100 mm) of the finish floor or ground surface.
  • 405.10 Wet Conditions. Landings subject to wet conditions shall be designed to prevent the accumulation of water.
Extended floor or ground surface edge protection Curb or barrier edge protection

505 HANDRAILS

505.1 General. Handrails provided along walking surfaces complying with 403, required at ramps complying with 405, and required at stairs complying with 504 shall comply with 505. Advisory 505.1 General. Handrails are required on ramp runs with a rise greater than 6 inches (150 mm) (see 405.8) and on certain stairways (see 504). Handrails are not required on walking surfaces with running slopes less than 1:20. However, handrails are required to comply with 505 when they are provided on walking surfaces with running slopes less than 1:20 (see 403.6). Sections 505.2, 505.3, and 505.10 do not apply to handrails provided on walking surfaces with running slopes less than 1:20 as these sections only reference requirements for ramps and stairs.

505.2 Where Required. Handrails shall be provided on both sides of stairs and ramps. EXCEPTION: In assembly areas, handrails shall not be required on both sides of aisle ramps where a handrail is provided at either side or within the aisle width.

505.3 Continuity. Handrails shall be continuous within the full length of each stair flight or ramp run. Inside handrails on switchback or dogleg stairs and ramps shall be continuous between flights or runs. EXCEPTION: In assembly areas, handrails on ramps shall not be required to be continuous in aisles serving seating.

505.4 Height. Top of gripping surfaces of handrails shall be 34 inches (865 mm) minimum and 38 inches (965 mm) maximum vertically above walking surfaces, stair nosings, and ramp surfaces. Handrails shall be at a consistent height above walking surfaces, stair nosings, and ramp surfaces. Advisory 505.4 Height. The requirements for stair and ramp handrails in this document are for adults. When children are the principal users in a building or facility (e.g., elementary schools), a second set of handrails at an appropriate height can assist them and aid in preventing accidents. A maximum height of 28 inches (710 mm) measured to the top of the gripping surface from the ramp surface or stair nosing is recommended for handrails designed for children. Sufficient vertical clearance between upper and lower handrails, 9 inches (230 mm) minimum, should be provided to help prevent entrapment.

Handrail height

505.5 Clearance. Clearance between handrail gripping surfaces and adjacent surfaces shall be 1 1/2 inches (38 mm) minimum.

Handrail clearance

505.6 Gripping Surface. Handrail gripping surfaces shall be continuous along their length and shall not be obstructed along their tops or sides. The bottoms of handrail gripping surfaces shall not be obstructed for more than 20 percent of their length. Where provided, horizontal projections shall occur 1 1/2 inches (38 mm) minimum below the bottom of the handrail gripping surface. EXCEPTIONS: 1. Where handrails are provided along walking surfaces with slopes not steeper than 1:20, the bottoms of handrail gripping surfaces shall be permitted to be obstructed along their entire length where they are integral to crash rails or bumper guards. 2. The distance between horizontal projections and the bottom of the gripping surface shall be permitted to be reduced by 1/8 inch (3.2 mm) for each 1/2 inch (13 mm) of additional handrail perimeter dimension that exceeds 4 inches (100 mm). Advisory 505.6 Gripping Surface. People with disabilities, older people, and others benefit from continuous gripping surfaces that permit users to reach the fingers outward or downward to grasp the handrail, particularly as the user senses a loss of equilibrium or begins to fall.

Horizontal projections below gripping surface

505.7 Cross Section. Handrail gripping surfaces shall have a cross section complying with 505.7.1 or 505.7.2.

  • 505.7.1 Circular Cross Section. Handrail gripping surfaces with a circular cross section shall have an outside diameter of 1 1/4 inches (32 mm) minimum and 2 inches (51 mm) maximum.
  • 505.7.2 Non-Circular Cross Sections. Handrail gripping surfaces with a non-circular cross section shall have a perimeter dimension of 4 inches (100 mm) minimum and 6 1/4 inches (160 mm) maximum, and a cross-section dimension of 2 1/4 inches (57 mm) maximum.
Handrail non-circular cross section

505.8 Surfaces. Handrail gripping surfaces and any surfaces adjacent to them shall be free of sharp or abrasive elements and shall have rounded edges.

505.9 Fittings. Handrails shall not rotate within their fittings.

505.10 Handrail Extensions. Handrail gripping surfaces shall extend beyond and in the same direction of stair flights and ramp runs in accordance with 505.10. EXCEPTIONS: 1. Extensions shall not be required for continuous handrails at the inside turn of switchback or dogleg stairs and ramps. 2. In assembly areas, extensions shall not be required for ramp handrails in aisles serving seating where the handrails are discontinuous to provide access to seating and to permit crossovers within aisles. 3. In alterations, full extensions of handrails shall not be required where such extensions would be hazardous due to plan configuration.

  • 505.10.1 Top and Bottom Extension at Ramps. Ramp handrails shall extend horizontally above the landing for 12 inches (305 mm) minimum beyond the top and bottom of ramp runs. Extensions shall return to a wall, guard, or the landing surface, or shall be continuous to the handrail of an adjacent ramp run.
  • 505.10.2 Top Extension at Stairs. At the top of a stair flight, handrails shall extend horizontally above the landing for 12 inches (305 mm) minimum beginning directly above the first riser nosing. Extensions shall return to a wall, guard, or the landing surface, or shall be continuous to the handrail of an adjacent stair flight.
  • 505.10.3 Bottom Extension at Stairs. At the bottom of a stair flight, handrails shall extend at the slope of the stair flight for a horizontal distance at least equal to one tread depth beyond the last riser nosing. Extension shall return to a wall, guard, or the landing surface, or shall be continuous to the handrail of an adjacent stair flight.

Top and bottom handrail extension at ramps Top handrail extension at stairs Bottom handrail extension at stairs

404 DOORS, DOORWAYS, AND GATES

404.2.4 Maneuvering Clearances. Minimum maneuvering clearances at doors and gates shall comply with 404.2.4. Maneuvering clearances shall extend the full width of the doorway and the required latch side or hinge side clearance. EXCEPTION: Entry doors to hospital patient rooms shall not be required to provide the clearance beyond the latch side of the door.

  • 404.2.4.1 Swinging Doors and Gates. Swinging doors and gates shall have maneuvering clearances complying with Table 404.2.4.1.
    Table 404.2.4.1 Maneuvering Clearances at Manual Swinging Doors and Gates
    Type of Use Minimum Maneuvering Clearance
    Approach Direction Door or Gate Side Perpendicular to Doorway Parallel to Doorway (beyond latch side unless noted)
    From front Pull 60 inches (1525 mm) 18 inches (455 mm)
    From front Push 48 inches (1220 mm) 0 inches (0 mm) 1
    From hinge side Pull 60 inches (1525 mm) 36 inches (915 mm)
    From hinge side Pull 54 inches (1370 mm) 42 inches (1065 mm)
    From hinge side Push 42 inches (1065 mm) 2 22 inches (560 mm) 3
    From latch side Pull 48 inches (1220 mm) 4 24 inches (610 mm)
    From latch side Push 42 inches (1065 mm) 4 24 inches (610 mm)
    1. Add 12 inches (305 mm) if closer and latch are provided.
    2. Add 6 inches (150 mm) if closer and latch are provided.
    3. Beyond hinge side.
    4. Add 6 inches (150 mm) if closer is provided.

    Figure 404.2.4.2 Maneuvering Clearances at Doorways without Doors or Gates, Manual Sliding Doors, and Manual Folding Doors:
    Maneuvering Clearances at Doorways without Doors or Gates, Manual Sliding Doors, and Manual Folding Doors Maneuvering Clearances at Doorways without Doors or Gates, Manual Sliding Doors, and Manual Folding Doors
  • 404.2.4.2 Doorways without Doors or Gates, Sliding Doors, and Folding Doors. Doorways less than 36 inches (915 mm) wide without doors or gates, sliding doors, or folding doors shall have maneuvering clearances complying with Table 404.2.4.2.
    Table 404.2.4.2 Maneuvering Clearances at Doorways without Doors or Gates, Manual Sliding Doors, and Manual Folding Doors
    Minimum Maneuvering Clearance
    Approach Direction Perpendicular to Doorway Parallel to Doorway (beyond stop/latch side unless noted)
    From Front 48 inches (1220 mm) 0 inches (0 mm)
    From side 1 42 inches (1065 mm) 0 inches (0 mm)
    From pocket/hinge side 42 inches (1065 mm) 22 inches (560 mm) 2
    From stop/latch side 42 inches (1065 mm) 24 inches (610 mm)
    1. Doorway with no door only.
    2. Beyond pocket/hinge side.

    Maneuvering Clearances at Doorways without Doors, Sliding Doors, Gates, and Folding Doors
  • 404.2.4.3 Recessed Doors and Gates. Maneuvering clearances for forward approach shall be provided when any obstruction within 18 inches (455 mm) of the latch side of a doorway projects more than 8 inches (205 mm) beyond the face of the door, measured perpendicular to the face of the door or gate. Advisory 404.2.4.3 Recessed Doors and Gates. A door can be recessed due to wall thickness or because of the placement of casework and other fixed elements adjacent to the doorway. This provision must be applied wherever doors are recessed.
    Maneuvering Clearances at Recessed Doors and Gates
  • 404.2.4.4 Floor or Ground Surface. Floor or ground surface within required maneuvering clearances shall comply with 302. Changes in level are not permitted. EXCEPTIONS: 1. Slopes not steeper than 1:48 shall be permitted. 2. Changes in level at thresholds complying with 404.2.5 shall be permitted.

Click on the links below for additional information

More information on ADA codes and requirements


Click here to return to the Knowledge Base