Archive for September, 2009

Handicap Ramps

It is often overlooked that handicap ramps are an essential ingredient in wheelchair mobility and accessibility in places that were not originally built with wheelchair users in mind. So in this article, we’ll take a look at the kinds of handicap ramps that are in use, where they are used and how they are best deployed.

The first type of handicap ramp is the kind you probably see most of and that’s the kind that are built up adjacent to existing stairways on public buildings and access points in public places. Generally, they look reasonably in keeping with the buildings, but on many older buildings they can also look very much like they’ve been tacked on recently.

Some are built of permanent materials such as concrete or brick and these often seem in keeping with the general design of the building’s access points to which they are attached. Others are built of more temporary looking materials such as aluminum, steel or wood and these often look exactly like they were added on as an afterthought.

Either way, these handicap ramps are a necessary addition to allow a more dignified and easy way of entering and exiting a building or public place.

In the home, handicap ramps allow easy access through front and rear doors as well as smoothing over any low steps on the ground floor of a house as well as allowing access to rear gardens if they happen to be on a much lower level than the rear of the house or its patio or veranda.

There are also portable handicap ramps that can be carried with the user, say in their vehicle for use in firstly getting in or out of a handicap van, then providing the means to go up or down high kerbs, or the single steps that you often find in park pathways.

There are many uses for the many different types of accessibility ramps that mean a wheelchair user or someone with limited mobility can get to places they may otherwise be prevented from accessing due to planning that did not take into account the needs of people with disabilities.


Handicapped Shower Stalls

A handicap shower enclosure is an important and necessary part of any handicap bathroom design as it provides the user with a means to take a shower with dignity while in comfort and without the usual dangers that are associated with a regular shower stall. Let’s take a look at some of the major benefits and design features of a good quality handicap shower stall.

The first thing you’ll notice if you’ve never seen a handicap shower enclosure before is that it is much larger than a regular shower. That is because it needs the extra room for a wheelchair user to easily enter, turn and exit whilst in one of the specially adapted shower wheelchairs, which are waterproof and easily cleaned and dried off afterwards. This type of wheelchair shower for people with disabilities will also incorporate heavy duty bathroom grab bars or grab rails for safety and to enable the user to transfer form a wheelchair to a specially adapted handicapped shower chair that is a common feature of handicapped shower stalls.

There are also a useful collection of handicap shower accessories that enhance the overall usability of the unit and we’ll take a look at some of the more used ones.

The handicap shower seat is also highly important and necessary for the comfort and ease of the user taking a shower. It allows then to do so in a sitting down position which is many cases is the only way in which they would be able to take a shower. The design of the handicapped shower seat makes for a robust and tough seat that is able to take extra heavy people if necessary and still be comfortable to sit in whilst performing its task of allowing the user to take a shower in comfort. It is also corrosion resistant and easy to clean. Some come in foldaway designs to maximize the space in the handicap shower enclosure while retaining their strength and robustness.

Well designed handicap showers are fitted with either a gully with a fine grate to cover it along the open side to channel water into a drain or a collapsible water retaining strip or water stopper that keeps the water in the stall and not flooding out all over the bathroom floor. These strips are made from neoprene rubber making them flexible. This enables a wheelchair to pass across them without a noticeable bump, which is necessary for wheelchair users and to augment the usability of the handicap bathroom itself.

You’ll often also find a heavy duty manufactured shower curtain and curtain rail which provide the user with privacy and also helps to keep the water in.

A well designed and constructed handicap shower stall is a joy to use for those with special needs and provides all of the functionality of a regular shower with accessibility for people with disabilities or mobility issues that require them.