For anyone with a disability, retaining independence is the key to enjoying life. Using a portable ramp or portable wheelchair lift helps people with physical limitations stay active and continue to visit the places they love.

Ramps and lifts make it possible to travel, attend all manner of cultural and entertainment events, and stay engaged in social circles that are so important to healthy aging. Understanding the different types of portable ramps and portable wheelchair lifts can assist in making the best selection for particular usage scenarios.

Portable ramp types

A portable ramp can make the world much more accessible for anyone who uses a mobility device such as a wheelchair or motorized scooter. Portable ramps are lightweight and easy to move from place to place.

A threshold ramp typically is used to maneuver easily over curbs, thresholds and small numbers of stairs. Some portable ramps also can be used with cars, trucks and vans to allow passengers with mobility needs to enter and exit a vehicle safely.

Aluminum ramps — the most common type — may include reinforced plastic, along with other materials in certain models. A portable ramp typically can hold between 300 and 400 pounds, but some can bear up to 800 pounds. Additional types of portable ramp include:

  • Multi-fold ramp: unfolds to a length great enough to access raised landings and vehicles.
  • Roll-up ramp: very portable, assists scooters and wheelchairs onto curbs and short steps.
  • Threshold ramp: assists scooters and wheelchairs in easily crossing thresholds.
  • Telescopic track ramp: includes two tracks that lock and extend, providing van access for wheelchairs.
  • Portable suitcase ramp: typically used to provide access to raised landings and porches.

Portable wheelchair lift types

Wheelchair lifts allow people who use mobility devices to access areas that would otherwise be off limits. Vans, stages and other raised areas become available with the assistance of a portable wheelchair lift.

Many types of portable wheelchair lift are available. Some can attach underneath manual wheelchairs and lift them up stairs in either private homes or public buildings. Others lift wheelchairs and motorized scooters into vans and other transport vehicles. Common categories of portable wheelchair lift include wheelchair platform lifts and scooter lifts.

Assessing individual needs

Before purchasing a portable ramp or portable wheelchair lift, it pays to think about individual needs. Factors to consider include:

  • What will the device be lifting: a manual wheelchair or a powered scooter?
  • What height will a portable ramp or portable wheelchair lift need to span?
  • What are the measurements of the space in which the device needs to function?
  • How durable must the device be?
  • What amount of weight must the device handle?
  • What safety features are desired? For instance, should a ramp include non-skid surfaces?

For an individual confined to a wheelchair, a portable ramp or portable wheelchair lift can open up a whole new world. These devices eliminate the everyday difficulties caused by stairs, curbs and other barriers to living a full, meaningful and fully mobile life.