A wheelchair lift, also known as a platform lift, or vertical platform lift is a fully powered device designed to raise a wheelchair and its occupant in order to overcome a step or similar vertical barrier.
Wheelchair lifts have been one of the most significant advances in disabled mobility since the wheelchair itself was invented. They play a supporting role. Certain kinds extend the range handicapped people can move about directly, by transporting them across the stairs that would otherwise hinder them, or be impossible to navigate.
To safely and reliably lift both a person and the wheelchair he or she sits in, the lift must be quite powerful. Generally, these lifts consist of a platform that can be wheeled onto and a motor that raises the platform up or down to one or more different levels.
Before the invention of wheelchair lifts, buildings could only provide handicapped access through ramp systems. In some cases, ramps work perfectly well, and they are widely used to this day. Sometimes, however, a ramp is impractical for one reason or another, and in these cases, the lifts are employed instead. The most common reason for using a lift instead of a ramp is architectural. Sometimes there isn’t room to build a large ramp anywhere conveniently. Wheelchair lifts take up far less room than ramps, because they don’t entail any horizontal movement. In most cases, they move in a direct, vertical direction, just like an elevator. Ramps are also often impractical where stairs are prolonged or steep, because a gradual ramp would need to be dangerously steep or inconveniently large.
When wheelchair lifts were first implemented, they were often found in the private homes of those who were handicapped or who wished to accommodate handicapped guests. Houses rarely have room for ramps, especially if they were designed without this accommodation in mind. Since the staircases in houses rarely see heavy traffic, wheelchair lifts in private residences are often built directly over the stairs. In this case, they follow the path of the stairs, which means moving horizontally as well as vertically. The advantage of this system is that it saves space. The disadvantage is that when wheelchair lifts of this sort are in operation, it usually keeps others from using the staircase.
These lifts are important, not just for handicapped Americans, but for all Americans. The handicapped are better able to make their contributions to society when they have uninhibited access to all areas. In addition, providing equal access with ramps and wheelchair lifts supports the values that the United States was founded upon.
Wheelchair lifts can be installed in homes or businesses and are often added to both private and public vehicles in order to meet accessibility requirements laid out by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). These mobility devices are often installed in homes as an alternative to a stair lift, which only transport a passenger and not their wheelchair or mobility scooter.
Vertical Platform Lifts provide a means for overcoming architectural barriers, specifically elevation changes, for those who are mobility impaired. The “crate” portion of the device is comprised of a bottom platform, side and back walls for enclosure, a locking front gate, and folding ramp for platform access. Standard platform size is 36”x48”, though larger and custom sizes can be purchased. The crate mounts to the “tower”, which houses the lifting mechanism and electronic control systems for the device. Lift heights vary among manufacturers, ranging from 4 feet to 14 feet.
The majority of designs are battery powered and operate using a motor and belt drive system. There are also options for hydraulic powered systems or lead screw driven motion. User operation is kept very simple, with buttons for up, down, and emergency stop. As an additional safety feature, some lifts require a key insertion for operation.
- Emergency stop button
- Safety sensors on bottom stop descent if obstacles encountered
- Multiple height stops
- Key lock for controls
- Weatherproof constant pressure controls
- Weather protection canopy (optional)
- Electrically monitored and locking landing gates & doors
- Emergency lowering capabilities
Vertical Platform Lifts can be beneficial to individuals in wheelchairs, scooters, or anyone else who has difficulty traversing stairs or ramps. The dimensions and weight capacity of most lifts accommodate many standard size manual and power wheelchairs.
These lift devices are available for home or commercial use. At-home versions can be installed for access to house entrances, decks/porches, and upper levels of the home. They are generally more compact in size to fit in the home with minimal obstruction.
Commercial Vertical Platform Lifts are often seen in schools, churches, and business offices. They can be very helpful in situations where a couple of stairs may pose a problem. For example, providing access to a stage in an auditorium. Potable options are also available for transport of the lift from one area to another. Contact us today at (800)201-1212 for more information.
The weight capacity of many Vertical Platform Lifts ranges from 600-750 lbs.
Why install a platform lift in a public building?
To avoid legal actions against service providers and employers who have not made the necessary adjustments to make their premises accessible to disabled people. Fines of several hundreds to thousands of dollars can be imposed should a person or company be found to be in breach of the Americans with Disabilities Act. So when your customer considers this along with the negative press which can be generated by ignoring this issue, compliance should be pretty much at the top of the “to do” list of all service providers, architects and landlords.
Public access for disabled people is an essential part of every public building.. Platform lifts are the most common solution to overcoming barriers to wheelchair users, available as either a vertical rise platform lift or, where space is limited for this application, as an inclined rail platform lift which follows the contours of the staircase and folds neatly away when not in use. Even “portable” vertical rise units are available for situations where regular, permanent installations are not practical, or simply not always required. Costs are only a fraction of those associated with conventional elevators, and they can be installed quickly and with a minimum of building work or disruption . The majority of platform lifts are suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications.