Although wheelchair ramps are still a common accessibility solution, vertical platform lifts (VPL) have become the primary method that many wheelchair users rely upon for entry and exit from their houses, especially in more populated cities and suburbs.
Many times there is not enough room to install a code compliant ramp because of limited space in the yard. A wheelchair ramp requires one foot of ramp for every one inch of rise. A house with seven steps requires a wheelchair ramp that is around 50 feet long, not including any platform required where the ramp makes a turn. A VPL only requires a space around 5’ x 5’. Because of its compact size, it is rapidly becoming the modification of choice for many wheelchair users.
Most yards in the City of Chicago do not have room for a wheelchair ramp, but have plenty of room to install a VPL. The lift is typically installed at the front porch of a house or the back porch area. The lift typically rests on a concrete pad and has a lifting height of up to 14 feet. Enough height for any first floor level and most second floor levels. Often, at the upper level that the lift rises up to, a wood platform is installed over the existing porch. The surface of that wood platform is flush with the interior floor height so that a wheelchair user does not have to navigate that final step into the house or struggle up a wedge ramp at the door.
Many times the lift is installed in a garage. The advantage of installing a lift in a garage is primarily that the user is protected from adverse weather when using the lift. No more struggling in or out of a car in the snow or rain. Because the lift takes up a relatively small space, there is still room to park a car or keep garbage can near. A ramp might take up enough room so that a car can no longer park in that space. Vertical platform lifts are very versatile pieces of equipment that are becoming more and more common as they allow a person to enter his or her home easily and with dignity. The size of lift allows more natural space to a yard and is easy to remove in the event a person moves or it is no longer needed.