How to Measure a Wheelchair Ramp

A wheelchair ramp creates more mobility to enter and exit buildings, houses, porches and decks, and vehicles. The most important aspect of a wheelchair ramp is for it to be safe for the occupant of the chair.

Calculate the width and length of a wheelchair ramp.

Ramps that are too short and too steep result in serious injuries if the wheelchair rolls backward or turns while in a reverse motion and falls off the side of the ramp. Some occupants may not be able to get back up from the ground to reach safety, especially if the wheelchair traps them underneath on the ground.

  1. Measure the vertical rise of the wheelchair ramp. Place the tape measure at the top of stairs, decks or vehicles where the wheelchair ramp will rest. Measure the vertical distance straight down to the ground. Record this measurement in inches on paper with a pen.

  2. Divide the measurement in inches by 2 to determine the length of a wheelchair ramp. This number will be the length of the ramp in feet so that the slope of the ramp is at a ratio of 2:12. For every 2 inches of the rise to reach the landing at the top of the ramp from the ground, there will be 12 inches of length.

  3. Divide the vertical rise of the wheelchair ramp by 3 to determine the length of a wheelchair ramp for unoccupied chairs. This method has a larger rise in the slope of the ramp, because there is no weight in the chair that will cause it to push harder on loading and unloading. The slope of the ramp is 3:12, and results in a 3-inch rise per each foot of ramp length. This method is useful in vans that accommodate individuals in a seat when the individual is carried to the chair after it exits the van empty.

  4. Measure the width of the area that the wheelchair ramp will rest on at the top of the stairs, deck, vehicle or landing. Subtract 2 inches from this measurement to allow space for the ramp to fit into the opening.

  5. Tip

    Make sure that the wheelchair ramp has ample room on the ground with no obstructions.


    Consult the owner’s manual of the wheelchair to make certain the amount of incline a power chair or manual wheelchair can safely climb.