Buildings and Facilities - Provision for Wheelchairs
Persons having difficulty in walking, those suffering from severe illness or bodily injury, and certain physically disabled persons have no other option but to use wheelchairs.
The typical type of wheelchair is made up of a seat with a backrest and a footrest, along with two small front caster wheels and two larger rear wheels. Even though there are standard versions of wheelchairs, they are usually customized to suit the need of the patient or the disabled person.
The seat size, seat-to-floor height, controls, and certain other items are normally tailor-made for the individual patient to provide maximum comfort. Several optional accessories are also available, like safety belts, adjustable backrests and anti-tip bars. Mounts for crutches, oxygen cylinders, drink holders, etc. are also provided.
Using the so-called omniwheel or the mecanum wheel facilitates multidirectional movement. However, it is provided only when it is absolutely necessary, since control is not as easy as the standard types of wheelchairs.
The types of wheelchairs are self-propelled, attendant-propelled, and powered. Depending on the condition of the patient or the disabled person, one of these is selected so as to give maximum comfort for the user.
Attendant propelled wheelchairs come with back handles for easy pushing. A 4 or 5-ampere rechargeable battery runs powered types. Both dry type and wet type batteries are available, though the dry type is the most preferred one.
Pediatric wheelchairs are meant for the use of pregnant women. Wheelchairs for disabled sports persons are special types, incorporating features required for participation in sports.
The American with Disabilities Act of 1990 stipulates certain mandatory provisions in building construction for ease of operation by patients or disabled persons using wheelchairs. It is a statutory requirement in the United States that all new construction for public use have to be built to ADA norms.
Construction of these buildings should conform to specifications of wheelchair accessible construction. Special wheelchair ramps and elevators are added in buildings so that persons with walking disabilities would not face any undue hardship.
Powered doors, fixtures like sinks with lower heights, as well as large-spaced toilets with grab bars for easy maneuvering are other requirements that are generally provided for in wheelchair accessible construction of buildings.
Hospitals that have limited floors are constructed with wheelchair ramps for all the floors. However, in large multistory hospitals and buildings, the wheelchair ramp is provided only in the ground floor or the first 2 to 3 floors.
However, care is taken to ensure that the person using the wheelchair has easy access to lifts, so that they could go to any floor without difficulty. The design of the wheelchair ramp has to be done accurately to avoid difficulty while climbing up and/or skidding while coming down the ramp.
Portable wheelchair ramps are provided mostly in old buildings, where originally no provision was made for persons using wheelchairs. Public places like bus stations and train stations also provide portable wheelchair ramps chiefly to make buses and trains easy for persons in wheelchairs.
Buses with low boarding platforms are also in use for such disabled persons. Airports too invariably provide such portable wheelchair ramps, when needed.
Fishing is one of the most favorite pastimes of Americans. Retired persons and persons recovering from illness simply love fishing to pass their time outdoors. Hence, fishing spots normally provide wheelchair accessible fishing facilities.
Fishing is the best alternative for persons who can not practice active exercises. This outdoor pastime invigorates the body and also lifts the spirit of the person. Hence, disabled persons, retired people and those recuperating from illness keenly seek wheelchair accessible fishing facilities.
Normal lifts that accommodate six to eight persons would be too small for easy maneuvering of wheelchairs. Public places like government buildings, hospitals, courts, bus & train stations, airports, etc. are frequented by persons using wheelchairs.
Hence, such places install larger lifts that facilitate easy wheelchair operations. Such special wheelchair lifts are mandatory for newly constructed buildings to enable them to conform to ADA norms.