Accessibility for all groups of people isn't just a goal when you're running a publicly funded library, but an outright requirement. If you're facing the prospect of changing your current access layout to better meet the needs of your community members, stick with a reliable platform lift. Also known as a wheelchair lift, this type of equipment offers seven distinct benefits to the public library.
Of course, the biggest reason to order a full-sized powered lift is to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements set for your public building. All buildings open to the public, unless there's a specific exemption, must feature a ramp or a lift to help people travel through doorways that aren't flush with the ground. Even a doorway set one inch above the ground needs some kind of accessibility device.
Helping A Wide Audience
Don't let the name of a wheelchair lift fool you. While these lifts definitely help anyone in a wheelchair enter and exit the library, the audiences served by these tools are much wider. People who appreciate a powered lift include
- Anyone with a permanent or temporary injury requiring them to use crutches, a cane, or a walker
- People with impaired sight that find stairs difficult to navigate
- Adults pushing two or three babies in a single stroller, which can be difficult to get up ramps
- Visitors with other health problems limiting their mobility, like arthritis or COPD.
Lifts work better for the majority of these people because there's less ground to cover, since ramps can stretch dozens of feet and feature multiple twists and turns.
Accepting Oversized Deliveries
If your library invests in a heavy duty lift that can handle a few hundred pounds, you can use the equipment for getting new shelves and computer desks in faster as well. Wide models make it even easier to get more out of this purpose. Make sure that using the device in this way doesn't void the warranty from the manufacturer or installer, and get a power lift marketed as a multipurpose addition to make sure it's an accepted use.
Reducing Strain And Fatigue
Vertical and inclined lifts are preferred by people in manual wheelchairs because rolling up an extended ramp takes a lot of arm and shoulder strength. It's difficult for newcomers and experienced wheelchair users alike to deal with the pain and soreness after a long day of navigating steep ramps. Since it only takes the push of a button to activate the powered lift, anyone can use it regardless of energy level and physical ability. The platforms also save battery life for users in electric wheelchairs.
In order for the ramp to remain flat enough to safely navigate in a wheelchair or with a walker, you can only rise up a single inch per foot of length. Once you add in the width to accommodate standard sized mobility equipment, you're looking at using three or more square feet per inch of height. If your doorway is five or six steps above the ground, you could end up with a massive ramp snaking back and forth. A lift only takes up the space of a single wheelchair or scooter, allowing you to squeeze one into a corner or along a sidewalk.
Offering Safer Access
Finally, consider the safety level of a long ramp when winter conditions leave it covered in ice. Even a layer of wet fall leaves can cause a serious slip and fall injury that is charged against your library's insurance policy. Make the access safer through all weather conditions by choosing a lift gate, which is easy to sweep clean and features non-slip grips on the platform.
For more information, contact a local mobility aid supplier like Corner Home Medical.