For individuals who rely on wheelchair to get around, the stairs found in many homes can present a large obstacle. There are a number of lifting system that can be installed in a home to make it more accessible, such as elevators stair lifts, but not all devices can be used with a wheelchair.
For example, stair lifts are often used to provide access to areas that have staircases, but most stair lifts cannot carry an individual in a wheelchair. Some people choose to transfer into and out of their wheelchair, but this can be impractical, especially for the front steps.
Elevators, despite being much more accessible to a wheelchair user, can be very expensive and much more difficult to install, possibly requiring special permits. This is especially true of those who need only to be able to access the front steps of their home, which is why many opt to use a vertical platform lift instead.
Vertical platform lifts are a type of medical lifting aid. They work in a manner similar to elevators and lift an individual, wheelchair and all, vertically into the air.
The main difference between a vertical platform lift and an elevator, is that you do not need to build a shaft for a vertical platform lift. Instead, the vertical platform lift is almost like a self contained elevator, which only needs to be positioned next to the front landing.
Some vertical platform lifts are capable of lifting up to 12 feet in the air. However, most have a standard lifting height of around 4 feet, although depending on model, some can lift up to 6 feet without needing an upgrade.
The weight capacity of a vertical platform lift can varies by model, although most models can be upgraded to support weight. Most vertical platform lifts at least support five hundred pounds.
Vertical platform lifts are also called wheelchair lifts and are usually designed so they can be used indoors and outdoors. Even though they are designed to not be affected by things like water or sleet, they should still be protected from the elements when possible.
It is a good idea to trim any branches that hang over the lift. It is also a good idea to install gutters or even an overhang over the lift, if possible. The lifting surface is usually designed to prevent falls, but it can still get slippery if it is wet. Also if the ground around the lift becomes muddy, then you risk bringing mud into the house or even getting stuck. Generally it is a good idea to provide a solid surface leading up to the lift.
For places like schools or churches, it may be necessary to allow access to multiple areas or the wheelchair lift might be needed infrequently. If this is the case, a portable wheelchair lift is often a good choice.
Portable wheelchair lifts usually have a lower lifting height and support less weight than other wheelchair lifts. They can, however, be moved and set up quickly, which can be very convenient for quickly providing access to a stage or auditorium.