Long-tread low-riser steps can be used to assist a person who is using a wheelchair in and out of their home. If the choice is made to use the steps in this manner, please follow the advice given to reduce the chances of injury to both the wheelchair user and the person assisting.
The same technique used to negotiate a curb can be used with the long-tread low-riser steps.
To assist someone up the steps, the wheelchair is tilted back, lifting the front wheels high enough to clear the riser, and then rolled forward.
When the back wheels contact the riser the helper can adjust their footing and then use a rolling/lifting motion to move the chair fully onto the next step. The helper should keep as much weight as possible on the wheels and use just enough lift to move the chair up.
The chair sits flat on each step, allowing the helper to stop and rest at any time.
Assisting someone down the steps is accomplished by rolling them backwards
down the steps, one at a time, being careful to prevent the front wheels
of the chair from dropping too suddenly to the lower step.
Both the wheelchair user and the helper should be facing uphill when going up and when going down the steps.
Properly designed ramps should be considered as the first choice for safe wheelchair movement. When a ramp is impractical, the long-tread low-riser steps provide a safer alternative than carrying an occupied wheelchair on regular steps. The steps are not appropriate for independent use by a person using a person using a wheelchair, and are not intended to replace properly designed ramps. Electric wheelchairs and battery powered carts should not be used with this type of step.
Before installing this type of step at a home, be sure the wheelchair user and helper(s) have tried the technique described in the box above and are comfortable with it.
The construction guide, "How to Build Ramps for Home Accessibility," contains design advice and complete instructions for installation of modular steps and modular wheelchair ramps. The printed manual is available from:
for Independent Living
1600 University Ave W, Suite 16
St. Paul, MN 55104-3825
Voice: 651-646-8342; TDD: 651-603-2001; Fax: 651-603-2006
The manual is also available on-line at http://www.wheelchairramp.org.