How to Push a Wheelchair Up and Down a Ramp? (Stay BEHIND for Safety!)

If a member of your party is a wheelchair user, you may be wondering about the best ways to assist someone in a wheelchair up and down a ramp.

If so, this is the article for you! We will answer your questions about wheelchair safety, how to push a chair down a ramp, and how to assist someone in a wheelchair to access a location.

Assisting a Wheelchair User Up a Ramp

If you have a friend or loved one who uses a wheelchair, there may be times when you need to assist them up a ramp. 

  1. Always stay behind the wheelchair and push the chair up the ramp.
  2. The passenger looks ahead up the ramp in front of you.
  3. Do not go above to pull the wheelchair up. 

Lean forward, in the direction of the slope of the ramp. Have enough space between yourself and the wheelchair. Not only will this make it easier to push the chair, but it will also help you avoid falling backward, which would be bad for both you and your friend.

Finally, remember to remain in conversation with the person you are assisting. This way, you can ensure that both you and the person in the chair are comfortable, and aware of how the other person is feeling.

Always communicate your needs with the wheelchair user before doing anything with their chair.

If the ramp you’re using is steep and tall, you may find that you need a break. If so, don’t worry. Put the brakes on and lock the wheels, and stay behind the chair.

Note that brakes that don’t work correctly can pose a safety hazard. The most common cause of wheelchair injuries is falling, so ensuring the brakes are in good condition is essential. Check our tips on how to tighten wheelchair brakes and keep them working correctly.

Assisting a Wheelchair User Down a Ramp

If you went up a ramp to enter a business or restaurant, you will likely have to go back down that same ramp when leaving.

If so, you should know in advance how to assist a wheelchair down a ramp. Stay behind the chair when descending.

  1. Walk backwards down the ramp.
  2. The passenger faces up the ramp, and they come down backward in front of you.
  3. Go down slowly.
  4. Try to keep the chair as straight as possible.
  5. Use your legs, not your back, to resist the steeper ramp.

The chair should never be lowered down the ramp from above for safety reasons. Never take a passenger face-first down the ramp. If a chair gets away from you, the passenger may fall off the chair.

Note: some wheelchair users may not like going backwards because they can’t see where they’re going. They might prefer having their chair tilted back slightly and going down forwards-facing if the ramp is particularly steep.

As such, if someone in a wheelchair asks you for help, ask how they would like you to assist them. And always consider which is the safest option for that particular ramp.

Reduce Unnecessary Weight

Before pushing the wheelchair up and down the ramp, remove heavy items from the chair (bag, umbrella, water bottles, etc.)

Make sure that any portable ramp can support the weight of all of you (wheelchair, passenger, and the one pushing the chair).

Accessories for Wheelchair Users

Portable wheelchair ramps are easy to install. With the ramp, you will find it easy to push a wheelchair onto porches, curbs, low stairs, or minivans.

Orford Wheelchair Ramp

The width of this Orford Wheelchair Ramp ramp is 29 inches, so it is wide enough for a standard wheelchair.

Orford ramp comes in five different lengths to suit different needs.


Note that wheelchairs may vary in size from 17 to 33 inches, but standard wheelchairs are around 25 inches wide.

Anti-tippers are small devices on wheelchairs that prevent the wheelchair from rolling backward when ascending a ramp.

Safe-T Mate Wheelchair Rear Anti Tippers

Anti-tippers are different from anti-rollback devices, which help prevent the chair from rolling backward. Make sure you don’t confuse the two when assisting the wheelchair user.

Safe-T Mate Wheelchair Anti Rollback Device

Wheelchair Accessibility Regulations

It’s vital for businesses and public facilities to make their buildings safe and accessible for all members of the public, including people who have disabilities.

In the United States, there are even federal laws that regulate accessibility standards.

One of the most common ways businesses can make their buildings accessible to wheelchair users is by installing ramps. 

However, simply installing a ramp does not necessarily guarantee safety. People also need to know how to use these ramps safely when assisting wheelchair users.

The Bottom Line

There are all kinds of safety regulations in place to ensure that businesses and public facilities are accessible to all people, including those with physical disabilities.

However, making safe use of these facilities requires informing the public of the best practices they can use to promote accessibility.

As a final note, you should always remember to ask the person if they need assistance before taking it upon yourself to help them.

Wheelchairs are an extension of their user’s body; if you wouldn’t pick someone up and carry them up the stairs without permission, don’t touch someone’s chair unless they say it’s okay. 

If you ever find yourself needing to help a person in a wheelchair go up or down a ramp, there’s no need to worry. You can do so safely and respectfully and help make more places accessible for everyone.

In this article, we talked about how to push a wheelchair up a ramp. Keep in mind that a rollator differs from a wheelchair. Rollators should not be used as a wheelchair because their design is not meant to bear weight while moving and there is a risk of falling.

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