ADA Ramp Slope in Degrees


The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a piece of legislation adopted in 1990. The act lays out specifications for how newly built and existing structures should be made accessible for disabled users. The act contains a comprehensive list of specifications for exterior and interior fixtures, including ramps for wheelchair users. The ADA specifies ramp slope in terms of rise over run, but it can also be specified in degrees.

ADA Slope Guidelines for New Buildings

  • The Americans With Disabilities Act specifies that the maximum slope for a wheelchair ramp in a new structure is to be 1 inch of rise over each 12 inches of run. Expressed in degrees, this is a 4.76 degree slope.

ADA Slope Guidelines for Ramps in Confined Spaces or Existing Buildings

  • In the case of an existing building being refitted with wheelchair ramps, or a new building where space is limited, the ADA guidelines allow a slightly steeper ramp slope. A slope of up to 1 in 10 (or 5.71 degrees) is allowed for vertical rises of 6 inches or less; rises of 3 inches or less can use a ramp with a slope up to 1 in 8 (7.13 degrees). Under no circumstances are slopes steeper than 1 in 8 or 7.3 degrees permitted by the act.

Ramp Classification

  • The ADA considers any surface with a slope greater than 1 in 20 (2.86 degrees) to be a ramp. Once classified as a ramp, the surface must be built to fulfill the guidelines laid out in the "Ramps" section of the ADA.

Ramp Guidelines

  • All areas considered by the act to be ramps must have a landing at each end at least as wide as the ramp and at least 60 inches long. Ramps with a rise greater than 6 inches need to be equipped with handrails on either side, unless they are curb ramps or next to seating. Ramps also require curbs at least 2 inches high wherever there is a drop and must be designed to not accumulate water if installed outdoors.


  • Photo Credit man in wheelchair image by jimcox40 from
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