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  • Writer's pictureLyssa Baldwin

Outdoor Accessibility: Inclusivity in Deck Design.

Updated: Feb 6

Picture of wheelchair user
Picture of Wheelchair User

Creating an outdoor space that welcomes everyone is not just about aesthetics; it's about ensuring accessibility for individuals of all abilities. In this blog post, we explore the concept of outdoor accessibility and delve into the importance of inclusive deck design. We'll also discuss the installation of ADA-compliant ramps for decks, making outdoor spaces not just visually appealing but universally accessible.

The Importance of Inclusive Deck Design

Creating Welcoming Spaces for All:

It is important to remember the disabled community when creating outdoor spaces as well as indoor spaces. Universally accessible decks foster a sense of community and ensure that everyone, regardless of the use of assistive devices, can enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.

Understanding Diverse Needs:

We encourage you to explore and familiarize yourself with the diverse needs of individuals with different mobility needs when planning an accessible outdoor design. Understanding the needs of wheelchair and other assistive devices is crucial in creating outdoor spaces that cater to everyone.

Designing Seamless Transitions:

A key consideration is including smooth transition between indoor and outdoor spaces. For example, a small gap in height between a deck and doorway can create huge difficulties for wheelchair users. Important design elements to consider are level thresholds, wide doorways, and accessible pathways that allow for free and effortless movement.

ADA-Compliant Ramps for Decks

Wheelchair Ramp, railing
Wheelchair User Going Up Ramp

Adding ramps to a deck can serve those in wheelchairs or using crutches/canes as well as anyone facing any hardships in walking or moving or even visual impairments. When planning access to decks or platforms in commercial or residential spaces, follow current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines.

Understanding ADA Guidelines

Essentially, access ramps must be a clear width of 36", handrails on both sides if the rise of the ramp is more than 6" off the ground, the height of the run is limited to 30", and a running slope maximum of 1:12 (one foot in elevation change for every 12 feet).

For more specifics or information visit Chapter 4: Ramps and Curb Ramps (

Choosing the Right Ramp Design

We encourage you to explore different ramp designs suitable for deck installations. The following are basic ramp designs based on their configuration:

Switchback ramps

Switchback ramps turn or zigzag. These ramps have platforms at each turn to allow wheelchair users to easily navigate around corners. This type of ramp may be optimal when building in a limited amount of space.

Straight ramps

A straight ramp is like a direct road. It goes straight from one point to another without any turns. These ramps are simple, direct and optimal when there is enough space to fit their length.

Wrap-around ramps

This type of ramp curves around corners. Choosing this type of ramp may depend on the location of the door/deck/platform that you're trying to provide accessibility.

Materials for Durable and Safe Ramps:

Pay attention to what materials are being used to build ramps and decks. Whatever material is used should be strong and sturdy.

Accessible Deck Furniture and Layout:

When trying to create an accessible outdoor space, consider your outdoor furniture choices. Some considerations may include options for accessible seating and tables. Also be aware of where you place your furniture so that it doesn’t get in the way of your ramp access.

How Can We Help?

Trex composite decking ADA accessible ramp
Trex Ramp Built By Zion Builders, Inc.

Zion Builders, Inc. builds wheelchair ramps. The one you see above was built for an older couple who needed it to make their house accessible for wheelchairs and walkers. Their front door had two high steps that made it difficult to access for the couple and their daughter, who uses a walker. Using no-maintenance composite Trex decking, Zion Builders created a ramp that allowed full access all the way up to the front door, which eliminated the step from the door to the concrete patio. Whether building a ramp into a new deck, or adding it onto an already existing deck, Zion Builders can do it all! Contact us for a quote!


In conclusion, creating an inclusive outdoor space involves thoughtful deck design that considers the needs of everyone. By incorporating ADA-compliant ramps and designing with accessibility in mind, homeowners can ensure that their decks are not only beautiful but welcoming to individuals of all abilities. Let's strive to make the outdoors a space where everyone can gather, connect, and enjoy the beauty of nature together.

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