Curb Ramps

These are the curb ramps at the kibbutz we are staying at in the Northern part of Israel. While cities in Israel have improved in their accessibility, the more rural areas (such as the Golan) lag behind. The curb ramps on the top-right and bottom-left existed prior to Ramah Seminar 2013. The top-left and bottom-right were installed specially for our camper. The kibbutz has been so understanding and willing to make their facility accessible, which has truly been a wonderful experience working with them.  Every request we have made, they have complied wholeheartedly.

However, they lack the knowledge of how to implement their well placed desires. When trying to use a wheelchair or adaptable scooter over these curb ramps, we found that the incline was too steep. Sometimes the scooter gets stuck. Sometimes 3 or 4 tries are necessary to hit the “sweet spot,” allowing him to successfully ascend.

The bottom-right picture showing 2 ramps, were built to help us access a specific building. We found the black-white ramp too narrow to allow the scooter access unless faced directly head-on. The kibbutz gladly built us a new ramp when we explained this problem. So, the wooden ramp on the left-side of the picture was built. However, when we tried it out, we discovered that when descending, the scooter pushes the ramp away from the step, thus defeating the purpose of a ramp! So, we are employing the use of both ramps: black-white ramp to go down and exit, wooden ramp to go up and enter the building.

Through a quick Google search, I stumbled upon a 28 page informational guide, published by the US Department of Transportation, outlining how to properly design accessible sidewalks, curbs, and driveways. They include measurements and maximum grade percentages for ramps and curbs to ensure people with physical impairments can use their devices safely and effectively. This kind of information does not exist in Israel. The facility managers of this kibbutz do not own the proper tools to ensure the curb ramps are no more than a 8.3% increase or that a 48-inch landing is recommended for a diagonal ramp.

So what do we do?  We thank the facility for all their support and help.  We sigh a bit and then we use the resources we have available.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.  The more people who come to Israel with accessibility needs, the more information is shared, and maybe in the future, we can have ramps that everyone can use.