Providing suitable access equipment for disabled employees and visitors in your office building is not just a matter politeness -- it is also a legal requirement. However, finding ways to allow wheelchair users to reach raised areas and upper storeys can be challenging, especially if your building is not fitted with lifts, or the lifts you do have aren't spacious enough for larger motorised wheelchairs.
Installing a dedicated wheelchair lift is never a bad idea, and will allow wheelchair users far more freedom when it comes to accessing raised areas. However, wheelchair lifts come in two varieties, vertical and inclined, and each type of lift works best under different circumstances. It is therefore important that you take the pros and cons of each lift type into account before deciding which one to install.
When should I choose a vertical wheelchair lift for my office building?
As the name would suggest, vertical wheelchair lifts raise and lower wheelchairs along a straight vertical axis. This means they take up considerably less floor spaces than inclined lifts, and also allows them to reach much greater heights. This makes a vertical lift your wheelchair lift of choice if you need to provide access to a second (or even third) storey, as an inclined lift capable of reached a second storey would almost certainly be unacceptably large.
Vertical lifts are also very useful if you inhabit a smaller building with limited floor space, as an enclosed vertical lift can be placed outside your building. The lift user does not have to go outside to use the lift, as passageways are created in your exterior walls.
However, using vertical lifts in single storey buildings or rooms with relatively low ceilings can be quite challenging, as they require a considerable amount of vertical clearance to operate correctly. They also tend to be less spacious than inclined lifts, and can rarely accommodate more than one wheelchair user at a time.
When should I choose an inclined wheelchair lift for my office building?
Inclined wheelchair lifts elevate their users along a diagonal plane, and are ideal if you have a smaller set of steps that cannot be navigated by unaided wheelchair users. Their unique sloped design allows them to use less powerful motors than vertical lifts to achieve comparable lifting strength, so they also tend to be quieter and cheaper to run than their vertical counterparts.
Inclined lifts also tend to have larger lifting platforms than vertical lifts, making them ideal for office buildings with multiple disabled employees who may need to use the lift simultaneously. Unfortunately, inclined lifts capable of lifting wheelchair users to higher storeys would be so large and bulky that they are rarely used (or even manufactured), and vertical lifts are generally your only option if you inhabit a multi-storey office building.