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Ascension Introduces Portable Wheelchair Lifts for Venues
Most every convention, hospitality, and community center that rents event and meeting space seeks to attract top-draw events. In every case, accessibility requirements for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) must be met to allow those with mobility challenges to navigate stages, platforms, risers, and other elevation changes.
Meeting this challenge is a new breed of portable wheelchair lifts that look as good as they function. They raise and lower vertically like a permanent lift but can be moved as needed to multiple locations, saving labor and preserving floor space. In complete contrast to industrial-looking ramps, these new lifts actually accent and add class to the stage by incorporating see-through design elements and quality materials.
"Perception is everything in creating the right impression with an audience," says Gordon Mahoney, COO of Arkansas-based Hot Springs Convention Center & Summit Arena, a 360,000 sq. ft. facility with 120,000 sq. ft. of clear span exhibit space, and a 6,000 seat arena. "Replacing cumbersome access ramps with our aesthetic portable wheelchair lift has helped to differentiate our venues and add prestige to events. It's part of our upscale image and makes us look leading edge, not old fashioned."
Convention, hospitality, and community centers - at the risk of losing potential bookings - cannot afford to squander valuable square footage, delay room turnaround, or waste labor prepping for multiple events. In such venues, where events and audiences continuously change, permanent fixtures are too costly and inflexible, while temporary ramps are too space and labor inefficient.
"We never know when or where we'll need to provide access to a stage, riser or elevated area to those who are mobility challenged," continues Mahoney, "But we must be prepared since the need for wheelchair access is growing as the community ages."
By law, both permanent and temporary access ramps require 1 foot of horizontal run for every 1 inch of vertical elevation (a 1:12 slope), plus a 5-foot landing for every 30 feet of horizontal run. But this takes 65 feet of linear ramp to safely access a stage 60 inches high, for example.
"Even temporary ramps occupy valuable space better used by attendees," says Mahoney. "They delay event set up and strike time, which can make booking multiple same-day events more difficult."
Portable lifts change that equation entirely, moving quickly and requiring as little as 5-1/2 feet of linear space to replace up to 65 feet of ramp (for a 60 inch stage, for example).
"We commonly use an Ascension wheelchair lift at multiple stages in the same day," says Mahoney. "One person can roll it virtually anywhere in our convention center and set it up in 10 to 15 minutes," says Mahoney. "It brings in additional booking dollars because I can turn a room around much faster."
Ascension is a Tucson, AZ-based manufacturer of portable wheelchair lifts designed for portability from the ground up with larger casters, quick adjustment, and the ability to fit through doorways and plug into standard electrical outlets.
"A portable lifts helps us optimize our layout and flow without complicated adjustments," says Mahoney. "It makes people more willing to schedule their next event with us."
Because of a wide range of stages and platforms, quick adjustment to a variety of stage heights is also important in meeting the specific needs of each event.
According to Mahoney, the Hot Springs Convention Center & Summit Arena uses its portable wheelchair lift to provide patrons access to elevations from 0-60" to accommodate 12", 16" and 24" meeting-risers and main event stages from 36-60".
Since the portable wheelchair lift has a low profile and no obstructive towers, the audience has a clear view of the stage, according to Mahoney. Quiet operation that does not draw attention to the operator, and the absence of an unsightly ramp also improves event aesthetics.
Oregon State University's Memorial Union Building Services Department turned to a portable wheelchair lift after rejecting a proposed permanent stationary wheelchair lift project or the renting of temporary ramps. The permanent wheelchair lift would have cut a hole in the side of a stage as well as cut a building's main beams, according to Sid Cooper, Assistant Director of Building Services at the Memorial Union, OSU in Corvallis.
"What was going to be a $200,000 permanent wheelchair lift project at a single location cost us just one-tenth of that with the portable Ascension wheelchair lift, and we can use it anywhere," says Cooper. "We'll use it in our main ballroom to provide access to its stage and platform risers and at several other campus locations. We could use it for theater, concerts, conferences, performances, fairs, receptions and dinner dances."
According to Cooper, the cost of the portable wheelchair lift is not much more than that of renting temporary ramps a few times. It also helped optimize facility use by opening room for a coat check area, sign in tables, and meet and greet space.
"We chose a safe, aesthetic wheelchair lift," continues Cooper. "We didn't want one with a gray industrial look or a machine tower that can block the audience's view of the stage. With the Ascension lift, there's clear access, clear visibility, and more security getting up and down. We intend to use it at multiple events and locations for years to come."
For more info, call 800-459-0400; email firstname.lastname@example.org; visit www.wheelchairlift.com; or write to Ascension at 3526 E. Fort Lowell Rd., Tucson, AZ 85716.
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