Portable wheelchair lifts ensure the worship experience is intact and dignified.
When it comes to creating a welcoming, inclusive environment, many of those in the religious community are going beyond what’s minimally required by law. With portable wheelchair lifts, they’re providing full stage access to their employees, congregation and community.
Here, Gabriela Cervantes, marketing manager at Tucson, AZ-based AGM Container Controls, Inc. — maker of Ascension portable lifts — tells us more about this effort.
What makes the house-of-worship market a particularly appropriate one for wheelchair lifts?
The use of any accessibility system in a worship facility is event-driven; so, a wheelchair lift might not be needed all the time, for every service, on a regular basis. With a wheelchair lift — especially a portable wheelchair lift — someone simply has to move the lift in place (usually in front of a small stage) and use it whenever and wherever it’s needed.
For example, an Ascension wheelchair lift can easily be moved where it’s needed, since the lift sits on casters and just needs to get plugged into a regular wall outlet. There’s no need for building modifications or for rearranging the floor space.
How do wheelchair lifts compare, cost-wise, with portable and permanent ramp systems?
Wheelchair lifts tend to have a higher upfront cost. However, an Ascension portable wheelchair lift, for example, would only have that cost associated with its use. Every time the lift is used, there’s no need for additional installation, labor or setup, aside from moving it in place and plugging it into a wall outlet.
A portable ramp system might have a lower expense to start off with; but, the fact that it can take several labor hours to set up each time quickly adds up the costs associated with a portable ramp system. Additionally, a permanent ramp system eliminates valuable floor space that would otherwise be used to seat additional congregants, among other things.
What are some of the unique advantages — particularly in a church — of opting for a wheelchair lift as opposed to a portable or permanent ramp?
Portable wheelchair lifts don’t require installation. They’re simply moved into place by one person, plugged in, and are ready to use within minutes. Portable ramps must be set up and dismantled every time by multiple people, requiring several hours of labor time and expenses associated with this labor.
Portable wheelchair lifts are used whenever and wherever they’re needed. Permanent ramps reduce the amount of valuable floor space that the worship facility could better use for something else, such as increased seating space for its congregation.
Portable wheelchair lifts don’t attract attention from the congregation. Because the Ascension wheelchair lifts are quiet, blend with the building’s interior and have a low profile, users don’t feel like they’re the center of attention. So, the worship experience remains intact and dignified.
Imagine a choir member with a walker stepping into one of these lifts, pressing the “up” button, rising quietly while protected by crystal-clear sides, and then stepping out onto the chancel platform a few moments later.
Now, imagine sitting in the congregation, grimacing at the effort, and enduring the time it would take the same person with a walker to struggle up a 24-foot-long ramp to a 2-foot-high stage.
— Reporting by RaeAnn Slaybaugh