Meet Rita Ebel. She makes wheelchair ramps out of Lego, earning herself the nickname 'Lego Grandma'.

Even on a grey day, little bricks of vibrant colour glint and beckon from various doorways in the west German town of Hanau. Visible from across the square, adults and children alike stop to take a closer look.

Ms Ebel, who has been in a wheelchair herself since a car accident 25 years ago, said the idea was born after a friend of hers, who is also in a wheelchair, said she could not get out of a shop with steps, and had to enlist the help of four people to carry her chair down.

Ms Ebel then saw a picture in a medical journal for paraplegics, of a woman in an electric wheelchair going over a Lego ramp.

The 62-year old got straight to work and in collaboration with the town's integration initiative, 'People in Hanau', found a willing public. In Hanau, there are now 12 sets of ramps and more are being built.

"Everyone that walks past is happy about the ramps," said hair salon manager Malika El Harti. "Finally it is something where you can see from afar that you can get in here without any problems. It's great, it just makes everyone who sees the Lego ramps happy. It's a brilliant idea."

Rita already has a part-time job on top of the hours she and her husband put in to making the ramps, but she is on a personal mission to try to help her town become barrier-free.

"Nobody just walks past a Lego ramp without taking a look. Whether it's children who try to get the bricks out or adults who take out their mobile phones to take pictures. And that's exactly it. Simply to just try and raise people's awareness a bit. To make them think: If I was in a wheelchair or was at the point where I needed a Zimmer frame, well then I would start having problems getting in certain places. And those are my personal reasons and motivation," said Rita.

The Ebels do their ramp-building on a voluntary basis, and it has become part of their everyday routine. They often spend two or three hours a day building the structures.

Wood or aluminium ramps would also do the trick, said Rita, but using the bright Lego makes her message stand out and highlights the day-to-day problems faced by people with disabilities. It is about reaching out to non-disabled people and get them to think a bit about the importance of a barrier-free life, she said.

"For me it is just about trying to sensitise the world a little bit to barrier-free travel, I mean it could happen to anyone that they suddenly end up in a situation that puts them in a wheelchair, like it did me."

As the popularity of the Lego ramps increases and the message spreads, Rita said the question now is of finding enough of the little coloured bricks. The couple rely on Lego donations, which is difficult as so many families cannot bear to part with the toy bricks.

Each ramp - made to order by the couple - contains several hundred individual bricks and uses up to eight tubes of glue.

And as they cannot hope to Lego the world on their own, the Ebels have come up with building instructions for the 13kg ramps, which they are happy to send where needed.

"In the meanwhile we have sent them to Switzerland and Austria. At the moment I am in touch with a tourism association in Spain who are offering barrier-free travel. They are really interested in getting the ramps to Spain. A school class from the US has also got in touch and a class from Germany who want me to send them the building instructions," said Rita.