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Article
Publication date: 18 October 2011

David Sanders, Ian Stott, Jasper Graham‐Jones, Alexander Gegov and Giles Tewkesbury

The purpose of this paper is to investigate how to make poweredwheelchair driving easier using simple expert systems to interpret joystick and ultrasonic sensor data. The…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate how to make poweredwheelchair driving easier using simple expert systems to interpret joystick and ultrasonic sensor data. The expert systems interpret shaky joystick movement and identify potentially hazardous situations and then recommend safe courses of action.

Design/methodology/approach

The way that a human user interacts with a poweredwheelchair is investigated. Some simple expert systems are presented that interpret hand tremor and provide joystick position signals for an ultrasonic sensor system. Results are presented from a series of timed tasks completed by users using a joystick to control a poweredwheelchair. Effect on the efficiency of driving a poweredwheelchair is measured using the times to drive through progressively more complicated courses. Drivers completed tests both with and without sensors and the most recently published systems are used to compare results.

Findings

The new expert systems consistently out‐performed the most recently published systems. A minor secondary result was that in simple environments, wheelchair drivers tended to perform better without any sensor system to assist them but in more complicated environments then they performed better with the sensor systems.

Research limitations/implications

The time taken for a poweredwheelchair to move from one place to another partly depends on how a human user interacts with the poweredwheelchair. Wheelchair driving relies heavily on visual feedback and the experience of the drivers. Although attempts were made to remove variation in skill levels by using sets of data associated with each driver and then using paired statistical tests on those sets, some variation must still be present.

Practical implications

The paper presents new systems that could allow more people to use poweredwheelchairs and also suggests that the amount of sensor support should be varied depending on circumstances.

Originality/value

The new systems described in the paper consistently performed driving tasks more quickly than the most recently published systems.

Details

Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 38 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

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Article
Publication date: 8 March 2010

David A. Sanders, Martin Langner and Giles E. Tewkesbury

The purpose of this paper is to present poweredwheelchair transducers and systems that provide more control, reduced veer on slopes, and improved energy conservation…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present poweredwheelchair transducers and systems that provide more control, reduced veer on slopes, and improved energy conservation, while reducing effort. They are especially significant for people with movement disorders who lack sufficient hand‐grasp and release ability or sufficient targeting skill to use joysticks.

Design/methodology/approach

Laboratory test rigs are created to test proportional switches and teach potential users. Then, trials are conducted with a rolling road and in real situations. Caster angle‐measurement is selected to provide feedback to minimize drift away from a chosen course and an electronic solution was created to match driver control to caster‐steering‐position. A case study is described as an example.

Findings

Results and advantages are presented from changing from using a set of digital‐switches to a set of new variable‐switches and then adding a sensor system to prevent veer on slopes. Systems have been tested for nearly two years and shown to assist poweredwheelchair‐users with poor targeting skills.

Research limitations/implications

The research used wheelchairs with caster‐wheels but the systems could easily be used on other wheelchairs.

Practical implications

Simple input‐devices are presented that isolate gross motor function and are tolerant to involuntary movements (proportional‐switches). A sensor system is presented that assists users in steering across sloping or uneven ground.

Originality/value

Proportional‐switches and sensors are shown to reduce veer and provide more control over turn and forward speed and turn radius while reducing frustration and improving energy conservation. The simple and affordable systems could be created and attached to many standard poweredwheelchairs in many organisations.

Details

Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 37 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2008

Martin Langner and David Sanders

Simple and affordable systems are described to assist wheelchair users in steering their wheelchairs across sloping ground. The systems can be attached to many standard…

Abstract

Simple and affordable systems are described to assist wheelchair users in steering their wheelchairs across sloping ground. The systems can be attached to many standard powered wheelchairs. Wheelchairs often steer by having two swivelling caster wheels but problems with this configuration occur when a wheelchair is driven along sloping ground because the casters can swivel in the direction of the slope. Gravity then causes the wheelchair to start an unwanted turn or ‘veer’ and the chair goes in an unintended direction. This situation is exacerbated for switch users, as switches cannot provide fine control to trim and compensate. Early experiments demonstrated that calibrating wheelchair controllers for straight‐line balance and optimising motor‐compensation did not solve this problem. Caster angle was selected to provide feedback to the wheelchair controllers. At the point when veer is first detected, a wheelchair has already begun to alter course and the job of the correction system is to minimise this drift from the desired course. A rolling road was created as an assessment tool and trials with both the test bed and in real situations were conducted to evaluate the new systems. The small swivel detector that was created could be successfully attached to caster swivel bearings. The new system was successful, robust and was not affected by changeable parameters. Although primarily intended for switch users, the methods can be applied to users with proportional controls.

Details

Journal of Assistive Technologies, vol. 2 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1754-9450

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Article
Publication date: 1 August 1999

David Sanders and Ian Stott

This paper presents new prototype powered wheelchair systems that are easy to use and safe. The systems use simple ultrasonic sensor systems to assist users in steering…

Abstract

This paper presents new prototype powered wheelchair systems that are easy to use and safe. The systems use simple ultrasonic sensor systems to assist users in steering their powered wheelchairs. The new systems could improve the chances of some disabled children learning that behaviour and interaction with the environment can be controlled. An overview of the benefits to be offered by an automated wheelchair is included. Some results, problems and difficulties are described along with an assessment of the current position and the way forward.

Details

Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 26 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

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Article
Publication date: 17 September 2018

Ernesto Morales, Stéphanie Gamache, François Routhier, Jacqueline Rousseau and Olivier Doyle

The purpose of this paper is to describe a methodology to measure the circulation area required by a manual or powered wheelchair within a toilet stall and present the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe a methodology to measure the circulation area required by a manual or powered wheelchair within a toilet stall and present the range of possible results that can be collected when used in an experimental bathroom setup.

Design/methodology/approach

A bathroom environment containing a toilet, grab bars and two transparent acrylic panels suspended on rails to simulate walls was built. Three setups were experimented: 1,500 mm from the walls, 1,500 mm diagonally from the toilet and 1,700 mm from the walls. For each of the participants, markers were placed on the back and on the rear of the wheelchair and one on the toes of the participants. The Vicon® optical motion capture system was used to register the markers’ position in the 3D space.

Findings

The methodology proved to be relatively easy to install, efficient and easy to interpret in terms of results. It provides specific points from which it is possible to measure the trajectories of markers and calculate the polygonal projection of the area covered by each participant. The results showed that manual and powered wheelchair users required, respectively, 100 and 300 mm more than the minimum 1,500 mm wall-to-wall area to complete a rotation task in front of the toilet.

Originality/value

These results showed that the 1,500 mm gyration area proposed in the Canadian Code of Construction is not sufficient for manual and powered wheelchair users to circulate easily in toilet stalls. The methodology can provide evidence to support the improvement of construction norms in terms of accessible circulation areas.

Details

Journal of Enabling Technologies, vol. 12 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-6263

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Book part
Publication date: 25 September 2020

Rachael McDonald

Wheelchairs and mobility devices are important to enable mobility for students who are unable to functionally walk by themselves to fully participate in daily life…

Abstract

Wheelchairs and mobility devices are important to enable mobility for students who are unable to functionally walk by themselves to fully participate in daily life. However, they can be enablers or barriers to inclusion and participation for students. Children and adolescents, like other wheelchair users, have a varying number of reasons to use chairs, but what type of chair, how it is used and what type of participation it encourages or discourages is as individual as the child themselves. This is an area of practice that has little evidence on which to base decisions, leading to inconsistencies of provision practice and inclusion in mainstream environments. This chapter will discuss why children use wheelchairs in the first place, then outline some of the typical types of wheelchair available and discuss matching the child to their wheelchair. Barriers to appropriate use of wheelchairs include policy, funding, attitudes and perceived skill set. Children who use wheelchairs often do not gain the motor experiences that their peers do yet are expected to perform skilled wheeled mobility, often without training. Finally, inclusion in school is about inclusion not only in the classroom but also in all activities to do with their school-based communities.

The choice of what type of mobility a child needs is down to their self-defined goals in the context of their school environment, family and general ecosystem. Other forms of wheeled mobility included adaptive bicycles for children who are unable to utilise nonadapted bikes. The basis for assessment for wheeled mobility is the student. The most important part of adaptive seating is to match the student, their self-defined goals and their developmental needs. Barriers to inclusion are discussed. The final section of this chapter includes a discussion of where wheeled mobility is going into the future.

Details

Assistive Technology to Support Inclusive Education
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78769-520-7

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Article
Publication date: 18 December 2017

Nina Evans and Rae Baines

The purpose of this paper is to explore a large data set compiled by a UK charity loan scheme to identify trends and paint a practice-based picture of how young children…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore a large data set compiled by a UK charity loan scheme to identify trends and paint a practice-based picture of how young children use early years powered mobility (EYPM).

Design/methodology/approach

Statistical analysis was used to investigate a database of 90 children, ranging in age from 15 to 72 months who completed use of an EYPM device (the Wizzybug, or WB) between April 2011 and December 2015. Goals were set and reviewed, and thematic analysis was used to understand families’ insights into their children’s use of EYPM, using a free-text review form.

Findings

Children’s mean age when joining this free loan scheme was 39.6 months. The later the child started using a Wizzybug, the less likely they were to achieve their goals. A theme of happiness and enjoyment emerged as important for both child and family. The child’s independence translated to independence for the whole family.

Research limitations/implications

The database was operational and incomplete. Lack of a standardised outcome measure was disadvantageous.

Practical implications

Challenges of translating research knowledge into practice are highlighted, supporting the need for more rigorous and standardised outcome measures. Earlier identification of children’s readiness for EYPM is required alongside research and recognition of the holistic benefits of EYPM for all the family.

Originality/value

This research profited from a large data set of young children with long-term access to powered mobility at home.

Details

Journal of Enabling Technologies, vol. 11 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-6263

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 1988

MICHAEL MANDELSTAM

The Disabled Living Foundation (DLF) is a national charity providing information on daily living equipment for disabled people. In 1984 a computerisation project began…

Abstract

The Disabled Living Foundation (DLF) is a national charity providing information on daily living equipment for disabled people. In 1984 a computerisation project began. One problem addressed has been the subject retrieval of information. This has involved the assessment of classification and thesaurus schemes. The DLF has developed a thesaurus to satisfy local needs and language, while remaining aware of existing classifications and thesauri in the same or proximate subject fields. Such schemes include for example, the Nordic Classification of Technical Aids for Disabled People, BSI ROOT Thesaurus, DHSS DATA thesaurus. The DLF thesaurus has been developed under considerable pressure but has attempted to respond to theory in the field as well as practical requirements. It is the result of both librarianship skills and the detailed occupational therapy and physiotherapy subject knowledge of the DLF information officers. This article sets the DLF thesaurus in context.

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 44 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

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Article
Publication date: 18 December 2017

Ernesto Morales, Marc-Antoine Pilon, Olivier Doyle, Véronique Gauthier, Stéphanie Gamache, François Routhier and Jacqueline Rousseau

The purpose of this paper is to verify whether the horizontal grab bar for the toilet and the bathtub suggested by the Code du bâtiment du Québec conform to users…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to verify whether the horizontal grab bar for the toilet and the bathtub suggested by the Code du bâtiment du Québec conform to users’ preferences. Perceived effort, comfort and safety were considered.

Design/methodology/approach

In total, 31 adults and seniors using manual and powered wheelchairs were asked to test different grab bar configurations for both the toilet and bathtub. A questionnaire was designed to evaluate participants’ perceptions and preferences after the trials with each grab bar. Effort was measured using the ten-level Borg scale, while participants’ comfort and safety were assessed with a five-point Likert scale. Participants were finally invited to express an overall personal preference between the two grab bar used in each setup.

Findings

Participants showed preference for an L-shaped grab bar for the toilet, and a horizontal grab bar for the bathtub. The authors’ results differ from the recommendations of the barrier-free design standards of the province of Quebec’s construction code, which states that horizontal grab bars should be used for the toilet and bathtub.

Originality/value

This study suggest that despite the limited sample, there is an undeniable need for testing norms for public spaces, whenever is possible and has a direct effect on end-users, before publishing them.

Details

Journal of Enabling Technologies, vol. 11 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-6263

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Article
Publication date: 16 August 2010

Jim Mansell

This paper reports the results of a review of services for adults with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities carried out as part of the implementation of Valuing…

Abstract

This paper reports the results of a review of services for adults with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities carried out as part of the implementation of Valuing People Now. Examples of good practice were identified which could be used to illustrate both what is possible and what policy obstacles have to be overcome. Families supported to make the most of the opportunities presented by the Government's ‘personalisation’ agenda were in general getting what they and their disabled family member needed and wanted. A number of specific obstacles were identified to which national and local government need to attend in order to enable more families to take up the new opportunities available.

Details

Tizard Learning Disability Review, vol. 15 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1359-5474

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