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Research on Spatial Dimensions for Occupied Manual and Powered Wheelchairs Project

Author: David Caple, Nick Morris, Jodi Oakman, Mike Atherton, Sharon Herbstreit
Year: 2014
Type: Journal Article


This report provides the data derived from research conducted on the spatial dimensions for occupied manual and powered wheelchairs in Australia. The last comprehensive review of wheelchairs was undertaken by Bails (1983) using qualitative data. Subsequent wheelchair anthropometry projects have been undertaken by Steinfeld (USA, 2005), Ringaert (USA, 2001) and the Department of Environment, Transport and Regions (DETR, UK, 2000). All of these projects measured anthropometry of manual chairs, powered chairs and scooters. In this research project, scooters and mobility devices used by people predominantly confined to nursing homes, aged care facilities, convalescent homes and hospitals were excluded. A total of 52 participants based in Sydney, Melbourne and Geelong were involved in the current study. This included 31 powered and 21 manual wheelchair participants. Each participant had data items collected, which included personal data, static, and dynamic anthropometry measures. However, in some cases not all data was able to be collected due to participant fatigue or difficulties with completing the tasks. The static measurements were taken using an anthropometer and tape measure with calibration using a laser beam to ensure accuracy. Dynamic measurements were taken using a fixed video camera on a tripod with large foam blocks as a background whilst participants navigated a range of activities. A 100mm grid on the foam blocks was used to assist in quantification of the measures. The data derived from this study has been analysed and provided in four separate categories and includes: • Manual wheelchairs • Powered wheelchairs • A combination of manual and powered wheelchairs • Adjusted combination of manual and powered wheelchairs to reflect estimate of volumetric use in Australia. Each measure has been analysed to determine the mean, standard deviation and the 90th percentile. An adjusted measure was also introduced to reflect the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data that 14% of wheelchair users in Australia use powered chairs. Initial exploration of the data seems to suggest that most of the existing Australian Standard AS 1428.1(2009) requirements for wheelchair access are appropriate. However, there are a range of measurements where the 90th percentile of the powered wheelchairs in particular should be more closely assessed. These include the dimensions required for the 180 degree turning circles and landing length; the dimensions of a lift; the design of hand basins and shower recesses; and the seating spaces in auditoriums of assembly spaces. These could be explored further as part of the first 5 year review of the Disability (Access to Premises – Buildings) Standards. The project team including Nick Morris, Jodi Oakman, Mike Atherton and Sharon Herbstreit would like to thank the range of community agencies and disability support groups who promoted and supported this project and encouraged wheelchair participants across Australia. We also thank the steering committee from the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) for the invitation to conduct this important research project in Australia.

Further Details

Publish Dates 2014
Author Address PO Box 2135, Ivanhoe East, Victoria 3079
Pages 44
Edition 2014
Work Type Report
Keywords wheelchair usersDesignHousingExtremes of size and weightTravelHomeManual handlingmobility

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