This term I have learned about designing assistive technology in both PPAT and 2.009. My 2.009 team decided to pursue Mobilishield, a compact, automated cover for power wheelchair users to deploy in the rain, for our final product.
While reading the Universal Design File I could not help but see the principles outlined in the text parallel the thought process we have applied them to our work thus far in the design of Mobilishield.
Principle One: Equitable Use– Mobilishield’s size and mounting mechanism will allow it to be used with any power wheelchair using a rod clamping mechanism on the side of the chair.
Principle Two: Flexibility in Use– The switch that is used to deploy Mobilishield utilizes a bust modular architecture, meaning it is easy to interface a different switch with the main enclosure if the user prefers to deploy the device using a body part other than the finger.
Principle Three: Simple and Intuitive Use– In order to deploy and retract Mobilishield, only one press of a button is required.
Principle Four: Perceptible Information– The switch’s form factor will differentiate it from the other buttons found on power wheelchair control panels.
Principle Five: Tolerance for Error– Mobilishield will be mounted on the chair adjacent to the top of the headrest with the necessary clearance to ensure the canopy is deployed above the user’s head regardless of his or her height.
Principle Six: Low Physical Effort– We have designed the switch to activate the device to require less than 0.5 N of force to operate, minimizing user fatigue.
Principle Seven: Size and Space for Approach and Use– The switch can be placed in a custom location on each chair to ensure the user can reach it repeatedly.
These principles will continue to guide us as we work on Mobilishield this semester!