Accessibility in the Home

teamlions|Elevator Pitch

22, نوفمبر 2010

For: handicapped people who have difficulty doing everyday tasks

Because: Many common designs are directed toward the average person without a form of disability. Handicapped people have difficulty maneuvering around confined spaces in buildings, such as bathrooms and doorways. There are also many objects in the house that serve as obstacles for handicapped people, such as kitchen appliances, stairs, shower heads, and even the height of bed frames.

Innovation: a wheelchair with an elevating seat and foot rests, activated by a pump or crank

Function: The wheelchair seat at full elevation would be 18 inches higher than the seat at the standard level. The pump would work by creating a retractable truss that connects the seat and foot rests to the frame of the chair.

So that: This design is a new way of looking at a wheelchair, giving the handicapped more accessibility to devices in the home such as the refrigerator, higher table heights, cabinets, microwaves, stove tops, etc.


“Those confined to wheelchairs face many frustrations when attempting to become more active in their communities. Many community and health facilities are inaccessible and available transportation is limited. Wheelchair users may have difficulty obtaining appropriate wheelchair prescriptions. Their quality of life and health may be jeopardized by pressure sores. Painful conditions in the arms may further increase the degree of disability. A special approach to fitness training may be required. The wheelchair user’s self-image will be affected by society’s general negativism toward the disabled. Knowledgeable and sympathetic medical care can reduce the stresses inevitable for patients confined to wheelchairs.”-J. E. Trotter

Wheelchair Use in the United States

An estimated 1.6 million Americans residing outside of institutions use wheelchairs, according to 199495 data from the National Health Interview Survey on Disability (NHIS-D).1 Most (1.5 million) use manual devices, with only 155,000 people using electric wheelchairs.2 Wheelchair users are among the most visible members of the disability community, experiencing among the highest levels of activity limitation and functional limitation and among the lowest levels of employment.

Activity and functional limitation

Wheelchair users report very high levels of activity limitation, functional limitation, difficulty in basic life activities, and perceived disability (Figure 2).

Activity limitation, a traditional definition of disability, is measured by first identifying the person’s major life activityan age-appropriate activity such as attending school, working, doing housework, or performing basic self-care and home-management tasks. Respondents are asked about limitations in the major activity, and then about any other activities in which they might be limited “in any way . . . due to a health problem or impairment.”

An overwhelming majority (93.0 percent) of wheelchair users report some form of activity limitation. For two-thirds (66.1 percent), the limitation is severe enough to render them unable to perform their major activity.

Functional limitation provides another common definition of disability. Adult respondents to the NHIS-D are asked about a set of eight mobility-related physical functions: lifting a ten-pound object, climbing a flight of stairs without resting, walking one quarter mile, standing for 20 minutes, bending down from a standing position, reaching up or out, grasping or handling objects with the fingers, and holding a pen or pencil. Nearly all wheelchair users (96.2 percent) report limitations in one or more of these functions, and more than four fifths (85.7 percent) are unable to perform one or more of them. Looked at another way, only 14.3 percent of wheelchair users are able to perform all of the eight mobility-related functions listed above. More than three-quarters (78.5 percent) are unable to walk a quarter of a mile, and inabilities in climbing, standing, and bending are each reported more than half the time (63.7, 61.0, and 55.4 percent, respectively).

Self-care and home management

Limitations in self-care and home-management activities are commonly used to measure disability severity, particularly for the purposes of disability benefit programs. People needing the assistance of others in performing these activities are often regarded as having severe disabilities.

A set of six self-care activities (Activities of Daily Living, or ADL) are asked about in the NHIS-D of all persons aged 5 and above: bathing, dressing, eating, getting in or out of bed or chairs (transferring), using the toilet, and getting around inside the home. Four-fifths (80.2 percent) of wheelchair users report some degree of difficulty in at least one ADL (see Figure 2). More than three-fifths (62.7 percent) need assistance in performing at least one ADL. Bathing is the activity most likely to present problems, with 72.0 percent limited in this activity. A majority of wheelchair users are limited in dressing (54.6 Disability Statistics Abstract #23 / May 2002 3 percent), transferring (55.4 percent), toileting (52.6 percent), and getting around inside the home (59.6 percent).

The Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) are a set of everyday activities associated with managing a home. The NHIS-D asks about these IADLs for persons aged 18 or over: preparing meals, shopping, managing money, using the telephone, doing heavy housework, and doing light housework. Four-fifths (80.6 percent) of wheelchair users need assistance in at least one IADL; 86.4 percent have difficulty. Heavy housework is the most problematic: 85.1 percent are limited to some degree and 76.0 percent need help performing this activity. Limitations in shopping and light housework are reported by about two-thirds of wheelchair users (69.4 and 65.4 percent, respectively), and a substantial majority need help in these activities (63.6 and 58.4 percent). A limitation in preparing meals is also reported by a majority of wheelchair users (56.3 percent); half (49.3 percent) need help in this activity.

Interview with handicapped coming soon…


10, نوفمبر 2010

Emily Lenke

Hannah Fulcher

Jennifer Taylor

Rebecca Ramia

Topic: design new handicapped accessible items for the home