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This image shows a research subject transferring to a custom-built transfer station set at a lower height than her wheelchair seat.  Please see body of the text in the final report for more description about the study. This is the repository for studies performed by the Human Engineering Research Laboratories that have been funded by the United States Access Board. HERL is very proud to have partnered with the Access Board for these important projects: The Impact of Transfer Setup on the Performance of Independent Transfers, Rollability Standards, and Wheelchair Propulsion on Cross-Slopes.

The Impact of Transfer Setup on the Performance of Independent Transfers

To work, go to school, visit with friends, go to the movies and engage in other meaningful societal and community activities depends on the ability of the wheeled mobility device (WMD) user to perform essential mobility skills in the community independently (e.g. without human assistance). The ability to perform successful independent transfers hinges on several environmental factors. Some of these factors are addressed in the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) which include recommendations concerning vertical height for elements where transfers are expected, clear space adjacent to the element, and grab bars (in certain cases). Over the last decade as accessibility standards have expanded, the number of elements designed for transfer has also increased. Recent additions of provisions for recreation facilities added criteria for transfer systems in play areas, transfer systems and transfer walls in swimming pools, and amusement ride seats designed for transfer. Criteria for medical diagnostic equipment is also under development at this time.

When combing the literature for data that could guide criteria for new elements, very little research was found. The first goal of this project was to perform a literature review of the state of the science regarding transfers and the impact of setup. The second goal of the project was to determine acceptable ranges for non-level transfers (e.g. vertical height differences), gaps between the target and wheelchair, and the clear space (length/width) needed to position the wheelchair in proximity to the target. The study was conducted by the Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) from the University of Pittsburgh and VA Pittsburgh Health Care System with support from the Access Board and the Department of Education. Researchers from HERL designed and built a modular transfer station that consisted of a height adjustable platform with a standard height lateral grab bar, optional high side guards, and an optional front grab bar. The results are in from a study of 120 people who use manual wheelchairs, power wheelchairs, and scooters and who are able to transfer from and to their device without human assistance.

Detailed results of this study can be found by clicking on the link to the final research project report below.

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Addendum to Phase I report

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Proceedings of the Web-Based Workshop on Independent Wheelchair Transfers (IWT): September 26, 2012

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Rollability Standards

Coming soon

Wheelchair Propulsion on Cross-Slopes

Coming soon

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Page last updated September 17, 2014.