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Enhancement of a virtual reality wheelchair simulator to include qualitative and quantitative performance metrics

Harrison, C. S. and Grant, P. M. and Conway, B. A. (2010) Enhancement of a virtual reality wheelchair simulator to include qualitative and quantitative performance metrics. Assistive Technology: The Offical Journal of RESNA, 22 (1). pp. 20-31. ISSN 1040-0435

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Abstract

The increasing importance of inclusive design and in particular accessibility guidelines established in the U.K. 1996 Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) has been a prime motivation for the work on wheelchair access, a subset of the DDA guidelines, described in this article. The development of these guidelines mirrors the long-standing provisions developed in the U.S. In order to raise awareness of these guidelines and in particular to give architects, building designers, and users a physical sensation of how a planned development could be experienced, a wheelchair virtual reality system was developed. This compares with conventional methods of measuring against drawings and comparing dimensions against building regulations, established in the U. K. under British standards. Features of this approach include the marriage of an electromechanical force-feedback system with high-quality immersive graphics as well as the potential ability to generate a physiological rating of buildings that do not yet exist. The provision of this sense of "feel" augments immersion within the virtual reality environment and also provides the basis from which both qualitative and quantitative measures of a building's access performance can be gained.