Digital Human Modeling for Universal Design 2003-01-2199
Several research institutions and universities have taken on the challenge of providing solutions for accessible and universally designed workplace accommodations with a focus on people with disabilities. Accessible Design is a subset of what is termed Universal Design. Where Universal Design covers the design of products, systems and environments for all people and encompasses all design principles, Accessible Design focuses on principles that extend the standard design process to those people with some type of performance limitation. In order for individuals with disabiltities to gain better access to the work environments and the products that facilitate independence, health, safety, and social participation a multi-disciplined approach to the research is needed to identify needs and challenges of the targeted population.
Georgia Institute of Technology and its Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA) were participants in CAESAR the surface anthropometric data collection project. Data from both the CAESAR study and research generated from the Anthropometry for the Disabled project from SUNY Buffalo as well as principle of Universal Design developed at the University of North Carolina will be utilized to supplement activities for a recent grant received by CATEA to assist people with disabilities in the workplace. In keeping with President Bush's New Freedom Initiative to promote full access to community life for all Americans, Karen Milchus principle investigator for the Workplace Accommodations research grant says, (qtd. In Georgia Tech's “The Whistle”)
“The primary objective of the research is to identify, design and develop new assistive devices and universally designed technologies that will enable all individuals, particularly those with disabilties, to achieve the greatest degree of independence and integration in the workplace.”
The Center provides the expertise and information needed to assess and understand the requirements for people with disabiltities in the workplace. The evaluation of existing workplace products and services and archival studies of successful or unsucessful employment outcomes are a small sampling of the research being implemented in the project. Another area of focus will be showing designers how accessible features can be incorporated into their mainstream workplace products so that all emplyees can benefit from them while improving their productivity. Improving the effectiveness of the research through the use of new tools is key to the project. Some of the initial projects include the use of computer human modeling and anthropometry which offers significant benefits through analyses of the workplace accomodations for people with disabiltities. In the creation of DHM manikins for those with disabilties certain adaptations and new developments that incorporate characteristics and attributes of users with disabilities will be outlined in this research. Current off the shelf DHM tools are being evaluated for effectiveness in meeting the needs of a project of this scope. Moreover, this project will help to identify needs and features of DHM tools that are designed to address issues involving disability. Assessing human performance and evaluating tasks through simulations will be a critical component and advantage through the use DHM software tools. It is important to discuss the limitations of current off the shelf DHM software tools in addressing the needs of the disabled. The Workplace Accommodations project is ongoing and will be for the next five years. The recommendations and resulting developments will generate new bodies of research, products and tools to address the Universal Design of Workplace Accommodations. Using DELMIA's Human Modeling Solution V5R9, NexGen, Anthropos, and Surface Scan data in preliminary evaluations confirms the contributions that DHM plays in meeting the goals of this project. I will discuss establishing a methodology needed to understand issues of those with physical limitations while focusing on needs and adaptations of DHM manikins that are based on anthropometrics data gathered from a pool of subjects with varying attributes and characteristics representative of those with disabilities.