Equipment Evaluation Project

Quarterly Report - October, November December 1977 on Contract #V101(134) P-560

I. Work Accomplished

The Equipment Evaluation Project at the Center for Independent was funded by the VA on September 30, 1977. The staff of ten full and part time employees was hired according to CIL's personnel policies and affirmative action hiring plan. All project member had begun working by the end of October. A temporary office space was found and furnished during the first month. We are planning to move into more permanent quarters sometime in February. The Equipment Evaluation Project will be sharing space with 4 other CIL projects in a building about 1½ blocks from CIL.

During this quarter, groundwork has been laid for the equipment evaluations we will be conducting. Staff training was begun, and will be ongoing. This has included a 3 day orientation to the CIL, organized by the administration; introduction to medical aspects of disability; training in vans, handcontrols and lifts; fundamentals of wheelchair repair; in addition to more infermal training sessions. A resource library on rehab equipment has been started, videotape systems and transcription machines were investigated, and bids were collected. As the VA required further justification on the need for this equipment, approval has only recently been received, and we understand that we will be receiving it in the very near future.

Contacts with Bay area wide Independent Living Programs and other appropriate contacts have been made in order to insure that the equipment to be tested is evaluated within a wide range of terrains and communities. Project staff members have participated in conferences and run small workshops focused on the equipment needs of the disabled.

We have developed a survey form to determine existing equipment in the community. This information is important for comparative testing, as well as for obtaining feedback from disabled individuals on trends in use of equipment, as well as unusual and innovative applications of existing hardware. Photographs and videotapes of Interesting ideas uncovered through this survey will be compiled and used when appropriate to demonstrate possible design changes in equipment we are evaluating.


The project staff working in the van shop have been assessing consumer needs by face to face interview, as well as installing, testing, and maintaining adaptive driving equipment. We have begun to compile demographic data on adapted van users, and established local contacts to locate an even broader sample of disabled van owners. In early December, the VA asked us to change the focus of this years' evaluations from vans to wheelchairs. Therefore we will be doing, only a preliminary van survey at this time.

As part of wheelchair evaluations, a preliminary analysis of the CIL's wheelchair repair shop records on manual wheelchair repairs was presented at a wheelchair conference in Washington D.C. in early December. Results from a nearly completed phone survey of the users of the repaired wheelchairs will be added to this analysis. The shop's power wheelchair repair records are to be analyzed in the same manner. There will of course be more variables to be considered, as the power chairs are more complex than the manual wheelchairs, and since it is already obvious to us that the power wheelchair files are individually more voluminous than the manual wheelchair files. A consumers "do-it-yourself" wheelchair repair manual is also being written. We will eventually compare the difference in maintenance records between people who fix their own chairs and those who don't. Work has begun on evaluating the Chair-e-Yacht. A telephone survey instrument has been developed, and will be used when the 12 to 20 Chair-e-Yacht owners in the state are contacted in January. These results will be analyzed and added to the face-to-face interviews already done with two Berkely Chair-e-Yacht owners, and to the mechanical evaluation already completed.

II. Current Problems

During the first two months of the project, we seemed to be having difficulty in obtaining written materials from the VA. There was also a problem with receiving payment on our invoices. In December several members of the VAPC staff were extremely helpful in solving both these problems. We hope they will continue in their assistance in these areas.

The only other problem we could predict would again be around written materials. It would be expeditious for us to receive any and all written and/or video information on the equipment we are to be evaluating before, or at least, at the same time we receive the equipment. We are confident the VAPC will assist us in obtaining these materials.


III. Outline of next Quarters' work

During the next quarter (January, February and March 1978) the following work will be performed:

  • * Protocol and survey instrument will be developed for wheelchair evaluations. We expect to receive 8 ATa, 8 Motor in the Hub, 8 Power Vessas, 8 Manual Vessas during January and February. To date, none have arrived at the CIL. These chairs will be evaluated mechanically, then distributed in the Berkeley community. We are in the process of discussing with the VA the appropriate length of a trial evaluation period. One month or two months. If we decide on one month, the chairs may be redistributed again before the end of this quarter. The second distribution will take place over a larger geographic area - San Jose to Santa Rosa.
  • * Chair-e-Yacht evaluation will be completed.
  • * The analysis of manual wheelchair repair records will be completed.
  • * Analysis of the power wheelchair repair records will be continued. The phone survey is underway at present. We hope to have this completed by the end of the quarter.
  • * The "Do-It-Yourself" Wheelchair Repair Manual will be completed and distributed.
  • * Protocol and survey instrument will be developed for the preliminary adapted van survey. Interviews will then begin in a consistent organized fashion.
  • * Environmental controls. We expect to receive 8 Gentel and 8 FCCS systems by February 15, and 2 other systems later in the year. The systems will be fitted with interfaces and distributed as we receive them.
  • * Continuation of survey interviews to determine equipment presently existing in the community. A format will be developed to cross index this information.
  • * Preparation will begin for an exhibit to be presented at the VA-RSA "Interagency Conference on Rehab. Engineering" in April.
  • * Shelly Berrol, MD will be teaching a series of 8 classes on "Medical Aspects of Disability; with an emphasis on Functional Implications" for our staff. These will be videotaped.