Universal design in automobiles : an investigation into simulators for differently abled drivers
Coetzee, Gerhardus Johannes
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Simulators are used for many different purposes, among them physical rehabilitation and the training of differently abled learner-drivers. In South Africa, however, the extent of the latter type of simulators is limited to paraplegic learner-drivers only. The reason is that locally sourcing the necessary equipment to adapt commercial simulators for the training of differently abled learner-drivers presents a problem. The concept of Universal Design stipulates that as many individuals as possible should be able to use a particular product. Consequently, a simulator for differently abled learner-drivers should accommodate as many such persons as possible. However, applying Universal Design in the area of design researched for the present dissertation adds further complexity due to the unique nature of the physical limitations experienced by individuals. A differently abled driver puts an extreme constraint on the design of a product - and becomes a limiting user. Nevertheless, this dissertation adopts a Universal Design approach to investigate the possibility of designing such a simulator in South Africa, as well as its viability. A limiting user was included in the research to represent the bigger differently abled community. Field research was carried out by implementing a Participatory Design process. Furthermore, a team was selected according to a Meta-Design mind-set, including professionals from engineering, clinical psychology and occupational therapy. The leader and researcher was an industrial designer.