Remote Accessibility Assessment of Built Environment for Individuals Who Use Wheeled Mobility Device

David M. Brienza

A Remote Accessibility Assessment System (RAAS) enables clinicians to assess the wheelchair accessibility of users' built environments from a remote location. This system used commercial software to construct 3D virtualized environments from photographs taken of the physical environment. The result of field trials of this Offline-RAAS demonstrates feasibility for field application and an alternative solution for the accessibility analysis of the wheelchair users' home in underserved areas. Nevertheless, there are some limitations to overcome, such as effective communication between consumer and service provider, acquiring high-quality 2D photos for 3D modeling.

In order to overcome limitations of the Offline-RAAS, the online version of the RAAS (Online-RAAS) is under development. This Online-RAAS has three subsystems: 1) a Multimedia Remote Assessment Support System for accessibility assessment of their living environment ; 2) a Videoconferencing and Telephotographing System used to see the structure of the consumer's physical environment from a remote location and can specify the camera position and angle of each photo; 3) a Wheelchair Maneuvering Simulation System in which a virtual wheelchair can be embedded into the VR environment and customer or clinician can explore the built environment intuitively. The results of this system will provide individuals who use wheeled mobility device the opportunity to have evaluations of physical environments made by professionals in circumstances where there would not have been the opportunity.

David M. Brienza, Ph.D., is Associate Professor and the Director of the Seating and Soft Tissue Biomechanics Laboratory in the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology. Dr. Brienza is the Director of the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Telerehabilitation of NIDRR Dr. Brienza received a BS from the University of Notre Dame and MS and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Virginia, all in Electrical Engineering. Within electrical engineering he specializes in control theory, communication systems, and image and signal processing. He also holds professorial appointments in Bioengineering and Electrical Engineering. He joined the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh in 1991. He has been working in the field of pressure ulcer prevention and seat cushion design for 14 years. He has made significant contributions in the areas of cushion design and soft tissue biomechanics including having a major role in the development of custom seating technology now marketed by PinDot by Invacare.

Jongbae Kim, B.A., is a Ph.D. student the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology. Mr. Kim plans to finish his Ph.D. program at 2005 summer and is working as an investigator for the RERC on telerehabilitation. He received a BA in Applied Statistics from Yonsei University of Korea and completed his MS program in the Industrial Engineering at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. While studying the MS program, he sustained a spinal cord injury from a fall. After suffering several challenges, he has been serving Korean people with SCI for 7 years. He has developed many rehabilitation programs for Koreans with SCI including the creation of disability community web sites. He has also educated many people with SCI in Information Technologies and worked to find jobs for educated people with SCI. He has also taught students the rehabilitation via IT technology in the Nazarene University, ChonAhn, Korea.

Presentation abstract from the 'Workplace Accommodations: State of the Science' conference
September 15-16, 2005, Altanta, GA