Investigation of a user-informed standard to promote inclusive design of fitness equipment.

HUGHES, Dawn Elizabeth. (2010). Investigation of a user-informed standard to promote inclusive design of fitness equipment. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom)..

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Abstract

This thesis describes the development of a technical standard to aid in the design of inclusive commercial fitness equipment. It was driven by the Inclusive Fitness Initiative, a charitable organisation leading the way in the mainstream delivery of an inclusive fitness culture in the UK. Confirmation of the widespread inaccessibility of existing products to disabled people is provided through a literature review, which additionally highlights the importance of considering a range of product types and impairment categories in providing a feasible design solution. The review also upholds the thesis' premise that the fitness industry's adoption of more inclusive practices is being hindered by the lack of relevant and coherent design information. With the inclusive design of mainstream commercial fitness equipment in its infancy, the work necessarily draws on predominantly qualitative and inductive investigation methods. Advocated for use in new fields, a consortium approach was used to develop an inclusive design standard in consultation with relevant stakeholder groups. Data has been drawn from 5 practical testing sessions involving 122 users examining a total of 209 products. Questionnaires have been employed to capture the needs of individuals with a range of physical, sensory and cognitive impairments and the findings used to identify the foremost sources of design exclusion. Concurrently, commercial perspectives on the viability of an industry-specific inclusive design standard have been solicited from 15 equipment supplier organisations, representing approximately 65% of the industry, via a series of 9 focus group sessions. From analysis of the collective data, the first draft of the standard was created by the author. Subsequent revisions were guided by an equipment expert panel, convened to offer professional opinions and synthesise user and supplier data, until a consensus on technical content was reached. Substantive conclusions are drawn from the research with regard to the use of an independent and multidisciplinary expert panel to mediate between multiple stakeholder groups and to determine a level of inclusion that can be reasonably and practicably achieved. Further conclusions examine the changing attitudes of leading supplier organisations towards new ways of working, with the uptake of the standard, product design changes and feedback from product design staff indicating the efficacy of the research approach in promoting inclusive design practice.Finally, case study and survey data are presented to confirm the subsequent effectiveness of the standard in supporting inclusive equipment design. The value of the standard is further demonstrated by its inclusion in the bibliography of EN 957:1, the European Standard governing the safety of fitness equipment, alongside the creation of an associated class of product. In addition, the content of the standard has formed a considerable proportion of the new inclusive fitness standard under development by sub-committee WK19803 of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: Thesis (Ph.D.)--Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom), 2010.
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2018 17:23
Last Modified: 10 Apr 2018 17:23
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/20726

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