Last month's post on "How a Woman with No Arms Dresses Herself" did not get the amount of responses I was hoping for, but I still feel designers can make an important contribution towards easing the challenges that handicapped folk face. Daily activities that you and I never even think about, like getting in and out of a car, are problems for the handicapped that need evolutionary design solutions. And from what I'm seeing, there aren't enough interested designers tackling these problems in user-friendly ways.
Let's look at how people without the use of their legs get in and out of their cars, and bear in mind that they have to get both their bodies and their wheelchairs in and out. First up is Chelsea Zimmerman, who runs a blog called Reflections of a Paralytic. Note the little things, like how far she has to stretch to close the door:Breaking down the wheelchair and hauling the chassis inside the car behind her seems incredibly cumbersome. Although motivational speaker Tamara Mena has a car with rear suicide doors with a larger opening, the process doesn't look much easier than Zimmerman's. Note how the top of the wheelchair catches on the seatbelt:
The unnamed Ohio man who runs the Paralyzed Living channel on YouTube has a slightly different approach, where he breaks the wheelchair down and hauls it across the front of his body to get it into the car:
The little details seen in each video, like Zimmerman's use of a plywood plank, Mena taking advantage of the locked steering wheel to stabilize herself, and the last guy's mention that pull-out door handles are much easier for him than the pull-up variety, are all illuminating. If anyone reading this has design suggestions for how to improve the ingress and egress issues you've seen here, please do sound off.