Additional Human Factors Research

Human factors research is also being conducted at other universities, but with the focus on uni­versal design and accessible design related to specific populations. Three major programs conduct­ing research in these areas include the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA) at the State University of New York (SUNY) Buffalo, the Trace Research and Development Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the North Carolina State University Center for Uni­versal Design. All three have conducted extensive research in the areas of universal design and are involved with projects specifically addressing accessible design. Major funding for these programs comes through the Department of Education and the National Institute on Disability and Reha­bilitation Research (NIDRR).

The mission of the IDeA Center in the Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning program at SUNY Buffalo, which started in 1984 and received major NIDRR funding in 1999, is twofold:

• To use research, product development, and information dissemination to create new resources for universal design practice

• To facilitate a dialogue on the practice and delivery of universal design in order to build a na­tional and international universal design community

Three projects they have undertaken specifically addressed accessible design in the bathroom. The first was a Prototype Anthropometric Database project that gathered anthropometric measure­ments of 500 wheelchair users. Information from this study was used to develop a prototype da­tabase specifically for bathrooms and bathing facilities. The second was the Visit-ability Project, which examined how to make homes more visit-able for people with disabilities, including bath­room entry and access. The third involved assessing the bathing needs and preferences of older persons with disabilities who lived at home. Data from this study was also used to design bathing facilities.

The Trace Research and Development Center, part of the College of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was started in 1971 and has primarily focused on finding ways to make information technologies and telecommunications systems more accessible and usable by peo­ple with disabilities. An additional research program was designed to gain an understanding of why and how companies adopt universal design, what factors are most important in making this decision, and what factors discourage or impede the adoption and successful practice of universal design.

Research activities at The Center for Universal Design in the College of Design at North Carolina State University began in 1989 and include applied research studies on human factors and user needs, usability of accessible and universally designed products and environments, and the impact of universal design. The bathroom is an important focus in this research.

As changes take place in bathroom use and products, ongoing research is needed to ensure the bathroom is a comfortable, safe, and efficient space. Universities and other institutions will con­tinue to contribute to the body of knowledge that can assist bathroom designers.

Further explanation and application of the research findings from these various sources is examined in chapter 4, "Human Factors and Universal Design Foundation."