The purpose is to evaluate, to modify and to develop existing or new products.
These products must have the following characteristics:
be adapted to needs;
be acceptable financially .
To verify these different characteristics, it is necessary to list the functions of the products in order to analyse them:
analysis of needs;
analysis of costs;
analysis of market.
Technical assistive aids can be resolved into 3 types according to special needs:
need to control systems for greater comfort and increased security;
need to manage equipment in environment;
need to communicate with home, surroundings and office, and to have access to outside services for greater comfort and fun.
The satisfaction of the users depends of three variables : needs, adaptation and the accessability of the products.
The consideration of needs, before the development of the products, needs a good knowledge of the disabled world with the different types of handicaps, the restrictions of possibilities and the capacities of adaptation and acceptance.
Only a collaboration between all the actors (therapists, user associations, rehabilitation centres , engineers ) can gain knowledge of all the variables to enable the best solution to be evolved. Depending on the situation, a study of the needs will be made before any further development can take place and will be completed by frequent iterative steps which will permit integration into the prototypes the results of the collected data.
In spite of this integration of the special needs, we notice very often a maladjustment between the results and the needs and some difficulties in acceptance of the developed products and systems.
In the case of motor disability, the end-users are obliged to use several type of assistive aids to compensate lost functions such as mobility, object telemanipulation and communication. Because of non standardisation between the different types of assistive aids which exist on the market, the users, who are severely disabled, find themselves confronted by many user interfaces.
To decrease or to avoid these problems and to permit a better fit with the needs of disabled people, an evaluation phase is necessary. Conducted by therapists and ergotherapists, the evaluation facilitates integration of some valuable modifications (technical, ergonomic etc) to the final product and the ability to find adequate access interfaces, such as computer devices, voice recognition, sensors etc.
But, in spite of these new applications, which allow reduced dependence for handicapped persons in their way of life, it is necessary to consider the problem of cost and economic opportunities to permit real access of these products for the users.
To avoid extra and costly functions, we have to verify with qualitative and quantitative criteria:
the duration of utilisation;
the frequency of utilisation;
the learning capacity.
For each function, we have to calculate the direct and indirect costs with the following aspects:
The costs are compared to the needs and the utility of the function. Too high a cost can have two origins:
A higher cost : then, it is necessary to reduce direct and indirect charges and all the actors must be implicated in the new specification of the functions.
Unsuited utility of the function : we can decide either to cut functions or to have the opportunity to put options on them.
The relationships between user and technical aspects are based on the choice of two different strategies:
Standardisation : the dependent user is considered to be a new opportunity for an existing market. The same technology and main functions are maintained and only the types of access are modified. The size of the market is large, but the utility and the use are low;
Specialisation : the creation of new products where the dependent user is the only and final consumer. The utility and the use are respected, but the size of the market is too small to make profitable the development.