history, people developed devices to help people with disabilities. These
devices have become a benefit to us all. Today’s assistive devices are as
varied as the people who use them.
chair access ramps are a form of assistive device. They enable wheelchair users
to access vehicles.
report below is a description of how to design, fabrication and testing of an
automated ramp for wheelchair access to public service vehicles.
idea came from observation on the operations of public service vehicles in
Nairobi. A majority of Kenyans use public passenger service vehicles to commute
to and from their respective workplaces and for intra-city or inter-town
travel. There is no way for wheel chairs
and other mobility vehicles to access them.
Our main focus will be on
fourteen-passenger vehicles due to simplicity in integration. Indeed Matatu
Welfare Association (2010) provides an estimate of over 80,000 PSV vehicles in
Kenya and 85% of these are 14-seater PSVs operating in the urban and rural
areas. The Matatu Welfare Association further estimates that there are 15,000
matatus on about 50 routes in Nairobi, and about 80 per cent of them – 12,000 –
are the 14-seaters (Kenya Confidential, 2010).
to the 2009 Kenya demographic and health survey, about ten percent of the
population is disabled. Among these 26.2% have mobility disability therefore
requiring wheelchairs or other mobility devices.
the above data it is clear that a huge segment of the Kenyan populace is
without a mean of transport available to the rest of the people. Lack of
transport facilities is among one of the reasons why People with disabilities remain a marginalized population in
Kenya. People with disabilities tend to be poorer; less educated, and have
fewer employment opportunities than those without disabilities.
The Kenyan constitution is
progressive and provides for the rights of the disabled. It is one of salient
features of the constitution of Kenya is the bill of rights. Part 3- specific application on rights clause 54
(c) and (e) state that a person with any disability is entitled to reasonable
access to all places, public transport and information and access material and
device to overcome constraints arising from the person’s disability.
Other than the constitution the persons
with disability act is among other policies that comprehensively lay out the
rights of persons with disability. This Act interprets the usual day- to- day
activities as the activities of daily living which an ordinary person would
reasonably be expected to carry out. Section 21 and 23 places emphasis on
accessibility and mobility and public service vehicles respectively. In
verbatim it states;
(1) An operator of a public
service vehicle shall adapt it to suit persons with disabilities in such manner
as may be specified by the Council.
(2) All operators of public
service vehicles shall comply with subsection (1) within two years after this
section comes into operation.
Accessibility and mobility
Persons with disabilities are
entitled to a barrier-free and disability-friendly environment to enable them
to have access to buildings, roads and other social amenities, and assistive
devices and other equipment to promote their mobility.
In summary, the automated electric ramp
for disabled access is timely and important because, it is a constitutional
right for disabled people to have access to public transport. The proposed
product will fill a huge gap in the market in case the above mentioned sections
of the law are implemented.
The main research areas to be
addressed are as follows.
How to design and fabricate the
access ramp in a cost effective way.
Compliance with safety regulations.
Awareness of local fabrication and
Providing access to the vehicle in a
simple and dignified way.
The different types of wheelchairs
should be able to access the vehicle.
Conditions of operation e.g. it
should accommodate users of various weight classes.
When is the ramp needed or not?
Where is it needed? Where is the
access issue occurring?
Why is it important for us to solve
General research objective
The main objective of the research
is; to investigate a way to implement access to public service for disabled
people in wheelchairs, design parts and what materials they would be fabricated
from, develop a budget to gauge the cost of the entire project, and come up
with a work plan.
The specific objectives of the
research are as follows
Develop a design that is light weight
to minimize vehicle weight.
The matatu industry is very competitive. More weight on the
vehicle means higher fuel consumption. Additional vehicle features should thus
be of minimal weight to prevent excessive fuel consumption.
Develop a design that is strong
enough to support the weight of a human being plus the wheelchair.
The design should be stow able to
prevent interference with other intra-vehicular activity.
The design should tolerate the harsh
operating conditions of a public service vehicle.
Costs should be kept to a minimum as
the target vehicles are in the business of generating profits.
Safety should be paramount.
Adherence to statutory laws and engineering norms is key.
The following research questions
need to be answered in order for the specific research objectives to be met.
What kind of materials should the
various parts of the ramp be made of?
What is the maximum weight of a
human being on a wheel chair?
What is the best design to make the
ramp stow able with minimal footprint?
What are the operating conditions in
What laws govern the design of ramps
The justifications for the proposal
are many and varied. The key ones are listed below;
Ø There’s a legal and ethical need to provide wheel chair
users to PSV’s.
Ø There’s a huge market gap for ramps in Kenya.
Limited to steel, aluminium or plastics
Welding, cutting, machining and use of fasteners
for ramps in Kenya are scarce. We will be forced to rely on other international
jurisdictions to come up with guidelines for the design.
ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) provides accessibility guidelines for the
construction of ramps in public places, such as a maximum slope of 1:12. This
means that for every inch of rise, you will need one foot of ramp. The accessibility of ramps for buildings was first
evaluated in the late 1970s (Steinfeld, Schroeder, and Bishop 1979), which led
to the 1:12 slope standard now required for accessible buildings and vehicles.
According to research by the Urban Mass Transportation
Administration (UMTA, now the Federal Transit Administration, FTA) (RRC
International 1977), For wheelchair users, slopes of 1:3 could not be
negotiated without assistance; unassisted entry was possible for some with
slopes between 1:4 and 1:6; and ramp slopes shallower than 1:6 were
substantially easier to traverse independently. Ambulation aid users found it
very difficult to maintain standing balance at the 1:3 slope and thus
necessitated assistance, slopes of 1:4 and 1:6 could be independently traversed
with difficulty and often required assistance to exit the bus, and slopes of
1:6 and shallower could be traversed unassisted and without difficulty.
U.K. based journal of rehabilitation research and development states that
manufacturers of motorized wheelchairs recommend a maximum gradient of 1: 4
when used with vehicles that have a floor height of 56 cm.
The National Workshop on Bus-Wheelchair accessibility
provides some guidelines on the design and materials of wheelchair ramps. The
most relevant for our research are listed below;
ramp should operate when the bus is on level ground and
Up to road
grades up to seven (7) percent or four (4)’
ramp should operate when the bus is on level ground and
When the bus is
at an angle of plus or minus 8.7 percent or
Five (5) degrees
due to road crowns, depressions, or curb
movements, shear areas, or places where clothing
Or other objects
could be caught or damaged should be
Covered or in
other ways protected to prevent passenger
Injury when lift
is in operation.
small transit and par transit vehicles, wheelchair
Ramps may be
powered by a heavy-duty alternator system or a
system with batteries similar to that supplied
manufacturer of the vehicle.
§ Ferrous surfaces
should be either plated with a protective
§ Coating or be
cleaned and have a corrosion and abrasion resistant flat protective finish.
§ Nonferrous and
nonmetallic surfaces should be coated using a durable finish.
§ The mechanical
component safety factor should be at least
six (6) based on
the ultimate strength of the material.
may (1) prevent vehicle movement or (2) provide
a driver warning
light; unless the ramp is up and folded.
may prevent ramp activation and operation unless
the vehicle is
stopped and inhibited from moving and the
interlock or inherent design feature should prevent
stowing of the
ramp when the platform is occupied.
The guideline for the surface and size
will be derived from the Guideline Specifications for
Passive Lifts, Active Lifts, Wheelchair
Ramps and Securement Devices provided by the U.S. department of transport. They
are as follows;
The platform surface shall be free of
any protrusions over l/4 inch high and
shall be slip resistant. The platform
shall have a minimum clear width of 28-l/2
inches at the platform, a minimum clear
width of 30 inches measured from 2 inches
above the platform surface to 30 inches
above the platform, and a minimum clear
length of 48 inches measured from 2
inches above the surface of the platform to 30
inches above the surface of the
The ramp has a
foldable design. Two platforms fold out from the base and enable a wheelchair
user to either roll up or down from the vehicle. The platforms are made from
aluminium. This enables them to be light but provide a sturdy base for
operations when fully folded out.
Aluminium as a
material has the following advantages