The Human Engineering Research Laboratories houses one of the most complete wheelchair testing facilities in the country. The facility is able to conduct a majority of the ISO or ANSI/Resna testing which is required for FDA approval. Both manual and powered wheelchairs can be tested. All manner of destructive and non-destructive testing is available. Testing is conducted on equipment that has been designed and built on site and has become the standard for testing the world round.
Tests range from comparative measurements of turning radii, wheelchair size and seating dimensions to strength testing of armrests, footrests and seat backs to endurance testing of motors, axles and transmissions. Each endurance test subjects the device to three to five years of normal use in a fraction of the time. Not only can the standard tests be run, specialized testing is also available. All test equipment is calibrated on a regular basis to insure accurate data. Innovative approaches to gathering data through electronic and electro-mechanical devices guarantees results that are complete and reliable.
Not only has HERL contributed to the design and construction of wheelchair testing equipment, they are represented on numerous standards committees that draft new and better wheelchair standards. As the world of wheeled mobility expands to meet current and future needs of the population, so must the standards be expanded and revised to provide safe and reliable products to the users who depend on them.
Newer materials and designs that offer safer, lighter and more dependable devices require that standards be constantly updated. The current wheelchair test standards are covered in a two-volume set. Each item is constantly monitored for its acceptability as a viable standard and suggestions for revision are noted and offered at the standards meetings.