Our project is a modification to a manual pull-down shelf. The shelf is now motorized and can be controlled via the single push of a single button on a key-fob remote. It also includes sensors on the bottom to detect any obstructions in its path.

Our intention was to make the cabinets at the CPRF more accessible to those of limited mobility. For a successful project, our shelf needed to be easily usable by the CPRF residents. So feedback from the CPRF residents was necessary.

We conducted a usability study with two CPRF residents, Sheridan and Jerri, on December 3, 2013. Both residents have difficulty reaching the cabinets, although Jerri can occasionally stand up out of her wheelchair to reach them. The study involved having both residents successfully lower and raise the shelf and then answering questions from our survey.


After we explained to them that the shelf operates by pressing the “A” button on the remote, both Sheridan and Jerri successfully lowered and raised the shelf on their own. Next, we conducted the following survey:

Do you think this shelf would be useful if installed in your cabinets?

Sheridan: “Yes, most definitely. For me, I can’t stand at all. It would work in any shelf.”

Jerri: “Yes.”

Is the speed ok?

Sheridan: “Yeah, the speed is great. We have china and we don’t want it to go flying out.”

What do you like about the shelf?

Sheridan: “I just like how convenient it is. I could install it anywhere.”

What would you improve about the shelf?

Sheridan: “Nothing comes to mind.”

On a scale of 1 – 10, 10 being perfect and 1 being pour, how would you rate the usability of the shelf?

Sheridan: “10″

Jerri: “10″

Do you like the single-push key-fob remote, or would you prefer a different method for controlling the shelf?

Sheridan: “I like it. I’m fine with the small remote, but some other residents might need a larger button.”


Overall, the feedback provided by Sheridan and Jerri was overwhelmingly positive. Not only were they able to operate the shelf easily, but they showed enthusiasm towards the features of the shelf giving it perfect 10′s. They like the speed of the shelf, the convenience of the remote, and the fact that it can be installed anywhere.

Although Sheridan likes the remote, he mentioned that the buttons may be too small for other residents. To resolve this, we would recommend obtaining and testing alternative remotes with buttons of different sizes.

The perfect rating and absence of critique is likely due to the fact that the study was conducted quickly after the residents only operated the shelf once. With more time, one could conduct a study that involves a resident keeping multiple shelves in his/her cabinets for an extended period. This would allow the resident to provide better feedback and address possible liability concerns.