Universal Design of Fitness Equipment (UDFE)

We are currently in year two of another five-year RERC RecTech NIDRR grant with the University of Alabama at Birmingham. This work is creating a set of internationally applicable ASTM Standards on universal design specifications for the manufacturers of accessible fitness equipment. Two ASTM Standards have been published for the general accessibility requirements that apply to all equipment:

ASTM F3021 Standard Specification for Universal Design of Equipment for Inclusive Use by Persons with Functional Limitations and Impairments

ASTM F 3022 Standard Test Method for Evaluating the Universal Design of Equipment for Inclusive Use by Persons with Functional Limitations and Impairments

Our focus has now shifted to universal design criteria for specific equipment, including Cycles, Treadmills, Ellipticals, and Strength Equipment.

Why Universal Design Guidelines for Fitness Equipment

Think about people who have different fitness abilities, such as:

• People who are unfit or have very limited strength or endurance
• People who have limited balance or coordination
• People who have limited vision
• People who find learning new tasks or appropriate behaviors difficult
• People who have limitations in mobility that use crutches, canes, walkers and wheelchairs.
• People who have difficulty hearing or speaking
• People who speak a different language

How could fitness equipment be designed or changed so that all of these people could exercise regularly and independently?

What is Universal Design?

• A philosophy of design that considers the needs of all potential users
• Designs that are suitable for as many users as possible
• Flexible enough to meet the needs of people with different fitness abilities

The intent of universal design is to simplify life for everyone by making products, communications, or the built environment more usable by as many people as possible at little or no extra cost. Universal design benefits people of all ages and abilities. The seven principles of universal design are:
• Equitable use
• Flexibility in use
• Simple and intuitive use
• Perceptible information
• Tolerance for error
• Low physical effort
• Size and space for approach and use

Benefits of Universal Design

Universal design provides a wide variety of benefits. For fitness equipment manufacturers these benefits include:

• Increased market size
• Wider customer base
• Captive market
• Decreased mainstream accessible equipment costs
• Increased equipment use
• Wider range of equipment
• Ability to meet Department of Justice recommendations or guidelines

Current Project Tasks:

1. Finalize UDFE Standards through ASTM approval process
       • Create additional specific-equipment criteria to augment ASTM F3021/F3022
2. Conduct Independent Testing of Strength and Cardiovascular Fitness Equipment with ASTM UDFE Standards
3. Conduct Consumer Usability Testing of Strength and Cardiovascular Fitness Equipment with ASTM UDFE Standards
4. Create a RESNA-approved symbol for fitness products that meet the UDFE Standards
5. Create a RESNA-approved symbol for facilities that meet RESNA Inclusive Fitness Standards

Funding – Phase 3 10/01/2012 - 9/30/2017
Project funding provided by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Interactive Exercise Technologies and Exercise Physiology for People with Disabilities (RERC RecTech) through the University of Alabama, Grant #H133E120005.

Funding – Phase 2 10/01/2007 - 9/30/2012
Project funding provided by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Recreational Technologies and Exercise Physiology Benefiting Individuals with Disabilities (RERC RecTech) through the University of Illinois Chicago, Grant #H133E070029.

Funding – Phase 1 04/01/2005 - 11/30/2006
Project funding provided by the National Institutes of Health, National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Accessible Health Promotion and Fitness for Persons with Disabilities Small Business Innovation Research, Grant #1 R43 HD049236-01.

ASTM Links

Committee F08 on Sports Equipment and Facilities

Join ASTM to participate in the development of Standards for the Universal Design for Fitness Equipment for Inclusive Use by People with Functional Limitations and Impairments.  

For other related pages on our website see: 
Inclusive Fitness Guidelines and StandardsRESNA Standards Committee on Inclusive Fitness and Color Contrast on Fitness Equipment