Using a Vacuum Cleaner to Clean an Apartment

In the chart below, we’ve tried to break down this chore into basic steps. The Physical, Sensory and Cognitive columns all indicate what type of involvement is needed for that specific task. We did not analyze these steps from a social perspective, as this is usually an activity that is done in the privacy of one’s home.

Activity Breakdown Physical Sensory Cognitive
1. clear floor balance/strength/coordination to bend/lift see/sense where objects are located and where to move them to know which objects should be moved and which should not
2. remove vacuum from storage mobility/strength/balance to maneuver into storage space to get vacuum & attachments see/sense of storage location and space around know the storage location
3. plug in power cord flexibility to pull out cord and reach socket see/sense the socket location understand that the plug must go into the socket
4. attach appropriate hose/nozzle hand strength and fine motor skills see/sense appropriate nozzle, location, connection know which attachment is appropriate and their location
5. turn on vacuum fine motor skills with hands or feet, balance see/sense switch, awareness that it is working/clogged know how to operate the switch
6. maneuver through space strength to pull, balance/awareness not to trip over cord see/sense where to clean–finding nooks & crannies, location of cord understand back/forth motion and what has been cleaned and what needs to be cleaned
7. manage locations of cord, vacuum body, hose, attachment strength, coordination see/sense location of cord, vacuum, new socket understand concept of vacuum being attached to the wall and adjusting plug relative to rooms
8. turn off fine motor skills see/sense the switch understand when finished, how to turn off
9. unplug fine motor skills, balance, strength see/sense plug understand unplugging as a next step
10. rewrap cord fine motor skills with hands or feet, coordination see/sense cord without tangling/knots realize cord needs to be wrapped up
11. return to storage mobility/strength/balance to maneuver into storage space to get vacuum & attachments see/sense of storage location and space around know the storage location


Vision Impaired

tripping over cord
knowing position of all components
knowing what has been vacuumed
finding nooks & crannies
knowing when you run out of cord
locating new sockets

Hearing Impaired

longer response time if plug accidentally comes out of the socket/vacuum is off
difficult to sense if the vacuum is backed-up

Restricted Mobility

the chord could pose a problem maneuvering around and not tripping over
lifting/accessing machine and attachment


A system for moving and managing large objects or devices with a wheelchair. Objects/devices are placed into a storage unit which is mounted on a wall via electro-magnetic powered latches (caribiners). The user backs up to the storage unit, located at wheelchair level, and by pressing switches, located on the armrests of the wheelchair, opens and locks the front latches, securing the unit to the back of the wheelchair, and opens the back latches, releasing the unit from the wall.

A cordless, rechargeable vacuum cleaner could be adapted using this system. Attachments would be mounted on the wall nearby and all the vacuum controls would be located on the handle of the nozzle.

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