Wheelchair Skills Test: Development, Implementation and Pilot Evaluation of a Web-Based Tester-Training Tool

R. Lee Kirby, MD, Michael McAllister, PhD, Jill Curley, MEd, Cher Smith, BSc(OT), Don MacLeod, MSc, Kim Parker, MEng and Michael Boninger, MD

Dalhousie University and Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 4K4; University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA



The Wheelchair Skills Test (WST) is a comprehensive and generic instrument for the objective evaluation of manual wheelchair skills. When attempting to provide WST tester-training to people in different sites, the use of modules that can be provided on the internet and managed with minimal staffing is an attractive option.


To develop, implement and evaluate an on-line learning environment through which individuals can acquire the knowledge components of the WST.


We used WST Version 4.1 and the Blackboard Learning System (BLS) for this project. The material was organized into 4 modules. These included 119 MS Word pages and 327 supporting video clips. We provided 25 usernames and passwords to the WST testers (and other interested parties). The modules had both pre-tests and post-tests. The on-line aspects of the training lent themselves to quantification of process measures. The main outcome measures were success rate and the extent of improvement between the results of the pre-test and post-test. Following completion of the final post-test, participants were asked to complete a brief on-line questionnaire.


We experienced a number of developmental challenges. Of the 25 participants who were issued usernames & passwords, 16 (64%) successfully completed training. Of these, 12 participants provided demographic data and evaluations of the on-line tool. Of the 16 who successfully completed training, the mean on-line activity was 372 minutes (range 137-793). The mean duration of individual on-line sessions was 38 minutes (range 1-260). Mean time spent doing assessments was 82 minutes (range 27-175). The video clips were the most popular pages. Participants did well on the pre-tests. The mean improvements from pre-test to post-test for the modules were in the 14-20% range. Participants’ perceptions about the on-line experience were generally positive. Of the 12 participants who provided evaluative responses, 11 (92%) found the experience useful, 12 (100%) considered it relevant, 9 (75%) found it enjoyable, 10 (83%) would recommend it to others and 12 (100%) found the assessments fair. In response to open-ended questions asking participants about what they considered to be the most helpful aspects of the experience (n = 10), 9 (90%) mentioned the videos.


On-line education of personnel for cognitive elements of the WSP is feasible. The process is effective and well tolerated by participants. Further development is warranted.


Wheelchair, wheelchair skills, distance education, internet, BlackBoard Learning System


This study was funded by a grant (# H133N000019) from the US Department of Education, National Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR).

Author Contact Information:

R. Lee Kirby, Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, Nova Scotia Rehabilitation Centre Site, 1341 Summer Street, Halifax, NS, Canada B3H 4K4, Phone: 1 902-473-1268, E-mail: kirby@dal.ca.