Systems Building for Sustainable Impact
We want people with mobility impairments to have long-term access to quality services, so we invest our resources in building and strengthening systems that will last. When these systems are built within the right institutions, and those institutions are equipped to succeed, people with mobility impairments will have reliable access to quality services and assistive products. With the improved functional mobility and independence that comes with rehabilitation services, people with mobility impairments will then be able to fully participate in political, cultural and economic areas of life.
Rehabilitation services should be provided within the health system, and AT provision should be an element of rehabilitation services—and yet in low- and middle-income countries, services are often fragmented or split across health and social protection systems.
UCP Wheels for Humanity is one of the only organizations in the world with expertise in developing both rehabilitation and AT services in low- and middle-income countries.
We build and strengthen rehabilitation services within health systems by providing training and capacity building programs, policy and standards development, and supply and distribution of wheelchairs and other life-changing AT.
Training & Capacity Building
We provide technical assistance to health personnel, in university settings, and within professional certification systems. Our capacity building approach includes in-person training, remote mentorship, and development of clinical and administrative protocols to ensure that service improvements are sustainable and standardized.
- We train physical therapists, occupational therapists, physiatrists and other health personnel how to treat pediatric and adult patients with neurological conditions.
- We train clinicians and administrators how to select and provide wheelchairs and other mobility AT appropriately, according to World Health Organization’s guidelines.
- We train technicians on wheelchair assembly, prescription fulfillment, warehouse management, repair, maintenance and refurbishment.
- We work with multi-disciplinary teams and support health facility management to develop standard operating procedures for patient intake, treatment and follow-up.
6-year-old Romina had a wheelchair that was too big – she couldn’t sit upright or reach the wheels to move around independently. Her family brought her to a UCPW service partner near her hometown in El Salvador, where she was provided with a Liberty wheelchair, fit specifically to her needs. Romina’s new wheelchair has not only changed her life, it has inspired her entire community.
Facilitation & Standards Development
We convene stakeholders at all levels and across sectors to advance policies and standards for rehabilitation service. People’s needs don’t fall neatly within sectors or ministries, and we know how to bring diverse actors together for a common goal. Our aim is integrated health systems development, where AT-inclusive rehabilitation services are available within the health system but are supported by a host of stakeholders, including community members, teachers, government officials and people with disabilities.
- We advocate for the integration of wheelchairs and other AT into health and insurance systems.
- We work with the private sector, NGOs and affected populations to support governments to develop clinical and administrative protocols for rehabilitation and AT services, by developing and piloting protocols at the hospital level, before ministries draft and revise national policies. This ensures that policies are reflective of global standards but are adapted to be appropriate, practical and context specific. We host roundtables, workshops and large-scale conferences, and facilitate government technical working groups to forward the national rehabilitation agenda. We have managed multiple international expert knowledge exchanges, enabling key government decisionmakers in low- and middle-income countries to observe comparable services in neighboring and high-income countries.
- Given our deep experience in all aspects of wheelchair manufacture and provision, and our role as the designer of the CLASP assistive products distribution mechanism, we can support governments to develop tender processes for AT procurement, including the establishment of product standards, scoring rubrics, and requirements for open bidding.
Our stakeholder engagement and advocacy efforts have been recognized through our accredited membership to the Conference of States Parties to the UNCRPD.
The 2019 Global Report on Assistive Technology (GReAT) Consultation brought academics, policymakers, service practitioners, and AT users together to guide the development of a Global Report on effective access to Assistive Technology.
UCPW presented its CLASP program as a model for incentivizing AT product development through global innovation competition.
AT Product Supply
Every year, UCP Wheels for Humanity provides thousands of wheelchairs and other AT to its network of qualified service providers in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) all over the world. When the organization was founded in 1996, Wheels for Humanity shipped refurbished products from the US to LMICs and involved volunteer US-based wheelchair specialists to provide the products during periodic service trips. The organization’s operating model has evolved, and now its high-quality products are designed especially for the LMIC context and are provided by trained local providers through established AT service delivery models. The 2019 Global Report on Assistive Technology (GReAT) Consultation brought academics, policymakers, service practitioners, and AT users together to guide the development of a Global Report on effective access to Assistive Technology. UCPW presented its CLASP program as a model for incentivizing AT product development through global innovation competition.
We are increasing global access to mobility aids
Our CLASP project is an innovative supply-chain solution that increases access to a variety of highquality, affordable assistive products, and promotes appropriate provision globally. CLASP provides a solution to supply-side challenges faced by AT service providers in LMIC settings, such as limited product variety, extensive lead time, and logistical burdens. Through CLASP, we developed the Product Advisory Council, an external review committee that evaluates the quality of all assistive products included in the CLASP Catalogue.
The Liberty II: Designed for children in less-resourced settings
Most children’s wheelchairs are designed and manufactured for the high-income market, meaning that the cost and functionality do not meet the needs of children in low- and middle-income countries. In response, we designed the Liberty II, an adjustable and growable wheelchair rugged enough to handle challenging terrain but at an affordable price.