Collaborating to Design Better Wheelchairs

09 Sep

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The needs of developing nations are great, but resources are few. The collaborative nature of open source design helps put everything from medical records to washing machines into the hands of people who need them most. Whirlwind Wheelchair International (WWI) relies on the same concept to improve the lives of disabled people in the developing world.

According to WWI and the World Health Organization, more than 20 million people in underdeveloped nations need a reliable wheelchair but don’t have one. WWI, a California-based non-profit organization, has been designing wheelchairs for 30 years and licenses its drawing sets under a Creative Commons license so smaller wheelchair manufacturers can reproduce them at low cost.

The wheelchairs sport design features unique to the needs of riders who must regularly get around on rough terrain. The rear wheels are made of bicycle tires that can easily be repaired or replaced, and the front wheels are specifically designed to not sink into sand, soil, or loose pavement. WWI also makes sure riders are well-equipped to service their own wheelchairs — each one ships with a tire repair kit, pump, and detailed user manual.


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Posted by on September 9, 2010 in Uncategorized


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