For many thousands of children who are unable to walk, the distance between
home and school is insurmountable. The promise that an education could
offer remains largely unrealized, regardless of how bright or how motivated
these children may be.
Previous efforts have been made to provide some of these children with
push rim wheelchairs or tricycle wheelchairs. However, there are inherent
design issues that make these devices unsafe, impractical and nearly
impossible to use on the rocky roads and hilly terrain that connect
the homes, schools and communities where these children live. Furthermore,
no child has sufficient wrist strength to propel themselves two kilometers
to school using push rim propulsion.
In 1992, Mobility Without Barriers Foundation researchers began to identify
these dynamics and challenges through initial field assessments in rural
India. Since then, fourteen years of research and field testing have led
to the development of a new generation of mobility options that replaces
the conventional thinking embodied in previous wheelchair designs. These
innovations include new propulsion and steering systems that dramatically
improve the range of travel and ease of use for individuals who are propelling
themselves on rough roads or hilly terrain.