Purpose: The most common methods of delivering assistive technology in developing countries are charitable donation and workshops. This describes a new approach to solving the problem, a collaboration undertaken by a US-based lab and a manufacturer in India to produce quality wheelchairs. One goal is to publicize the design free of charge to manufacturers and interested parties world-wide. The process, a demonstration of a new technology transfer method, and the product, an adult manual wheelchair, are described.
Method: An iterative process occurred over four years to design and produce the wheelchair. This consisted of prototypes, small production runs, ANSI/RESNA testing, hardness and tensile testing and informal user testing.
Results: The design is a manual folding cross-brace design with several points of adjustability. Final pre-production prototypes experienced fastener failures during durability testing. Higher grade bolts were specified. Trial-run production has begun. An ANSI/RESNA wheelchair test lab was constructed in India. Subsequent projects include power and pediatric tilt-in-space wheelchairs.
Conclusions: The approach seems promising as a method to improve the quality of assistive technology available in India and begin to meet the vast need in India. Pitfalls encountered throughout the collaboration are described in this paper along with solutions to remedy these problems for future projects.