There are over one billion people with disabilities in the world, with a higher prevalence in lower income countries than higher income countries. It is estimated that approximately 75 million people worldwide need a wheelchair for basic mobility yet only 5-15% of people who require wheelchairs have access to them. Access to assistive technologies can significantly empower and improve an individual’s quality of life, access to employment, education, and community engagement.
Since 2002, USAID has been committed to helping address the severe gaps in the availability of and accessibility to appropriate wheelchairs and wheelchair services in the developing world. With the goal of improving mobility and opportunities for people with mobility impairments, USAID supports a comprehensive approach to the provision of suitable wheelchairs and to implementing the associated research, education, and training that must inform and accompany this work. Investments have evolved through the years from specific organizational earmarks, to country-based and global investments in resources, policy promotion, procurement, and standards.