Assistive Technology Activities

With funding from USAID’s Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance, the HEARD Project aims to support the development of evidence-based standards for the global wheelchair sector to be housed in an independent, stakeholder-led resource center. The resource center will be capable of serving as a substantively authoritative consultative and coordinating body for:

  1. Establishing wheelchair service standards, including potential accreditation or credentialing standards;
  2. Developing evidence-based wheelchair product standards for adverse conditions;
  3. Promoting the adoption, utilization, and contextualization of product standards, service standards, and related policies in low- and middle-income countries; and
  4. Promoting coordination within the wheelchair sector.
Establish Wheelchair Service Standards encompassing potential accreditation or credentialing, including to:
  • Develop a globally representative committee to lead the process of developing service standards;
  • Determine through mapping processes the most appropriate method of recognition for wheelchair service providers;
  • Develop testing methods for wheelchair providers that are easily accessible in both LMIC’s and resourced locations;
  • Define personnel titles, variations of competency levels; and recognition methods for wheelchair personnel; and
  • Socialize and promote competency standards through formal educational institutions and accreditations (i.e. physical therapist, occupational therapist, prosthetist and orthotist), country and regional policy networks.
Promote Collaboration within the Wheelchair Sector, including to:
  • Maintain committees to lead identified priority focal areas with targeted results;
  • In collaboration with WHO, support the process to develop recommendations to update and ensure wheelchair guidelines and support materials are current and evidence-based;
  • Coordinate efforts for wheelchair service standards; wheelchair product standards; and adoption, utilization, and contextualization of standards;
  • Develop a representative governance board to drive sector priorities and establish an entity to house this governance board, as needed.
Develop Wheelchair Product Standards for Adverse Conditions, including to:
  • Develop evidence-based product standards with pass and fail thresholds for wheelchairs in adverse conditions;
  • Create target product profiles for wheelchairs to improve quality procurement;
  • Develop test methods and support the installation of testing centers which are accessible to product manufacturers, suppliers, and buyers;
  • Support product development and selection through testing, dissemination of product reviews, and field evaluations;
  • Promote testing by governments that fund wheelchair purchases; and
  • Collect ongoing data through partners to verify and refine testing methods.
Promote the Adoption, Utilization, and Contextualization of Product Standards, Service Standards and Related Policies, including to:
  • Develop tools, examples, and resources for the development of policies related to wheelchairs;
  • Support the development of regional, national, or sub-national affiliates/chapters to advocate for policies and support the adoption and utilization of product and service standards; and
  • Identify partnerships that allow for expansion of national or sub-national affiliates/chapters through complimentary networks, where appropriate.