Whirlwind Wheelchair International
All of WWI’s designs are placed in the public domain in order not to add to the cost of village wheelchair shops using these designs.
"Whirlwind Wheelchair International works to make it possible for every person in the developing world who needs a wheelchair to obtain one that will lead to maximum personal independence and integration into society. In order to fulfill this mission, WWI seeks to give wheelchair riders a central role in all of its projects and activities.
Whirlwind Wheelchair International is a program of the Center for Civic and Community Engagment at San Francisco State University (SFSU). Founded in 1989 as the Wheeled Mobility Center by SFSU Engineering professor Peter Pfaelzer and paraplegic engineer and wheelchair designer Ralf Hotchkiss, Whirlwind grew out of Hotchkiss's work since 1980, traveling the globe designing wheelchairs that could be built in developing countries from locally available materials.
Whirlwind technology has been taken to 45 countries. Hotchkiss's pioneering work has led to many innovations that are integral to wheelchair models produced by many workshops and NGOs around the world. All of WWI’s designs are placed in the public domain in order not to add to the cost of village wheelchair shops using these designs.
From its inception, Whirlwind mostly concentrated its efforts on establishing small shop production in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. In 1998, Whirlwind formed a partnership with Physicians Against Land Mines (now Center for International Rehabilitation) in Chicago and later developed a plan to get wheelchairs to Afghanistan. The newest Whirlwind, the RoughRidertm, is now being made at the Worth Trust factory in Vellore, India, at the Kien Tuong Factory in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), at the Corporacion Regional de Rehabilitacion del Valle in Cali, Colombia,
In early 2003, Whirlwind formed a strategic consortium with the Arthur B. Schultz Foundation in the U.S., the HandiNor wheelchair factory in Fetsund, Norway, and the Atlas Alliance in Norway for higher volume production of high-quality Whirlwind-style wheelchairs in developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
The consortium, known as the Whirlwind Industrialization Project (WIP), starts with Whirlwind-generated designs based on years of experience as well as on continuous feedback from wheelchair riders in the field, called the Whirlwind Network. Whirlwind designers then work with HandiNor’s engineers to retain the important design characteristics of the Whirlwind wheelchair while making it easier and cheaper to produce in large volumes in small to medium size shops with a capacity of up to 300 wheelchairs per month. HandiNor also uses its expertise in manufacturing wheelchairs for the European market to design and produce advanced jigs and fixtures that the project supplies to the local shops. Whirlwind provides on-site training in wheelchair assembly, production, and fitting. The Arthur B. Schultz Foundation funds startup costs, and along with the Atlas Alliance provides funds to support local wheelchair markets.
Whirlwind is committed to the development of wheelchair standards appropriate to local conditions and to the adoption of such standards by the governments of developing nations. To further that effort, Whirlwind now attempts to build a Standards and Testing component into each of its projects." (http://www.whirlwindwheelchair.org/about.htm)