Friday, November 10, 2006

Conference to discuss problems of wheelchair users begins

`Wheelchairs available in developing countries are not user friendly'
`Wheelchairs in developing countries do not suit the needs of disabled people'
Conference may come out with guidelines and recommendations
BANGALORE: Problems of wheelchair users in developing countries and issues about wheelchair provisions will be the highlight of the "Consensus Conference on Wheelchair for Developing Countries," which began here on Monday.
The conference, organised by Mobility India, was inaugurated by Shobha Nambisan, Chairman and Managing Director, Karnataka State Industrial Investment and Development Corporation.
Speaking at the inauguration, Harold Shangali of the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics, and Lloyd Feinberg of USAID, said there was a need to raise awareness about wheelchair users' issues in developing countries.
They said most of the wheelchairs available in developing countries were not tailor-made for the needs of people with disabilities.
There were very few centres in such countries that made wheelchairs according to the requirements of its user, they said. A large number of wheelchairs used in developing countries did not suit the needs of its users because they were donated by agencies located in developed countries.
Therefore, only seven per cent of such wheelchairs were actually used, they said.
The conference, which is on till November 11, will come out with standard guidelines and recommendations on wheelchair provisions, Mr. Shangali said.
The guidelines would be circulated to most organisations in developing countries working in this area, he added.
The conference is supported by ISPO, the World Health Organisation and USAID. Around 100 delegates, including 20 wheelchair users, from various countries are participating in the conference.

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