State Level Orientation Program on WHO Guidelines-Wheelchair Service & Training Delivery

An appropriate wheelchair can be the first step towards a better quality of life, inclusion and participation in the mainstream society for people with disabilities. On a contrary an inappropriate wheelchair may lead to social inclusion, deprivation from the basic rights, entitlements & opportunities. Though wheelchair is one of the most commonly used assistive device for enabling personal mobility, training opportunities for healthcare professionals is found to be less. People often depend on donated wheelchairs which are frequently of poor quality and not suitable either for the users or the environment. WHO estimated that more than 70 million people worldwide and 6 million people in India require wheelchairs, yet only 5-15% has access to it.

WHO Guidelines seek to promote personal mobility and enhance the quality of life of wheelchair users by assisting Member States in developing a system of wheelchair provision to support the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. To promote appropriate wheelchair service provision, WHO has formulated Wheelchair Service Training Packages-Basic, Intermediate & Manager Levels for training students, professionals, policy makers & government authorities.

Mobility India has been a progressive force in Disability, Development & Rehabilitation Sector. MI promotes inclusive development work through provision of Rehabilitation Services, Assistive Technology and Therapeutic Interventions. MI is a resource centre for WSTP courses with 11 years of experience in the field of wheelchair service provision and human resource development is actively involved in conducting orientation programmes and structured WSTP courses within India. 

Mobility India in collaboration with Department of Empowerment of Differently Abled & Senior Citizens of Government of Karnataka and Disability NGOs Alliance (DNA) successfully conducted a one day State level orientation program for the officials from District Disability Welfare, Department of Empowerment of Differently Abled & Senior Citizens. The aim of the orientation program was to sensitise the officials on the need and benefit of appropriate wheelchair service provision.

The inauguration ceremony was presided by Mr B N Vijayakumar, MLA of the Jayanagar Constituency of Bangalore, Dr. Siddaraju, Director, Department of Empowerment of Differently Abled & Senior Citizen, Mr Charles Prabakar, President, Ms Romola Joseph, Secretary, Ms Sathyavathi Shamsuddeen, Member, Governing Body, Mobility India, Mr Basavraj, Chief Executive Officer, DNA and Ms Albina Shankar, Director, Mobility India.

The program commenced with the cultural performance by a person with visual impairment from Samarthanam Trust, welcome address by Mr Charles Prabakar, President, Governing Body, Mobility India followed by lamp lighting. Ms Albina Shankar, Director, Mobility India briefed about MI’s activities and emphasized on the importance of wheelchair service and training delivery, prevalence of ageing and non-communicable diseases, importance of assistive technology and in particular appropriate wheelchairs for people with disabilities and those in need to lead a good quality of life with dignity. 

Speaking about Accessible India Campaign, Dr Siddaraju, Director, Department of Empowerment of Differently Abled & Senior Citizen mentioned “It is not only about making the government offices and public places accessible, making the assistive devices, government schemes concerned with healthcare and education also should be accessible and available for people”. He also mentioned “If nature takes something from someone, it also gifts them with a new talent. That is why people with disabilities should be referred as people with different abilities and the paradigm shift has to occur from welfare to empowerment. Economic empowerment is hardly achievable without an appropriate education, so broad focus should be on making education accessible for all including those with different abilities too and stressed on the quality of assistive devices to be provided for people to empower them”. He lauded the initiatives and activities of Mobility India which is reaching to the poor in rural and urban settings. 

Mr Basavraj highlighted on the scenario of disability and facts pertaining to it in Karnataka and pledged the NGOs and government to join hands in emerging as thought leaders to bring changes in the lives of people.

“All these days I was under an impression that Wheelchair is given to people to move. Being a part of the program at Mobility India I understood how a wheelchair is of significance and varieties of wheelchairs on offer for people with varying conditions” spoke Mr B N Vijayakumar. He also encouraged the participants being the implementers to learn and understand the quality of different devices and application of the learning in practice and wished to extend all possible support towards MI’s activities.

 37 officials from Department of Disability Welfare were oriented on the WHO guidelines and Wheelchair Service Provision. Some of the wheelchair users from Mobility India shared their experience of how the wheelchair has been instrumental in changing their lives towards a positive front. 

Orientation Program at Guwahati

A 2 days workshop on “A New Approach to Wheelchair Service & Training Delivery” was conducted in collaboration with Composite Regional Centre (CRC), Guwahati & S.V.N.I.R.T.A.R., Department of Empowerment of Differently Abled & Senior Citizen, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Govt. of India on 17th & 18th of June 2017. The workshop was aimed at creating awareness among the government officials, local NGO’s and rehabilitation professionals(PT, OT, P&O) from North eastern states on the need of appropriate wheelchairs following the 8 steps of wheelchair service delivery as per WHO guidelines for people with mobility impairments. It also aimed at creating awareness on the range of wheelchair products available to meet the individual user needs, basic facilities and equipment required with accessible environment to enjoy their human rights. 203 participants which includes faculties and students from domains of Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, P &O, Special Educators, Speech Pathologists, and Audiologists attended the program. 

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