University of Pittsburgh to develop network for wheelchair professionals

The University of Pittsburgh has announced a partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development under a 2-year, $2.3 million sub-award to develop the new International Society of Wheelchair Professionals.

According to a press release, the global network will teach and professionalize device repair, build affiliations to put better equipment in the right hands and ensure a level of standardization, certification and oversight.

Starting in January 2015, the International Society of Wheelchair Professionals will be launched and administered by faculty members from the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology in the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. Assistant professors Jon Pearlman, PhD, associate director of engineering at the Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL), and Rory Cooper, PhD, HERL founding director and Distinguished Professor of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, will serve as co-directors.

The organizers intend to create three areas critical to this international network, as outlined in the funding: train people to build capacity for wheelchair service providers around the world; develop international wheelchair standards; and initiate a broad advocacy and outreach campaign to recruit affiliates on every continent.

“For at least the last 30 years, there has been a need for an international society to help improve the quality of wheelchairs,  service delivery, and repair as well, and to link consumers, designers, manufacturers, rehabilitation professionals and wheelchair users so that we can all communicate,” Cooper stated in the release. “A rising tide raises all boats, so let us raise the level for everybody in the world.”

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