The International Society of Wheelchair Professionals (ISWP), launched in February 2015, was formed in light of the fact that over 70 million people worldwide require wheelchairs for mobility and function, yet most lack access to appropriate wheelchairs or services to repair them. Based on global data, the University of Pittsburgh estimates that 23 million wheelchairs are needed annually, assuming a wheelchair has a three-year useful life. Currently, about 3 million wheelchairs are produced each year, resulting in a 20 million per year deficit.
ISWP’s vision is that all people who need wheeled mobility devices receive the appropriate products and services with dignity, enabling them to access education, employment and health care and to participate in their communities. Our mission is to serve as a global resource for wheelchair service standards and provision through advocacy, education, standards, evidence-based practice, innovation and a platform for information exchange. ISWP’s mission and objectives align with the United Nations Sustainable Development goals, and we work closely with the World Health Organization (WHO). The organization currently is funded through a multi-year grant with USAID, which works to spread the mission of the United States internationally.
ISWP is led by a group of wheelchair experts at the University of Pittsburgh, with strategic partnerships with USAID and WHO. ISWP director is University of Pittsburgh’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS) Associate Professor Jon Pearlman, Ph.D., also Associate Director for Product Innovation and Translation at the Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL). Rory Cooper, Ph.D., HERL founding Director and Distinguished Professor of Rehabilitation Science and Technology (RST), is Co-Director. Mary Goldberg, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, is Co-Investigator.
An Advisory Board comprised of an experienced cross-section of wheelchair clinicians, research scientists, humanitarian organizations and manufacturers provides direction and counsel. Working Groups of representatives from the international wheelchair community meet regularly to develop and implement action plans related to the objectives. Ten University of Pittsburgh staff and students support the program.
Learn more about us in our website here: http://wheelchairnet.org/