There are approximately 40 million people with disabilities in developing countries that need a wheelchair but don’t have one. What makes matters worse is that, even if these individuals had a wheelchair, unpaved roads and long distances between villages makes it next to impossible for them to be mobile without heavy-handed assistance. Amos Winter and his team from MIT recognized this problem as an opportunity. Over the course of several years, trials with users, and numerous refinements, they created the Leveraged Freedom Chair (LFC)—a wheelchair that allows for unprecedented mobility over the roughest terrain, is under $200 to manufacture, and is repairable anywhere.
By contrast, in developed countries wheelchairs are everywhere. They bring the gift of mobility to millions of disabled people. That is, until rough terrain gets in the way. Continuum worked with Amos Winter to design a version of the LFC, the LFC Sport, that empowers active wheelchair users in first world countries to experience mobility beyond pavement. Free from significant cost restrictions and having access to sophisticated manufacturing techniques, the LFC Sport is more of a mountain bike and less of a wheelchair. By enabling active wheelchair users to travel off road with the LFC Sport, our hope is that in the immediate future we can operate under a “buy one, give three” business model where the money from the sale of the LFC Sport will go to fund LFCs for disabled individuals in developing countries.
Watch Amos Winter tell his story at TEDx Boston and how, with the first one hundred chairs currently in production, he and his team at GRIT are poised to transform the lives of people with disabilities everywhere.