International Labor Organization, Cooperatives for the Disabled: Organization and Development, ILO, Geneva, 1978.
The authors of this book - one a small enterprise development specialist and the other a rehabilitation professional - have come together to see what disabled people can achieve as entrepreneurs and to examine the potential of self-employment as an option for those who want to and are able to earn their own living. The book is the outcome of a survey of 53 businesses run by disabled people in several Asian and African countries. At its core are 16 case studies showing in detail how the disabled entrepreneurs succeeded in self-employment, and highlighting the problems they faced.
Community Based Rehabilitation News, International Newsletter from Appropriate Health Resources & Technologies Action Group Ltd.
Examples of topics from recent issues: Alternative limbmaking, the Logmobile (a self-propelled cart), tricycles from India, How to make cutting-shears for sheet metal, handgrips made from easily available materials for writing utensils or tools. In the July 1989 issue David Werner, a disabled community organizer and rehabilitation expert, author of Where there is no doctor and Disabled Village Children among others, describes several innovative examples of Third World projects run by disabled people themselves producing rehabilitation services and assistive devices as income generating projects. He writes:
"While many exciting and innovative things are happening in programs for disabled persons in developing countries, my general impression is that there are only a very few programs in which disabled persons themselves play a leading role. In most of the programs I visited, whether government, religious or private, disabled persons tend to become the objects rather than subjects. Disabled persons are acted upon and not the actors in the process. Too often emphasis is on 'normalizing' the disabled persons into an unfair social order rather than on organizing disabled people in a struggle for a fairer more just society."
"The Organization of Disabled Revolutionaries, ORD, in Nicaragua, is a group of mostly spinal cord injured young persons who came together over a common need: wheelchairs. With the increase of disabled persons resulting from the war against the Somoza dictatorship (and more recently against the Contras), the lack of a wheelchair factory in Nicaragua, and the difficulties of importing wheelchairs due to the United States embargo, the shortage was severe. Two disabled North Americans, Ralf Hotchkiss and Bruce Curtis, helped ORD set up a small wheelchair factory to design and produce low-cost high-quality, for use on rough terrain, wheelchairs. Now the so-called 'whirlwind' steel tube wheelchair is being produced by small collectives of disabled workers in various countries of Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia. ORD has also branched out into different fields and is beginning to organize disabled people throughout Nicaragua."
"The Center for Rehabilitation of the paralyzed (CRP) in Bangladesh. In the CRP severely disabled persons, mostly from spinal cord injury and severe polio, play key roles in leadership, administration, designing, teaching, income generation and other activities of the program. Working from wheelchairs and gurneys, the disabled workers make a wide variety of rehabilitation aids and hospital equipment."
"Programs and equipment for disabled persons in developing countries often suffer from the imposition of Western medical and rehabilitation.
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The project that David Werner himself helped start is PROJIMO in western Mexico. PROJIMO can be described as an alternative rural villager run rehabilitation program. Some of its most important functions is income generation and training for persons with disabilities. The PROJIMO team consists of former 'clients' who after having received assistive devices and treatment themselves stayed on to learn various marketable skills such as brace and limb making, wheelchair manufacturing and repair, welding, physical therapy and peer counseling. During the years that PROJIMO has been in existence many of these workers have left the village to settle in other places of Mexico where they set up similar projects and activities. Thus, persons who under most other circumstances would have been doomed to a life as beggars have not only become proud professionals who can support themselves and their families through their work; they are also spreading their skills and role models among disabled persons and their families in other communities.
For more information on PROJIMO and David Werner's work see
Project PROJIMO, A villager-run rehabilitation program for disabled children in Western Mexico, The Hesperian Foundation, 1983.
Newsletter From the Sierra Nevada, an occasional newsletter.
Address: The Hesperian Foundation, Box 1692, Palo Alto, California 94302, USA.
For other appropriate assistive devices and their production in developing countries see
Lagerwall, Tomas, Appropriate Aids and Equipment for Disabled People in Africa: Ways and Means for Local Production in the Third World, ICTA, Stockholm, 1989.
Lagerwall, Tomas, Appropriate Technical Aids for Disabled People: Ways and Means for Local Production in the Third World, ICTA, Stockholm, 1989. Address: Handicap Institute, Box 510, 162 15 Vällingby, Sweden.
Managua Newsletter, editor: Russel Gasser, postal address: Aptdo 5054, Managua, Nicaragua.
Russel trains disabled Nicas to become wheelchair mechanics and repair shop managers.
Tools for Power contents