Help For Wheelchair Users: Domestic and International

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Wheelchairs change lives. Wheelchairs free the disabled around the globe, allowing independence and a better quality of life. Wheelchairs no longer signal “can’t do” but “can do.” And that’s no handicap.

But there are hardships. Some buildings aren’t wheelchair accessible, they have no ramps, no automatic doors. Unthinking consumers still park in handicapped parking spots. Lack of mobility makes it hard to maintain positive outlooks on retrospective days for the newly disabled. For those who have always been in a wheelchair, it doesn’t always become a natural extension of self.

Depending on the level of paralysis, amputation, or illness like muscular dystrophy, the handicapped person can lift themselves in and out of their wheelchair on their own, bathe themselves, fix dinner for the family, drive a car, go shopping. 

The Americans With Disabilities Act provides a Bill of Rights for the disabled or “differently-abled” as some contend. Schools must accommodate special needs. Government buildings must be accessible. The Act protects Americans, but there is no such Act to protect over 100 million handicapped in over 150 countries worldwide. One startling statistic: 20 percent of Angola’s population is disabled. Landmine casualties in countries such as Afghanistan, Cambodia, Bosnia, and Mozambique are extremely high and most of those maimed by landmines do not have wheelchairs.

Organizations such as the Wheelchair Foundation work with charities throughout the United States and the world to provide low-cost wheelchairs to those in need. For those in developing countries with rough terrain, the wheelchairs are built to withstand heavy, rough use and cost around $150 to make. The prices in some of those non-Western countries for basic commercially made wheelchairs are inflated to over $1700, making them inaccessible to all but the rich. It’s challenging to get these people the wheelchairs they need due to governmental and customs red tape, and at times, corruption. The black market for wheelchairs isn’t high, but fraud can be a problem.

U.S. and International Wheelchair Relief Organizations

International Wheelchair Foundation Provides wheelchairs for over 150 countries worldwide.

Assistive Technology Organization Links From Able-Data, the links provide information to sites that offer assistive technology devices and other durable medical equipment.

Department of Justice ADA Links

Disability Rights Law Federal mandates provide non-discrimination information about the basic rights of handicapped persons regarding employment, government, commercial, and public accommodations and access, transportation, and telecommunications.

ADA Technical Assistance Links to technical materials regarding disabilities. Extensive list of documents for the public.

Small Town ADA Regulations Smaller towns and cities often do not have the budgets to create ramps and other accommodations for the disabled. This is a list of the regulations that they are bound by at minimum.

City Government ADA Problems Budgetary and architectural problems, red tape and committee problems can provide impediments to accessibility.

Civil Rights FAQ-ADA Learn about your civil rights as a handicapped person in the United States.

The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation

Reeve Paralysis Act 2009 Introduced in 2007 to a bipartisan sponsorship, the CDRPA promotes collaborative research, rehabilitative care research, and improving quality of lives for those with mobility impairments. Signed by President Barack Obama March 20, 2009 as Title XIV of the Omnibus Public Lands Bill.


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