Value beyond function: analyzing the perception of wheelchair innovations in Kenya

Catherine Holloway, Vicki Austin, Giulia Barbareschi, Sibylle Daymond, Jake Honeywill, Dominic Noble, Nancy Mbugua, Ian Harris, Aneesha Singh
Oct. 31, 2020
Kenya

Abstract

Innovations in the field of assistive technology are usually evaluated based on practical considerations related to their ability to perform certain functions. However, social and emotional aspects play a huge role in how people with disabilities interact with assistive products and services. Over a five months period, we tested an innovative wheelchair service provision model that leverages 3D printing and Computer Aided Design to provide bespoke wheelchairs in Kenya. The study involved eight expert wheelchair users and five healthcare professionals who routinely provide wheelchair services in their community. Results from the study show that both users and providers attributed great value to both the novel service delivery model and the wheelchairs produced as part of the study. The reasons for their appreciation went far beyond the practical considerations and were rooted in the fact that the service delivery model and the wheelchairs promoted core values of agency, empowerment and self-expression.

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