Whirlwind Wheelchair International

Independence Through Quality Mobility for All

Whirlwind Wheelchair International is dedicated to improving the lives of people with disabilities in the developing world, while also promoting sustainable local economic development in the process, with a good wheelchair. A “good wheelchair” must be safe, durable, locally repairable, and highly useable for the rider, which means it must fit the local terrain and environment.

WWI aims for every person in the world who needs a high quality wheelchair to obtain one, leading to maximum personal independence and integration into society. Their RoughRider wheelchair is used by 25,000 riders traveling over terrains that only the best of wheelchairs can cross, from muddy village paths to rough, pot-holed urban streets.

Action Research
Creating livelihood opportunities with a modifiable trike.

We wanted to aid Whirlwind Wheelchair International in their product design of a modifiable trike by interviewing trike users in Vietnam and the Philippines. This WWI trike will be designed in such a way that it can be used as a potential microbusiness. We wanted to hear about their experiences with their disabilities and their daily uses of the trikes, but specifically targeted those who used their trikes as microbusinesses or means of earning incomes. Their narratives would help us elucidate the effectiveness of the current trike designs, and this work will support WWI in their final trike design.

Properly addressing the social stigma and market gap

We did not realize the level of social stigma that permeates the disabled community. They felt that they were not good enough for anything besides the lottery industry. Before we can design anything, we must find ways to empower these communities, and in doing so, create opportunities in the market.




Whirlwind Wheelchair International

Stella Tran
Nathan Funkhouser 
Political Science


Creating Opportunities in Mobility

An Analysis of Trikes and Mobile Businesses Currently Available in Vietnam and the Philippines