In an age where everyone is working towards creating a more inclusive world, companies are going all out to create new technology that can help people with disabilities live a more hassle-free, easy life. From marking out places that are wheelchair friendly to creating better accessibility, a new innovation that has arrived on the Nepal scene is the smart, electric wheelchair.
Getting into the basics
These smart wheelchairs were designed by a team of engineers, who are part of the Centre for Independent Living in Nepal. The enthusiastic engineers were proud to explain how they had come out with the first smart electric wheelchair to grace the country.
It was at a launch held in Kathmandu, that the engineers came together to display the efficiency of their wheelchair brand ‘Leopard.’ Sunial Pariyar, the designer of this wheelchair, all of 27 years old, claims they struck upon the idea after noticing how handicapped people with disabilities were after the earthquake of the preceding year. This made them feel the need for something that was more user-friendly.
What makes this wheelchair efficient?
Although designed by a group of youngsters, this wheelchair has beaten current designs in many ways. With a single charge, it can travel up to 25 km, keeping a speed of 10 km/ hour. The best part is that the wheelchair can be traced through mobile apps so that the person never loses their way when travelling.
When this smart electric wheelchair arrived on the Nepalese scene, many people felt that they should be mass-produced and taken to a larger scale. Ganesh KC, the president of CIL, stated that irrespective of how great the innovation is, the large-scale production of these electric wheelchairs will solely depend on government support, which is what they are currently working to obtain.
Current concerns for the state
The current scenario of the roads in the capital is not pleasing as their sorry state causes handicapped people to have a tough time moving in the area. Thus, the first need is for the government to invest in road infrastructure that is better suited for people with wheelchairs.
Uday Shumsher Rana, the Minister of Finance, stated that the government would provide all the assistance needed to the engineers to support their entrepreneurial pursuits. The main task at the moment is to make sure the investment in this sector actually brings about changes in real life. The minister stated that canceling taxes on import of joysticks, batteries and other materials can help push the manufacture of these wheelchairs forward.
The state of wheelchairs at present is not positive because while there are about 70,000 people with disabilities in Nepal, only about 30,000 manual wheelchairs are present in the market. However, this number has been witnessing a steady growth in the last couple of years.
From these statistics, about 7,000 people have severe disabilities and thus, need electric wheelchairs; however, barely 20 electric wheelchairs are in use in Nepal, according to the Chairperson of the National Federation of the Disabled, Sudarshan Subedi.
At the launch programme, the engineers responsible for bringing the first smart electric wheelchair to the country were lauded for their innovation and were told to go ahead and make the most of their remarkable talents.