Whirlwind Wheelchair International at San Francisco State University serves as the hub of a network of wheelchair manufacturing shops and related disability organizations around the world. Whirlwind is a nonprofit organization that designs wheelchairs for production and use in developing countries and by homeless people in the Bay area with accessibility problems such as stairs, rough terrain, unpaved roads, and lack of curb cuts.
Their latest development, the Roughrider, was designed to take some of the "rough" out of wheelchair use. While most USA wheelies crave shorter and lighter wheelchairs, a longer wheelbase and even a heavier wheelchair in general are often a very good trade off in places where it can make the difference between being a usable wheelchair or an ornament.
The "Wheelchair Diffusion Blog"
Whirlwind Roughrider Wheelchair
Whirlwind offers consulting services to private wheelchair manufacturers and individual designers and inventors. The University Corporation San Francisco State, a 501(C)(3) non-profit auxiliary to SFSU, provides Whirlwind with shop and office space and support services such as accounting, public relations staff and fund development assistance. Each semester, Whirlwind gives a hands-on wheelchair design and construction class in the classroom and shop adjacent to their office to students and interested members of the community. Students can also volunteer in a variety of capacities for Whirlwind and apply for internships. Once every other month students can participate with Whirlwind in San Francisco's Project Homeless Connect repairing wheelchairs of homeless San Franciscans. Whirlwind is a program of SFSU's Institute for Civic and Community Engagement (ICCE). See the Whirlwind Web site for a video about the wheelchair building class.
The design and construction standards are based on the World Health Organization (WHO) materials for appropriate and responsible service provision and service provision planning. Whirlwind supports the work of the World Health Organization on its service provision training and strongly encourages partners and customers to provide wheelchairs in compliance with the World Health Organization's guidelines.