Innovative Practices 2014 on Accessibility

“Mountainbike-Wheelchair” for rough terrain

The Leveraged Freedom Chair is designed to enable wheelchair users in developing countries to travel effectively on unpaved surfaces and, therefore, access and integrate with their community.

“We worked closely with wheelchair users around the developing world while creating the LFC to ensure it meets their unique needs.”

About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:Leveraged Freedom Chair (LFC)
of origin
United States of America
Beneficiaries targeted Persons with mobility impairments
Approach/ model/ solution:Design, manufacturing, distribution of special wheelchairs


  • involved in 10 research and development projects
  • in ‘high gear’ travel 80% faster on tarmac
  • in ‘low gear’ power over obstacles with 50% more torque
  • levers can be removed to be used like a regular wheelchair indoors
  • Diamond Winner 2012, MassChallenge; Innovation by Design Award 2012, Fast Company; Biggest Innovation of 2011, Wall Street Journal


Regular wheelchairs are designed for the use on flat and even ground, not the rough terrain of most of the developing countries. Instead of pushing on the wheels like a regular wheelchair, LFC riders push on levers, which are biomechanically more efficient.


The LFC is built out of steel and bicycle parts that can be found in any rural village in any developing country. This enables repair anywhere. A mass production manufacturing center for the LFC was established in 2012. Located in India, shipment of wheelchairs is in close proximity to developing countries all across Asia and Africa.


At every step of the design process all stakeholders were engaged: wheelchair riders, manufacturers, and distributors. Local officials in developing countries have great appreciation for the LFC due to the low cost and sustainable design. While not yet available in the United States, there are plans for developing a model tailored toward developed countries, which will eventually make the LFC available to wheelchair users worldwide. Past implementation has been in Guatemala, India, Haiti, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Vietnam, with future implementation planned for Laos.

20_Leverage-Freedom-Chair_FotoA rider in India travels on unpaved surfaces effectively thanks to the LFC.

Global Research Innovation and Technology One Marina Park Drive, 14th Floor, Boston
MA 02210, USA | +1-617-383-4748


Top marks for:
• all voters
• NGO voters
Top marks for:
• targeting all persons with disabilities

Nominated by: Christopher J. STANFILL, The University of Texas at Austin