Press Releases

A World-first Google User’s Voice Pilot Study Tracking Wheelchair Usage in Developing Countries Launches in Bali

UCP Wheels for Humanity is launching a world-first Google User’s Voice (GUV) Pilot study which’ll collect data on the impact of an appropriate wheelchair to a user’s quality of life and how wheelchairs are utilised by people with a disability in developing countries.

Lessons learned from the Google User’s Voice project will improve the way that wheelchairs are designed and how they are provided to users. It is a project funded by as one of the ‘big ideas that use technology to expand opportunity and independence for people with disabilities’. UCPWH received a million dollars in funding for the GUV pilot project, under the Google Impact Challenge 2015 – Disabilities.

The GUV project will help close the gap in data needed for decision-making regarding the best ways to assist wheelchair users in achieving their personal goals and aspirations.

Sensors will be attached to the wheels of six different types of wheelchairs in Bali. They are activated by motion so once they move, they will continually collect data on durability, performance, distance traveled and other factors.

Users will receive a monthly questionnaire via SMS text message about how often daily they use their wheelchair, their satisfaction, and their health.

High-quality data will be transmitted back to the GUV cloud platform and the team will also continually track changes in the users’ independence, health, and overall quality-of-life impact. Regular surveys will also be done with the wheelchair users.

“It gives us the opportunity to analyse the social, health and economic impact as well as the wheelchair usage and quality,” Dr Karen Reyes, a wheelchair user, from UCP Wheels for Humanity said.

The Canadian Wheelchair Foundation is sponsoring the wheelchairs included in this pilot study through the Rotary Club Bali Taman. A group of Rotarians from Canada have provided funds for the wheelchairs that will come from the social enterprise CLASP.

Indonesia has the world’s 4th largest population and 11 million people have a disability, which is 4.5% of the population.

70 million people globally need a wheelchair and only between 5 – 15% have access to one. People with a disability are less likely to attend school than non-disabled children and experience higher rates of unemployment which makes them especially vulnerable to poverty. While a billion people have a disability globally, 80 per cent of those with mobility issues live in developing countries and 1% of this population needs a wheelchair.

The project’s partners are the World Health Organization, MIT-CITE (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), the Universitas Gadjah Madah, International Society of Wheelchair Professionals and PUSPADI Bali.

During the GUV pilot, 150 people will receive an appropriate wheelchair from PUSPADI Bali, an NGO providing rehabilitation to local people with a disability on the island. All the participants in the pilot project are 16 years or older.

In August 2017, a full study including 300 wheelchairs in Indonesia and 300 in Nicaragua will start and will be followed for 15 months to collect more data.

The goal of the research is to guide NGOs, donors, and national government agencies to make better use of their resources to meet the goal of expanding opportunities as well as achieving maximum independence and community participation for people with disabilities around the globe.

“Ultimately this research is about bringing the wheelchair user’s voice to the forefront in policy and philanthropy decisions as well as moving away from the massive volume donation, one-size-fits-all thinking. We will demonstrate with real facts that an appropriate wheelchair is a difference maker by boosting participation and inclusion for people with a disability,” Dr Reyes said.

“Under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) it is recognised that independent mobility is a human right and people with disabilities are entitled to demand access to an appropriate wheelchair,” she said.

Dr Reyes believes there needs to be a holistic approach to boost inclusion for people with a disability in developing countries.

Note to media: Dr Reyes is available for interviews. Media will also be able to interview and take photos/film the wheelchair users involved in the study, the Google User’s Voice team from UCPW and its local partners PUSPADI Bali.

Media Contact: Stephanie Fitzpatrick (PUSPADI Bali’s Communications & Social Media Coordinator) on (+62) 812 845 39 329 or


New Library in East Bali Set to Boost Literacy Levels

The young women developed a friendship while Samara lived in Bali with her mother, Cherrell, who used to be an AVI volunteer at PUSPADI Bali, and it was there she met Tyas, who is the daughter of PUSPADI Bali’s Director I Nengah Latra. The library will be built on land owned by Latra.

The girls’ vision began when they heard that the Indonesian Government mandated that every child must read for 15 minutes a day to try and boost the national literacy rates.

“I love reading and I really wanted to help the children in my village to as well so it can open up opportunities for them,” Tyas said.

Many of the youth in Bungaya village and surrounding communities have little to no literacy skills, due to living in poverty and a lack of an education.

“The library will increase the Bungaya residents’ reading and English skills, which will improve their chances of finding a job and lifting themselves out of poverty,” Samara said. “It’ll be a space used for cultural events like dancing, and it will also be accessible for people with a disability so everyone can equally enjoy the library.”

Samara has approached Journeyman International, a group of US architects who do free designs for social good or humanitarian projects and impressed by the idea, they have drawn up the library’s plans, which includes a bale and community space for cultural performances or educational seminars.

The library, kitchen, restroom and bale are easily accessed using connecting paths, ramps and stairs, as well as low rock walls creating benches throughout the site.

“Through the library to the back side of the site, the open floor plan of the bale enhances the incredible view of Mount Agung,” Nicole Thompson, Architect at Journeyman International said. “There is a flow between all of the uses and structures, as well as the project providing the community with a learning sanctuary to gather and empower one another.”

The library’s overall costs are AUD20,000 and the teenagers have been busily fundraising to reach their target. They have set up a GoFundMe page, for people to donate or find out more about the library.

Dr Helena Studdert, the Australian Consulate General in Bali, has provided AUD5,000 in funding for the library project (through the Australian Government’s Direct Aid Program).

The Australian Consulate-General has a proud history of supporting sustainable development projects in Bali and NTB. The Consulate-General’s Direct Aid Program – active since 2005 – annually funds around 10 local activities. Since 2005, Australia has contributed around AUD800,000 to local community efforts. This year the Consulate-General will fund initiatives in women’s empowerment and development, community health, disability, and education to a value of AUD120,000.

“We are very pleased to support the building of PUSPADI Bali’s community library centre at Bungaya Village, Karangasem,” Dr Helena Studdert, the Australian Consulate-General said. “The project will give the community access to books and learning activities, as well as an education, which is fundamental to economic growth and future opportunities.”

Dr Studdert noted that “the project is a great example of the deep and long-standing ties between the Australian and Balinese peoples.” She wished the community library project good success.

Rotaract on the Sunshine Coast has also pledged AUD5,000 and a team at Bali Island School have been fundraising for the library.

Samara and Tyas are encouraging others to donate or become involved in the project.

“We appreciate any donation which all helps to build a library that residents in Bungaya village, including people with a disability and others in surrounding communities, will be able to enjoy,” Samara said. “People can also donate books, especially Indonesian books for children, so they have access to quality Bahasa and English reading material.”

The teenagers are working with PUSPADI Bali, which is one of the island’s top NGOs providing high quality rehabilitation, education, training and empowerment programs for people with a disability, during the library’s construction phase.

PUSPADI Bali staff will manage the building of the library while Tyas, Samara, her mother Cherrell, Graeme (an Australian librarian), Balinese and Australian students, as well as others, will help them on site. Construction will start in March and expected to be finished in May, with the library due to open soon after.

“I see the extreme poverty in areas of East Bali and there are children, including those with a disability, who desperately want to read and have a good education but with no means to do so,” Nengah Latra, PUSPADI Bali’s Director said. “The library will be free for the community to use, so they have the opportunity to come and learn to read at their own pace in a safe environment.”

To donate, go to the library’s GoFundMe page or by contacting Nengah Latra (Tyas’s father) on 0812 3990 701 or Cherrell Picton (Samara’s mother) via Book donations can also be made by contacting Latra or Cherrell.

For media queries, contact Stephanie Fitzpatrick on 0812 845 393 29 or or Tini Surgi on 0823 409 190 020 or