Knud Jansen Lecture: Interview with David Constantine
Tuesday 4 December 2018
David Constantine is the co-founder of Motivation, a charity which works to improve the quality of life of people with mobility impairment. At ISPO World Congress he will give the Knud Jansen Lecture.
What does it mean to you that you have been selected to present the Knud Jansen Lecture at the ISPO World Congress?
After spending some years working in the provision of mobility devices in low-income countries, we at Motivation came to realise how important it was to have ISPO in the sector of prosthetics and orthotics. ISPO represents the bedrock and jumping off point for all work in the sector of providing and fitting appropriate mobility devices in challenging environments. It also acts as the umbrella to oversee the education and development of the skills required in the sector. Without ISPO there would be a huge vacuum of knowledge, education, collaboration and progress and disabled people’s lives would not be so well served. As a co-founder of Motivation focusing on design and provision of low-cost wheelchairs in low-income countries, I have seen first-hand how important it is to have ISPO in our sector. I am therefore hugely proud and honoured to have been asked to give the lecture.
What can participants expect from your Keynote?
As a disabled person and wheelchair user I know first-hand how important it is to have the right product fitted in the right way. Without this life becomes very difficult, if not impossible. I know I am very lucky to live in a country where I have access to the products, the knowledge and the finance that enables me to access the right product and therefore live the life I want to. I will aim to leave the participants of my keynote with the understanding and inspiration of why their work is so important, and, despite all the challenges, that it is worthwhile. My aim will be to bring it back to the focus of the user.
While you are motivating others, how do you keep yourself motivated?
I keep myself motivated by wanting to embrace life and all that it can offer. To do this I need to get up every day and out of my bed. Without my wheelchair, my orthosis, I cannot do this. My part in helping to bring mobility to other people in situations much more challenging than mine motivates me to continue the work alongside the team at Motivation and the rest of the sector.
How did you get the idea of founding a charity for people with mobility impairment?
If I’m really honest the idea found me. While studying design at the Royal College of Art the whole of my course was given a design challenge assignment in our first year. The three week challenge assignment was to “Design a Wheelchair for Developing Countries”. I just happened to be at the College that year when the subject of this assignment was a wheelchair. I teamed up with a fellow student Simon Gue and together we won the competition. The idea for the charity came when we were joined by a third colleague, Richard Frost and the three of us travelled to Bangladesh and realised the enormity of the problem facing disabled people living in low-income countries.
Within your organisation, which of your projects of are you specifically proud of?
In 2019 it will be 30 years since Simon and I designed the first wheelchair that led to the foundation of Motivation. In those 30 years over numerous projects, design ideas, trainings and collaborations with other organisations, the most important milestone has to be the part Motivation played in the initiation and publication of the World Health Organization 'Guidelines on the provision of Manual Wheelchairs in less resourced settings'. The publication of these fundamentally change the sector for the better and personally am very proud to have been part of the process. ISPO were fundamental in the development and publication of the Guidelines and I really value working with ISPO.
What are your visions? Which objectives would you like to achieve with your organisation in the future?
I have a vision for the sector where every person who needs some form of assistive device can get the appropriate, affordable, properly fitted device for their needs wherever they live provided and paid for by their own Government and society. Motivation’s focus has been on wheelchairs and we would like to continue to use design to help drive the sector forward, enabling people to get the right wheelchair in the right way wherever they live in the world thereby enhancing their quality-of-life.
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