Sami Rahman is a visionary man who shows his passion in helping those with disabilities. Sami has created the business Wheelchair Bearings so that he could improve the lives of many as well make life more convenient for those with wheelchairs.
Sami answered some questions about his dedication to helping those with disabilities. Sami owns the website Wheelchair Bearings, which includes guides and instructions on different tasks as well as the provides the ability to get in contact with him.
Sami answered some questions regarding his business.
Why did you direct your attention to creating this business?
3.3 million people use wheelchairs in the US. Rolling is the primary function of a wheelchair. Bearings are how they roll. Manufacturers say you need to service bearings once per year. There are no tools available to the public to change their bearings. You would have to go to a dealer. That is like saying you have to go to a dealer for gas or to change your oil. So after I ruined a set of very expensive wheels trying to service the bearings myself I realized that I needed to do something. I developed a set of tools for wheelchair users, tested them, and then started a company to get them into the hands of as many people as possible.
What are some difficulties faced with servicing wheel chairs?
- No accessible knowledge
- No tools available to the public
- No education as to why you need to service your wheelchairs
In the US wheelchairs use both metric and imperial bearings and even one uses custom specialized bearings you can’t get from general bearing suppliers. Two major manufacturers use a metric bearing on the outside that has an imperial diameter on the inside that looks also almost identical to a standard metric bearing but would deform any wheelchair part.
Insurance only replaces wheelchairs every 5 years, most people don’t know they need to service their wheelchair every year, that means that most people are pushing wheelchairs that in some cases do not have any grease or even worse, rusted bearings. This can do real damage over a lifetime of use.
What does your business offer?
- Tools for wheelchair users to service their wheelchairs (bearings tools, punches, snap ring pliers) (some we developed, some are the best of what the market has to offer).
- Tools for wheelchair users for maintaining their wheelchairs, air Pumps, wrenches and other tools like tire removal tools that a person with a disability would favour over other tools. For example, a person with low tone hand control benefits from an Allen wrench with a big t-handle or extra large tire removal tool.
- The right supplies, like the right bearings sorted by wheelchair not by bearing number, or punch resistant inner tubes, work washing tools with big handles.
- Information: From basic why, to how to do it, what bearings to use, what tools to use etc.
- We provide guides on our website, YouTube videos (more to come), and instruction booklets with each set of tools and bearings.
For example, if you type “bearings” into a manufacturer website you get two listings, you get nice technical drawings, but the problem is that you need to be able to read them, know what an R8 bearing is, and this only lists drawings. Every wheelchair they make has at least 6 bearings, and at least 2 sizes. Some metric some imperial, and a user needs to know exactly what they are looking for to be able to use the drawing correctly. My point is that it is not easy and not made for real people.
Are there any more tools you plan to add to your business? If so, what?
- Expand tools set to include sports wheelchair bearing installation and removal.
- Develop a general line of tools more adapted for wheelchair user’s physical needs.
- More step by step instruction and videos.
- More general self-service information.
- More bearing and tools, related lookup tables like bearings for X or Y wheelchair that is Z years old.
Do you plan to expand your business into more areas?
Yes, we are currently explaining into ordering parts for your users from manufactures and modify and building custom parts that do not exist (for example lightweight mounts, custom footplates etc). Long term we want to start building low cost, ultralight manual wheelchairs that are more stable than the wheelchair in the market today. We cannot find a current wheelchair for my son that is both lightweight enough for him to push but is also safe enough for him to push along. In other words, for him to be safe he has to give up his independence and that is the last thing I want. Our arc is, custom tools and information, more custom tools, general wheelchair parts, custom wheelchair parts (<- today) to (future->) become a DME (full equipment dealer) and manufacturer.
How does your business make it convenient for those looking to service their wheelchairs?
All in one spot. They have a squeak or something does not work right or they way they want to make something better, they come to us, we make it easy (which is not a hallmark of the medical industry), fast and give them the tools and know how to be in control, self-sufficient and empowered.
Why, because I am a person with a disability, I have a son (Cerebral Palsy and Autism) and daughter (ADHD) with a disability and this is all I want for myself and my children.
A little background:
I started Disability Lab to help people with disabilities solve problems that come up and to adapt to the world around them. Out of that came wheelchairbearings.com, after I developed a set of tools to help solve a problem I was having with my sons wheelchair.
Wheelchairbearings.com has grown fast to fill a much undeserved market with tools, information, parts. My vision is to know how and develop wheelchairs and other adaptive equipment that better serves the disability market.