Specialist Training for Disabilities Technicians


The earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, was the most powerful earthquake to strike the country in 200 years, resulting in approximately 230,000 deaths and an estimated 300,000 injuries.  People suffered bone fractures, paralysis, limb loss (estimates as high as 4,000 quake-related amputations), spinal cord injuries, peripheral nerve damage, and mental trauma. 
Pre-earthquake, little was known about the number or types of disabilities among the Haitian population.  A 1983 estimate put the population of people with disabilities at 800,000—10% of the population; however the accuracy of this figure is questionable due to the method and age of the estimation.  The World Health Organization estimates that between 7-10% of a country’s population is likely to have a disability.  In Haiti, this percentage is likely to be higher due to the earthquake.  Tragically, directly following the earthquake, there were only seven qualified Haitian Prosthetics and Orthotics (P&O) technicians operating within the nation to meet the overwhelming need.  Without proper aid and interventions, people with disabilities are often unable to reintegrate into society and struggle to participate effectively within the work force.
USAID has partnered with Handicap International (HI)—which is working closely with sub-awardees Healing Hands for Haiti, Don Bosco University, and Motivation—on the Specialist Training for Disabilities Technicians project.  Our efforts, with HI, will fortify Haiti’s ability to address the needs of the thousands of persons with disabilities.


USAID’s program aims to train and integrate a Haitian staff of rehabilitation technicians, P&O technicians, and physical/occupational therapists to ensure that men, women, and children with disabilities will be able to fully participate in society.  


  • Develop theoretical and practical training courses to build a staff of rehabilitation technicians, P&O technicians, and physical/occupational therapists
  • Ensure sustainability of the training programs by working closely with the Government of Haiti: the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Education, and the Secretary of State for the Integration of Persons with Disabilities
  • Implement policy at the institutional level to ensure acceptance of the technician training courses and the recognition of physiotherapy as a profession
  • Deliver specific workshops regarding the proper utilization of appropriate technologies and wheelchair provisions in Haiti
  • Provide basic and intermediate training packages on wheelchairs and 24 hour Posture Management which will be integrated into rehabilitation technician, P&0, and physiotherapy curriculums


2012 training enrollment:
  • 34 students enrolled in rehabilitation training
  • 32 students registered for Prosthetics and Orthotics training

Anticipated Results

  • 108 rehabilitation technicians trained and integrated into the Haitian health sector
  • 30 Haitians completed Prosthetic and Orthotic category II WHO/ISPO training
  • Approximately 150 Haitians appropriately trained to treat persons with disabilities and optimize independence
  • Physical therapy recognized as a vital profession and Physical Therapists assume leading roles in the rehabilitation field

Additional Information

Budget: $1.8 million
Life of Project: December 2011 – December 2014
Implementing Partner: Handicap International 


Last updated: February 06, 2014

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