Great News! Our founder Mohammed Yousuf has been bestowed an amazing award!
The 2018 Henry Viscardi Achievement Awards recognize exemplary leaders in the disability community who have had a profound impact on shaping attitudes, raising awareness and improving the quality of life of people with disabilities.
Mohammed Yousuf stopped walking at the age of two. The polio that attacked his body left most of it paralyzed – except for his spirit. He went to school for the first time at the age of 12 and went on to get a bachelor’s degree in electronics and communications engineering and a master’s in computer engineering. He is a leading researcher in intelligent transportation systems and is known as a thought leader and a futurist both in the United States and globally. Mohammed’s vision is to transform the lives of people with disabilities by providing solutions that empower them to lead their lives independently. The challenges, barriers, accessibility, and inclusion issues he has faced have left him with a deep desire to eliminate these threats to his very existence.
His mission has always been to create opportunities that allow those with disabilities to excel and become contributing citizens. His work, both in research and social settings, is a true testament to this mission. He has spoken at more than a hundred national and international conferences, including being the keynote speaker at such events as South by Southwest, R&D100, and the ITS World Congress. He has contributed to numerous respected publications, including the Springer Series on Automation, IEEE, Thinking Highways, and Public Roads.
Mohammed has lent his expertise in a broad range of disability advisory roles, including the National Taskforce on Workforce Development for People with Disabilities; the National Conference of State Legislatures; the Transportation Research Board; the FCC Disability Advisory Committee; the Transportation Research Board committee on accessible transportation and mobility; the Autism Cares Interagency Workgroup; and, the Interagency Committee of Disability Research.
His thought leadership and passion have truly made a difference and moved disability empowerment to the next level. It is his hope that in the future he can continue to make an even greater difference.
Recognizing that there were no organizations to empower people with disabilities in his native India, Mohammed formed EAF in 2001. EAF is a nonprofit whose vision is that all people with disabilities are empowered to lead independent, fulfilling lives with honor and dignity. Started as a small initiative in Hyderabad, EAF soon spread across India. It has continued to grow to address the needs of the estimated 1 billion people with disabilities globally.
EAF’s mission is to empower people with disabilities globally by providing access to equipment, education, and employment, and by increasing awareness. Under Mohammed’s direction over the past 17 years, EAF has provided thousands of wheelchairs and assistive devices; started hundreds of small businesses; and, changed the lives of tens of thousands of individuals, one life at a time. The foundation has also facilitated rehabilitation camps that perform medical assessments and surgeries, as well as distribute medical equipment such as wheelchairs, hearing aids, and prosthetics to those in need.
Recently, Mohammed pioneered the “Give Hope 1000” initiative, which aims to establish 1,000 small businesses in rural parts of countries such as India and Uganda. These businesses, such as tea stalls, bookshops, computer cafes, and sewing shops, not only enable people with disabilities to support themselves and their families but also provide them with a sense of pride in participating in their communities.
Another program initiated and led by Mohammed focuses on giving out 1,000 WHO-standard wheelchairs to people in 10 different third-world countries. In most rural areas there, the terrain is rough and rocky and poses a real mobility challenge for people with disabilities. With durable wheelchairs that are adapted to these conditions, however, the life of someone with a disability is changed completely. They can not only get to jobs but are also able to participate in social and recreational opportunities within their communities.
Today, EAF’s work is focused on the estimated 80% of people with disabilities who live in rural areas of developing nations where disability-related services are often not available. It currently has programs in 13 countries, primarily in South Asia and Africa, where its work is directed toward impoverished communities.