IMPACT was born in 1985 when the respected disability prevention campaigner, Sir John Wilson, supported by his wife Lady Wilson and daughter Claire Hicks, applied his experience of blindness prevention in Africa and Asia to other needless disabilities around the world.

The beginning

The UN declared 1983-1992 as the UN Decade of Disabled Persons and, seizing the opportunity, Sir John and Lady Wilson, with others, including several UN agencies, launched IMPACT.

The early years

Never wanting a top-down approach, Sir John helped to establish autonomous national IMPACTs - most of them in countries of the global south. Empowering local people to help themselves was a revolutionary idea in a time when traditional notions of ‘charity’ from rich benefactors to poor beneficiaries was the norm

Community-based disability prevention

Much of IMPACT’s work entails straightforward, low-cost initiatives in impoverished communities designed to prevent needless disability simply and with the input of local people.

Taking the Hospital to the People

IMPACT’s Lifeline Express hospital train took to India’s famous rail network in 1991 and was followed in 1999 by the Jibon Tari (Boat of Life) floating hospital on Bangladesh’s vast rivers


Sir John Wilson sadly passed away in 1999 but IMPACT’s work today retains Sir John’s original spirit and ethos.


Thanks to Sir John Wilson, IMPACT led the way in the prevention of needless disability in the 1980s and will continue to do so in the future.