Bruce McMahan Expands His Service to the Disabled
David Bruce McMahan’s work in the rehabilitation field gained attention, and in 1985 he was named to the National Advisory Board on Technology and the Disabled. This was part of President Reagan’s “Decade of the Disabled” announced in 1983.
The committee received a letter from Den Pufang, the son of Den Xiaping, the paramount leader of China. Deng Xiaping was in exile when the Red Guard tried to kill his son by throwing him from the window, paralyzing him from the waist down. When Deng Xiaping came back into power, he appointed his son to lead an organization to help China’s disabled.
Deng Pufang had seen an exhibit at a trade show about the application of technology to the needs of handicapped people. Bruce McMahan responded to the letter by approaching the Chinese ambassador’s office in Washington, D.C., with a proposal for a National Cristina Foundation model for China, using technology from the U.S. The ambassador’s assistants liked his proposal and translated it into Chinese for him. Within ten days McMahan was invited to China.
McMahan Takes NCF to China
In 1986, an eleven-member team of NCF’s board of directors and a few other specialists made their first trip to China, with computers, adaptive technology for the handicapped, and a power generator. They spent three weeks there manning a demonstration center.
Bruce McMahan asked John Scully, then president of Apple, to donate a hundred Apple IIes. China had very few mainstream computers in the 1980s. McMahan’s donated computers were the first ever brought into China for the benefit of anyone with a disability.
McMahan’s Years In China
McMahan and Yvette Marrin made numerous trips to China from 1986 on, taking educators and trainers with them. NCF introduced educational software to students with disabilities and aided in the development of Chinese voice synthesizers for the blind.
McMahan and NCF made an agreement in 1986 with the China Disabled Persons Federation to bring computer technology to students with disabilities in Beijing and Baoji. Companion schools for the pilot program in Beijing were set up in the United States.
McMahan was appointed Honorary Technical Advisor to the China Fund for the Handicapped Chaired by Deng Pufong. Deng Pufong’s organization, which started out with about 90 people, was soon helping tens of thousands.
McMahan’s Entrepeneurship in China
Bruce McMahan became very well known in Chinese business and political circles. He had hosted Deng Pufang on a trip to America. Over time, his good intentions and the obvious benefits of his program won most Chinese over. The former mayor of Shanghai induced him to make his first investment in China.
McMahan’s interest in China became far reaching. He was the Initiator and Co-Managing Underwriter of a $350 million initial public offering of Shandong Huaneng Power Development Co. Ltd., the first directly-listed Chinese company to reach the New York Stock Exchange. He has served for over 20 years on the Board of Directors and various other posts with The National Committee on United States – China Relations.
After China, NCF expanded its mission to Ireland, Costa Rica, Poland, Lebanon, Brazil and other places where the need was greatest.