AT&T and NYU's "Connect Ability Challenge" aims to improve the lives of people with disabilities

Significant technological advancements in both hardware and software have already made the lives of people living with physical, social, emotional, and cognitive disabilities easier, but developers have been called to take this a step-further with the launch of the Connect Ability Challenge...

Hosted by New York University's ABILITY Lab and telecommunications-giant AT&T, the challenge will have developers competing for more than $100,000 in prizes to design software, wearable, and other technology solutions which can help the disabled at work, home, or at play.

The challenge is being launched to coincide with the twenty-year anniversary of the enactment of the milestone Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, and governmental activities.

Developers will have access to the expertise of New York University's dedicated research center into the development of adaptive and assistive technologies for people with disabilities. Alongside this, four people with diverse disabilities will also be available to discuss the challenges they face and what solutions would be useful to help them.

The four people available are;

  • Xian Horn, a teacher, speaker and writer from Manhattan who has cerebral palsy, which impacts her mobility.
  • Gus Chalkias, an assistive technology specialist, career counselor and college student from Queens who is blind.
  • Paul Kotler, a lecturer and student from Philadelphia who has autism. Kolter communicates using computer-assisted technology and struggles with impulse control.
  • Jason DaSilva, a filmmaker from Brooklyn who has Multiple Sclerosis. DaSilva uses a powered wheelchair and has limited upper- and lower-limb use.

“The Americans with Disabilities Act was landmark legislation aimed at enabling people with disabilities to participate more fully in our society. Twenty-five years later, as advances in technology have allowed us all to connect in ways we never imagined, we believe we can further remove barriers the disability community continues to encounter,” said Marissa Shorenstein, AT&T’s New York State President.

Prizes will be available across five categories;

  • People with sensory disabilities
  • People in need of mobility solutions
  • Social and emotional solutions
  • Solutions for people with communicative and cognitive disabilities
  • Solutions impacting policy and society

R. Luke DuBois, Associate Professor of Integrated Digital Media at the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, says: "The Connect Ability challenge rests on the idea that the developer community has a tremendous opportunity to leverage cutting-edge technology to improve the lives of persons living with disabilities."

The sponsored Hackathon, where developers will have the opportunity to interact with exemplars and develop their initial concepts, will be run Saturday April 18th - April 19th at NYU's Media and Games Network (MAGNET) center in Downtown Brooklyn's MetroTech Center.

For more information about the Connect Ability Challenge, head here.


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