Google Impact Challenge Seeks to Make Technology More Accessible for Everyone


According to statistics from the World Health Organization, over one billion people on Earth have some form of disability. If you have a disability, know or work with someone with a disability, the reality you face every day is one of limited accessibility and opportunity. And sometimes, barriers for people with disabilities exist simply due to economic hardship—the resources are there, but the money is not.

Google is seeking to change this situation by funding a 20 million dollar grant for its Impact Challenge, in the hopes of bridging the gap between prevailing technologies and the people who need them, but may not be able to afford them.

The company is teaming up with innovators in the field, bringing together corporations and non-profits to make their products for people with disabilities more efficient and affordable. Google, through its grant, has helped fund Mission ARM, a Japanese non-profit that helps people with disabilities get prosthetic arms, to work with Exiii, a company that makes some of the world’s most innovative robotic arms and legs.  According to the Impact Challenge website, Exiii’s 3D printing technology gives the company more flexibility in the manufacturing process, thus making the products more affordable, and replacement parts easier to create quickly. This savings makes it easier for people with disabilities—who are often on a limited income—more able to afford to own them.

Google’s also creating their own technology as well to help make accessibility universal. Liftware is a mechanical utensil designed to help counter the hand tremors that people with Parkinson’s may have, thus making the simple, everyday act of eating normalized. This small, compact utensil, which comes in a soup spoon, spoon, and fork options, helps people with hand tremors eat confidently and independently.

In an age where technology is advancing daily and improving the lives of literally billions of people, it behooves all of us to embrace initiatives that can make these improvements accessible to everyone, no matter where they live, or their economic status.

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