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Google Pledges $20 Million To Help People With Disabilities

Google Impact Disabilities Challenge

On Tuesday, May 26, Google announced its pledge of $20 million towards its latest “Impact Challenge” aimed at improving world-wide accessibility for those with disabilities.

According to Engadget, the new Google Impact: Disabilities program aims to “build awareness, identify solutions and help create universal access for people with disabilities”. Google is encouraging those with disabilities and their families as well as inventors and innovators to work together for the common cause of enhancing accessibility for those afflicted. Google is already working with non-profit start-ups like Mission Arm, E-Nable and World Wide Hearing in hopes of finding more solutions and funding for various projects.

The World Wide Hearing has received more than $500,000 towards the development of hearing aids and will be working closely with Google to manufacture a smart-phone type of kit used for the diagnosis and treatment of hearing disabilities, Bidness ETC reported.

Google plans to distribute over $18 million in additional funding to other promising technologies which could help those living with a variety of disabilities.

The program is divided in two halves: one half consists of members of the general public, who are encouraged to submit “What If” questions as suggestions for accessibility issues they would like to see solved. The other half is made of start-ups and investors, who are encouraged to respond to Google’s Open Call, as reported by India Today.

More information can be found on Google’s official blog in a piece composed by Ms. J Fuller which tells the story of a woman whose life was changed by modern technology after having lost her eyesight at the age of 14. It talks about the opportunities and goals she was able to achieve, all thanks to the available technology.

Now a program manager at Google, she is following her passion, helping Chrome and Chrome OS teams make their products more accessible.

Ms. Fuller goes on to explain the aim of the project, as she discusses the struggles the disabled face on a day to day basis and their ideas on how to improve the situation.

Historically, people living with disabilities have relied on technologies that were often bulky, expensive, and limited to assisting with one or two specific tasks. But that’s beginning to change. Thanks to groups like Enable and World Wide Hearing, and with tools like Liftware, we’re starting to see the potential for technologies that can profoundly and affordably impact millions. But we’ll all get there sooner if we make it a team effort—which is why we’re launching Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities today. Together, we can create a better world, faster.

The program is up and running for everyone who wants to share their ideas, but it closes on September 30, 2015 at 2:00 pm, PDT. If you want to participate, you can share your “What If.” For non-profits and innovators, Google implores you to submit your solutions.

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