The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed 25 years ago this year. To mark the occasion, AT&T is organizing designers, coders, advocates and hackers of all sorts to come to NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering this weekend and come up with novel approaches to use technology to make life more workable for people with disabilities.
It’s called the Connect Ability Challenge hackathon.
$10,000 in prizes are available for the best creations at the hackathon. It’s free to participate.
“The Americans with Disabilities Act was landmark legislation aimed at enabling people with disabilities to participate more fully in our society,” Marissa Shorenstein, president of AT&T New York, said in a release. “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.”
It would have been hard to imagine, when the act was passed, that someday tiny computers could read text aloud and identify money for people with visual impairments, but those sorts of solutions are very much a reality and readily available now. Yet, we all know that technological solutions tend to be devised for the problems of technologists. That’s one reason why there has been such a push to get more kinds of people involved in the making of technology — so they can solve problems that don’t come up in the daily life of today’s engineers.
The hackathon will take place at Metrotech’s NYU ABILITY Lab where students and NYU faculty work on adaptive and assistive technology.
“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,” NYU faculty member R. Luke Dubois said in a release.
People with disabilities who have made significant strides will be on hand to provide input and insights to participating teams. Here’s testimony from one of them, Xian Horn, a speaker and blogger: