Connect Ability Challenge Spurs 63 Innovative Solutions for People with Disabilities

By: Marissa Shorenstein
Jul 1, 2015 2:05 PM ET
Connect Ability Challenge Submissions Map

Connect Ability Challenge Spurs 63 Innovative Solutions for People with Disabil…

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 elevate the concept of true accessibility through innovation.

That’s why AT&T and the New York University ABILITY Lab launched the global Connect Ability Challenge to spur the development community to use off the shelf technologies to develop solutions to some of these ongoing obstacles.

We put out a call for smartphone, wearable and wireless tech geared toward people living with physical, social, emotional, and cognitive disabilities. We introduced developers to four amazing Exemplars who live with these types of challenges every day. This way, developers can create technologies that will work in the real world as people with disabilities will use them.

From the response we received, it’s clear we have tapped into something truly special. When submissions closed this week, we had received 63 technologies submitted by developers from 15 countries around the world, including developers from 16 U.S. states.

These solutions represent a long time effort by AT&T to empower people in their work, home and social lives. Earlier this month, AT&T was one of just 19 companies recognized for its disability inclusion practices by the American Association of People with Disabilities and the United State Business Leadership Network.

Our Corporate Accessibility Technology Office works with AT&T business units to help ensure that the principles of Universal Design are built in to new and redesigned products and services. They also work with the disability community, manufacturers and other business partners to improve the user experience for customers with disabilities. 

We’ve used some of our innovations – like our WATSON™ speech recognition technology – in new ways to make telecommunications technology accessible for people with disabilities.

The anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act puts a spotlight on how far we’ve come as a nation in making our cities more accessible as well as how much more work we can do. AT&T sees enormous potential in the power of technology to improve people’s lives and it’s clear from the results of the Connect Ability Challenge that the development community is on board as well.

Meanwhile, the Connect Ability Challenge is interested in your feedback on the solutions being put forth.  Between now and July 11, go to the Connect Ability Challenge website and participate in Public Voting. We’ll announce the recipient of the $2,500 Popular Choice Award and all of the Challenge winners on July 26, the 25th anniversary of the ADA.