Google announced their Disability initiative last May and quickly received more than 1,000 applications from 88 countries. Google.org, the company’s charitable division, has chosen 30 organizations to receive grants through the Google Impact Challenge Disabilities initiative. Google will begin distributing the funds to the chosen groups located in 13 different countries. The company believes they have chosen the right groups that will provide useful and beneficial opportunities and products to the disabled community.
The chosen organizations have provided Google with crucial ideas for how technology can help create new solutions for disabled people. According to Brigitte Hoyer Gosselink, the leader for the Google.org initiative, “Each chosen organization has committed to open sourcing their technology.” This will help speed up innovation in a sector that has been dormant.
Google has revealed that the largest grant amount of $1.4 million has been awarded to The Arc. This organization created an online tool to help people with disabilities locate assistive technologies and apps that correspond to their profile. This technological assistance will bring opportunities and assistance to the people in the disabled community instead of them having to go search for it.
The Dan Marino Foundation will also receive a grant from Google.org. The foundation already has a state of the art education campus, library, adaptive aquatics and an outpatient center that offers a sensory gym, therapy and comprehensive medical devices for children and adults with autism. The Dan Marino Foundation will use the grant to develop an interactive job training program for people with autism. It will also create SMS messaging to improve evaluation and monitoring for children with developmental disabilities.
Google awarded $1.125 million to the Center for Discovery. This will go toward the continued development for a manual wheelchair add-on that will convert it into a powered wheelchair. This technological invention has the ability to increase mobility for those who can’t afford a state of the art power wheelchair.
Google awarded other nonprofits that are in the process of developing a variety of inventions to help people with disabilities, including smart glasses and 3-D printed prosthetics. Gosselink believes the new inventions will help reach the disability community since only 10 percent of people with disabilities have access to the assistive devices they require on a daily basis.
Gosselink was quick to point out that more than a billion people have a disability. In the United States, 50 to 70 percent are unemployed. In other countries, that number rises to 80 percent or higher. Nonprofit organizations are eager to reach these people to help enrich their lives. Google.org stands behind the inventions which are aimed towards assisting disabled people with easier communication, education, work opportunities and moving to a new home.
Google is focused on using technology to develop solutions for a wide range of accessibility challenges. This initiative encourages independence and expands opportunity on a global scale. The team at Google.org is eager to see the results of each investment and how it positively affects the disabled community in the future.