The technology that enables people with disabilities to lead independent and fulfilling lives is rapidly improving, but not quite fast enough, according to Google.
That’s why the global tech giant is investing $20 million in grants for nonprofits that are working on groundbreaking solutions.
The company on Tuesday introduced the Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities, a competition that invites innovators to pitch their ideas on how to make the world more accessible for people with disabilities. That could involve a system that helps people with mobility issues get from place-to-place more seamlessly, or developing an app that lists the closest accessible restrooms, according to the site.
It will then choose the best concepts and help bring them to scale.
A winning innovation could be something a simple as Liftware, a stabilizing handle that attaches to utensils so that people with hand tremors can eat with ease, according to the Google blog post.
To start, Google has already committed to supporting two cutting edge nonprofits, the Enable Community and World Wide Hearing.
Enable Community matches people who need prosthetics with volunteers who use 3-D printers to develop the artificial limbs for free. It’s getting a $600,000 grant to improve design, distribution and delivery.
With a $500,000 grant, World Wide Hearing will work on developing a prototype for a low-cost tool kit -- which uses smartphone technology -- to test hearing loss, a process that typically requires pricey and cumbersome equipment.
Google has also committed to investing in improving its own products and services to make them more accessible for people with disabilities.
“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,” Jaqueline Fuller, director of Google.org, wrote in a blog post. “But we’ll all get there sooner if we make it a team effort.”
CLARIFICATION: This post was updated to clarify the details of the Google challenge