AT&T NYU Connect Ability Challenge

Anita Perr, clinical associate professor of occupational therapy and a member of the ABILITY Lab, joined the Lab with AT&T to host a hackathon that kicked off the AT&T NYU Connect Ability Challenge. Perr is also a judge for the event. The challenge is a three-month global $100,000 software competition that leverages mobile technology to improve the lives of people living with disabilities. Teams will build technology prototypes that will help improve life for people with disabilities. By matching people with the power to develop influential technology and client users with disabilities, the challenge hopes to facilitate the development of user-centered technology that can be used by a number of people quickly.

The challenge has been open for submissions since April 6 and will remain open until June 24. It’s open to individuals, teams and organization with more than 50 employees. Perr has expressed her excitement of working with AT&T and the ABILITY Lab’s participation in the event. “The Challenge makes a strong statement on inclusion by encouraging and expecting developers to work with technology users in their design process,” Perr said in a RESNA article.

AT&T has an ongoing relationship with NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering. This year’s focus on assistive technology is timely, as it coincides with the 25th anniversary of the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The four exemplars come from a variety of backgrounds. Gus Chalkias, who teaches computer access at Baruch College’s Computer Center for Visually Impaired People, is blind and is interested in navigation or wayfinding technology and technology to ease participation in recreational activities. Xian Horn, who teaches and is a public speaker, has cerebral palsy and is interested in hands-free mobile technologies with an emphasis on communication apps, such as social media, texting, email, etc. Paul Kotler, who is a student, blogger, advocate, and educator, has autism and uses a tablet and keyboard to write. He is interested in non-verbal communication solutions, easy document saving and retrieval. He is also interested in technology to monitor stress and anxiety to offer relief. Jason DaSilva, who is a filmmaker, has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair. He is interested in hands-free solutions, detailed wheelchair accessibility information, such as door width, accessible business entrances, locations of elevators, and accessible restrooms.

The winners of the competition will be honored during a celebration in late July 2015. Click to learn more about the NYU ABILITY Lab, a collaborative research and education space co-directed by NYU Steinhardt’s Department of Occupational Therapy, NYU Tisch’s ITP, and NYU Poly’s Integrated Digital Media Program.