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AT&T, NYU announce winners for Connect Ability Challenge

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer attends Connect Ability Challenge award ceremony and speaks about the ADA 25th anniversary.Alejandro Alba/New York Daily News

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer attends Connect Ability Challenge award ceremony and speaks about the ADA 25th anniversary.

Just in time to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, AT&T and NYU have announced the winners of the Connect Ability Challenge.

On Monday, nine developers were awarded over $ 100,000 in prizes after completing a three-month software development competition focused on developing mobile and wireless technology that can help improve the lives of people with physical, social, emotional, and cognitive disabilities.

The Grand Prize winner of $ 25,000 was Kinesic Mouse, which is software that allows users to control their PC by using a 3D camera that detects facial expressions and head rotations.

Two other notable winners include Lola, which is an app that helps users train their brains by using humorous GIFs and personal challenges to strengthen their social and daily living skills; and Drumpants, a wearable device that gives a voice to users with limited mobility or difficulty speaking. The user simply has to tap the soft wearable buttons to trigger customizable phrases through an application on their phone.

“Some of these developers are moving quite quickly on their technologies that these will be able to benefit people with disabilities very soon,” Marissa Shorenstein, president of AT&T New York, told the Daily News. “With prize money we hope that helps them get to the next level of development, depending on where they are.”

Marcus Proell accepts the Grand Prize of $  25,000 and the Best Mobility Solution award of $  10,000 from AT&T and NYT’s Connect Ability ChallengeAlejandro Alba/New York Daily News

Marcus Proell accepts the Grand Prize of $ 25,000 and the Best Mobility Solution award of $ 10,000 from AT&T and NYT’s Connect Ability Challenge

Lola, a mobile app to strengthen social and daily living skills wins Best Social/Emotional solution award of $  10,000.Alejandro Alba/New York Daily News

Lola, a mobile app to strengthen social and daily living skills wins Best Social/Emotional solution award of $ 10,000.

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  • Marcus Proell accepts the Grand Prize of $  25,000 and the Best Mobility Solution award of $  10,000 from AT&T and NYT’s Connect Ability Challenge
  • Lola, a mobile app to strengthen social and daily living skills wins Best Social/Emotional solution award of $  10,000.

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The Connect Ability Challenge drew in 63 solutions from 15 countries around the world. The submissions were then judged by four exemplars-along with other AT&T executives-who have different disabilities.

The four exemplars are: Xian Horn, a teacher, speaker and writer from Manhattan who has cerebral palsy; Paul Kotler, a lecturer and student from Philadelphia who has autism. Kolter communicates using computer-assisted technology and struggles with impulse control; Jason DaSilva, a filmmaker from Brooklyn who has Multiple Sclerosis; and Gus Chalkias, who works as an assistive technology specialist, career counselor and college student from Queens and is blind.

Chalkias, along with the other exemplars, judged developers and their software on five functional categories, including addressing public policy for the disabled community. The categories are: people with sensory disabilities, people in need of mobility solutions, social and emotional solutions, solutions for people with communicative and cognitive disabilities and solutions impacting policy and society.

“One of the reasons, I think, that AT&T created this challenge to start a conversation so there is increased awareness,” Chalkias said. “At some we are going to reach a tipping point where there’s going to be people and company that are going be like, ‘Oh, yeah. We want to include this too.'”

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer was present at the award ceremony to help celebrate the winners and the 25th anniversary of the ADA.

“When President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act after Sen. Ted Kennedy championed the bill through Congress, he hoped it would ‘tear down the shameful walls of exclusion’ that kept disabled Americans from achieving their potential,” Schumer said. “What better way to honor the 25th Anniversary of the ADA than with this competition to remove, via technology, what barriers remain.”

Drumpants is a wearable device that gives a voice to users with limited mobility or difficulty speaking. The user simply has to tap the soft wearable buttons to trigger customizable phrases through an application on their phone.Alejandro Alba/New York Daily News

Drumpants is a wearable device that gives a voice to users with limited mobility or difficulty speaking. The user simply has to tap the soft wearable buttons to trigger customizable phrases through an application on their phone.

Kinesic Mouse is a software that allows users to control a PC completely hands-free by using a 3D camera that detects facial expressions and head rotations.Alejandro Alba/New York Daily News

Kinesic Mouse is a software that allows users to control a PC completely hands-free by using a 3D camera that detects facial expressions and head rotations.

Previous Next
  • Drumpants is a wearable device that gives a voice to users with limited mobility or difficulty speaking. The user simply has to tap the soft wearable buttons to trigger customizable phrases through an application on their phone.
  • Kinesic Mouse is a software that allows users to control a PC completely hands-free by using a 3D camera that detects facial expressions and head rotations.

Enlarge

Here’s the complete list of winners and the money prizes:

Grand Prize ($ 25,000) & Best Mobility Solution ($ 10,000): Kinesic Mouse – A software that allows users to control a PC completely hands-free by using a 3D camera that detects facial expressions and head rotations.

Best Solution for People with Sensory Disabilities ($ 10,000): Ava (Transcense) – A mobile app that helps people with hearing disabilities by tracking conversations in the surrounding area and translating the sound into text in real time.

Best Social/Emotional Solution ($ 10,000): LOLA – A mobile app that helps users train their brains by using humorous GIFs and personal challenges to strengthen their social and daily living skills.

Best Solution for people with Communicative and Cognitive Disabilities ($ 10,000): Drumpants (Taps) – A wearable device that gives a voice to users with limited mobility or difficulty speaking. The user simply has to tap the soft wearable buttons to trigger customizable phrases through an application on their phone.

Best Solution Impacting Policy and Society ($ 10,000): Enlight – A device that uses iBeacon technology to allow people with vision disabilities to scan surrounding locations with their smartphone and be notified of the area.

Best Practices Collaboration Award ($ 5,000): MySupport – A platform that offers people with disabilities tools to make their lives easier and more independent.

Best Practices Caregiver Award ($ 5,000): InstaAid – An app that allows people to call for help quickly regardless of limitations.

Best Practices Universal Design Award ($ 5,000): Braci – An app that detects sounds and pushes notifications to users’ smart devices.

Large Organization Recognition Award (Non-Monetary): AccessiblePeakMeter – A plug-in device that allows visually impaired audio engineers to access peak level meters using real-time sonification.

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Nation / World – NY Daily News

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