Last spring, we kicked off our Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities with an open call to global nonprofits building transformative technologies for the billion people around the world with disabilities. In the past year, we’ve been amazed by the innovative ideas submitted by over 1,000+ organizations spanning 88 countries. Throughout this work, the Google.org team has had the opportunity to meet some incredible people who are working hard to create a world that works for everyone.
Through this Impact Challenge, we committed $20 Million in Google.org grants. We’ve shared a handful of the organizations we’re supporting already—and today we’re excited to share the full list of 30 winners. From employment to education, communication to mobility, each of our grantees is pushing innovation for people with disabilities forward.
The organizations we’re supporting all have big ideas for how technology can help create new solutions and each of their ideas has the potential to scale. Each organization has also committed to open sourcing their technology—which helps encourage and speed up innovation in a sector that has historically been siloed.
Meet some of our incredible grantees, from among the 12 EMEA winners, below. You can learn more about all 30 organizations working to improve mobility, communication, and independence for people living with disabilities at g.co/disabilities.
For more than half of wheelchair users, postural support devices (PSDs) are necessary to ensure their health and safety, while also making it easier for them to get around. In developing countries, low-income individuals in need of a wheelchair often don't have access to PSDs, which can severely impact their health and lead to a less independent lifestyle. With a $866,813 grant from Google.org, British organisation Motivation is using 3D printing to test designs for customizable PSDs—sharing designs that perform well with other service providers through an an open database.
The ProPortion Foundation, based in The Netherlands, is working with a $1 million grant from Google.org to expand the development and distribution of Majicast, a fully automated, easy-to-use device that produces high-quality prosthetic sockets in developing countries where access to prosthetics can be an enormous challenge.
Despite efforts to rate the accessibility of the world’s public places, barriers in data collection have made it difficult to map, making planning even the simplest of outings a challenge for people with disabilities. With a $939,262 grant, Germany’s Wheelmap, a project of Sozialhelden, is developing the common standards and technology backend needed to bring this data together and make it available for use by the many apps and websites that help people with disabilities route, plan, and enjoy exploring the world.
The range of accessibility challenges people face around the world make it nearly impossible to build cost-effective, customized solutions for each one—meaning many go unaddressed. With $700,000 from Google.org, Israeli organisation Beit Issie Shapiro is partnering with TOM to empower a growing army of makers to help their communities. Their “Makeathon-in-a-box” is a template for community Makeathons that bring makers and people with disabilities together to prototype new solutions for “orphan” accessibility challenges.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, it’s estimated that 85-95% of people with disabilities who need assistive technology do not have access to it -- largely because they don’t know of its existence. With a $717,728 grant from Google.org, the Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD) is working with with the University of Washington and AfriNEAD to establish AT-Info-Map, a system that will map the location and availability of assistive technology in Sub-Saharan Africa—providing critical information and increasing access to life-changing technology.
With a mission of making the world’s information accessible to everyone, accessibility is something we care deeply about at Google. The Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities set out to accelerate the use of technology to create meaningful change in the lives of the one billion people in the world with a disability. We’re eager to watch as all of the fund’s grantees, selected from over 1,000 submissions from around the world, build new solutions that will transform lives and make the world more accessible for all.