Google announced this Tuesday that it’ll be allocating $20 million in funding for technologies aimed at improving the lives of disabled individuals. This is the latest effort of Google Impact Challenge, a philanthropic arm of the company that encourages people to voice their opinions on how the tech giant should solve issues. Winners generally receive $500,000 grants, but Google Impact: Disabilities is taking the project to the next level with a $20 million dollar fund.
Disabilities, which affect one billion people across the planet, can shun people from society or prevent them from working. But Google thinks technology can present a remedy for the disabled.
Google pointed to one of their own disabled employees, Lauren Palmaro, to show how technology can help disabled people. Palmaro became legally blind at the age of 14, making her dependent on others to read for her. But with technologies like screen readers, which explains what’s on a computer screen through speech, Palmaro gained more independence. She now works with Googles’s Chrome OS team, helping them make the operating system more accessible to the blind.
Funded projects include Japanese robotic prosthetics firm Mission Arm, World Wide Hearing, which develops inexpensive devices to test for hearing loss in the third world, and E-Nable, a company using 3D printing to more affordably fit people with prosthetics.
Advisers to the Google Impact program include innovators like Temple Grandin, who, despite being autistic, famously designed a more humane slaughterhouse for cows.
Google is interested in hearing your ideas on how Google Impact’s project can be improved through its ‘What If’ form. You can submit your ‘What If’ by clicking here.