The World Health Organization estimates 1 billion people across the world live with disabilities, and Google's philanthropy division, Google.org, just pledged $20 million to help improve their situations. The money is spread across 29 programs working on disability technologies -- the average amount they'll each receive is $750,000, with six of the grant winners getting more than $1 million, Wired reports.
The programs fall into five categories of disabilities -- hearing, mobility, cognitive, vision and communication -- and the winning programs tackle a variety of issues. Here are a few examples:
- My Human Kit connects people who need prosthetics with low-cost 3D-printed solutions.
- The Center for Discovery is building an open-source add-on that turns any manual wheelchair into a power chair.
- Perkins School for the Blind wants to roll out more detailed GPS instructions to ensure the visually impaired don't get left behind when independently navigating the real world.
- The Dan Marino Foundation is developing a digital, interactive system to help young people on the autism spectrum train for job interviews.
- The Leprosy Mission Trust India is making low-cost custom footwear that enables people with leprosy to maintain their ability to walk.
In related accessibility news, Google recently rolled out the beta for its Voice Access system, which allows users to navigate their phones via voice commands.