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Google Has A $20 Million Plan To Beat Disabilities Around The World

Google.org’s newest program will award $20 million to those with the most promising ideas for assistive technologies.

Google Has A $20 Million Plan To Beat Disabilities Around The World
[Photo: Flickr user J P Davidson]

Having redefined web search and nearly conquered the smartphone market, Google is looking to throw its money at an entirely new type of problem: physical disabilities.

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The Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities is a program out of the company’s Google.org charitable division that will dole out $20 million in grants to nonprofits for ideas that can help address physical impairments among the world’s population, according to NBC News.

To kick things off, Google is granting $600,000 to the Enable Community Foundation, which creates 3-D-printed prosthetics for children. The organization says it will use the money to “systematically collect feedback and data from users and testers” to improve its existing technologies, as well as “organize global design challenges.”

Google also gave $500,000 to World Wide Hearing, an organization focused on making hearing aids more accessible to people in the the developing world. The money will go toward developing a smartphone-based kit for diagnosing and treating hearing loss.

For Google, these two nonprofits are just the beginning. The company still has nearly $19 million to divide up among promising new assistive technologies.

In a company blog post, Google vows to renew its focus on the accessibility of its products.

But of course, we realize there’s always room to improve our products as well. We have a team committed to monitoring the accessibility of Google tools; and we provide engineering teams with training to incorporate accessibility principles into products and services. That doesn’t just mean improving existing Google tools, it means developing new ones as well.

About the author

John Paul Titlow is a writer at Fast Company focused on music and technology, among other things.

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