In honor of the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, AT&T*, Plano-based LaunchAbility and Dallas-based Tech Wildcatters are working with the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) and New York University’s ABILITY Lab to find ways technology can enhance the lives of people with physical, social, emotional, and cognitive disabilities. To do this, they’re challenging technology developers in North Texas to take part in the first-ever Connect Ability tech innovation challenge.

Developers are invited to design software, wearables and other technology solutions as part of this virtual challenge aimed at enhancing the lives of people with disabilities. A total of $100,000 in prizes will be awarded to winning developer teams on July 26th.

Today, LaunchAbility, a local non-profit committed to empowering adults with developmental disabilities so that they can achieve their maximum potential and lead fulfilling lives within our community, is co-hosting a workshop/developer day to give developers and members of the disability community a way to become more familiar with the challenge, build teams and begin creating solutions.

The Connect Ability Challenge is encouraging developers to actively engage the disability community. A group of volunteers, called “Exemplars,” have agreed to talk with developers about problems they face and provide feedback and insight on their various projects. Today’s event in Dallas is just one in a series of Collaboration Sessions AT&T and RESNA will host across the country to give developers a chance to meet and interact with local Exemplars. Developers will be able to speak with Exemplars confidentially, in virtual and in-person meetings. This will give developers insight and feedback on their designs before the June 24th submission deadline.

“The ADA was landmark legislation that helped people with disabilities participate more fully in our society. Now, advances in technology can remove barriers in ways we never before imagined,” said Dave Nichols, President, AT&T Texas. “AT&T is excited to partner with LaunchAbility to attract innovators from Texas and across the country. We look forward to seeing them harness their creativity and skills to create innovative and life-changing solutions.”

“AT&T has a corporate culture of social responsibility and engagement that flows down to the individual level,” stated Kathryn Parsons, CEO of LaunchAbility. “Every single person I meet from the organization represents the company with energy and smart-thinking that they apply to their work with passion and success. The Connect Ability Challenge embodies this philosophy to create technology that serves everyone—regardless and inclusive of challenges and disabilities. At LaunchAbility we say that we acknowledge disAbilities, but emphasize possibilities, and are proud to work with AT&T to serve the global community.”

The event was a natural for Tech Wildcatters, recently named one of the top startup accelerators in the United States.

“At Tech Wildcatters, we are laser-focused on innovation,” said Clarisa Lindenmeyer, VP of Corporate Affairs & PR for Tech Wildcatters. “We know innovation can change lives and welcome the opportunity today to partner with LaunchAbility, AT&T, and developers and local Exemplars to create conversations that can lead to new solutions that empower people.”

ChallengePost is powering the challenge. A panel of experts from the engineering, technology and disability community has agreed to judge the submissions, which are due at 5:00 pm on June 24.

Connect Ability Challenge winners will be announced July 26, on the 25th Anniversary of the ADA. For more information or to register, visit http://connectability.challengepost.com/. Follow the latest news on Twitter using the hashtag #ConnectAbility.

*AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.


Raquel Vincent

Raquel Vincent is a Dallas-based creative with a knack for words and inspired creative direction. When she's not working, you can find Raquel hitting a gallery opening, working on her book, or thrifting for unforgettable vintage finds. She loves music festivals, tacos, and her rescue cat Berlioz.