Google Invests in $20M in Nonprofit Technology to Improve the Lives of Disabled Persons

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By Nyshita talluri (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

April 12, 2016; Wired

Google.org is giving out $20 million in grants to thirty select nonprofits taking innovative approaches to how technology can help aid the world’s one billion disabled individuals. Many of these organizations are creating universal and affordable technologies that can help people with disabilities across the globe.

Six grantees were given more than $1 million apiece. The projects selected are working to solve problems for disabled people in five main categories:

  • Education
  • Communication
  • Mobility
  • Independence
  • Employment

One chosen nonprofit, Enabling the Future, links individuals who need prosthetics with volunteers working with 3-D printers to design, print, assemble, and fit them at no charge. World Wide Hearing was granted support from Google.org to develop an affordable tool for health workers to screen for hearing loss anywhere in the world with smartphone technology.

Another grantee, the Center for Discovery, is currently developing an open-source power add-on that converts any manual wheelchair into a power-chair. Wayfindr is creating technology that delivers audio-based directions to smartphones for visually impaired users.

Google.org explained to Wired that it has used digital data to come to its decision to make disabilities its cause. While some multi-billionaire givers like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates have a personal agenda when giving out their wealth, which could be seen as dangerous for America’s democratic process, Google sets a great precedent in how large corporations can use data-driven research to support their causes.—Aine Creedon