Have you heard about the AbilityOne design challenge? It’s an assistive technology competition for both high school and collegiate level participants sponsored by AbilityOne, a single source non-profit employment agency that’s helped over 50,000 people with disabilities find jobs. This agency particularly helps that those with visual impairments and significant disabilities. A very cool thing indeed.
What the competition calls for are assistive devices created by the young people consulting with someone with a disability that helps the employee with a disability perform better at hers or his job; that is the sole stipulation. This competition has been ongoing for several years now and it always concludes at the end of February. Ramping up to the finals in Washington, D.C., the top five finalists have been announced.
The devices in the top five this year all have one thing in common — they help people with dexterity issues perform better on an assembly line. Sounds a bit blasé I know, but these types of jobs are stable and can bring in a decent income for many people with disabilities.
The first device included among the top five is a magnet assembly device dreamt up by students at Concord High School in Wilmington, Dela. What this device does is help people with disabilities more easily package magnets in plastic casings, eliminating the need for intense finger strength and dexterity. Check out the video for this device:
The next high school represented in this competition is Poolesville High School. This Maryland school, in fact, is represented by three of the finalists. One of this high school’s teams created the Die Cast Guide, aimed to help people with visual impairments on the job.
Additionally, Poolesville high school students created a sealing device, eliminating the need to peel and place stickers by hand. As a C6 quad, I love hearing about this stuff. These bright kids also came up with something called the Nexus, which helps with the production of water and electrical parts and O-rings.
After the competition comes to a close, the winning team gets $10,000, and some of the inventors even sell the rights of their device to a larger company, which I would love to see happen. This would take the price down significantly and make these inventions more widely available.
You just have to love that this invention competition exists in the first place. It’s a great idea to get high school students interested in assistive devices too. Things always can be improved with a fresh pair of eyes, and this is certainly the case with the devices created in the AbilityOne design challenge.
Learn more: AbilityOne design challenge
What assistive devices would you like to see invented?