Lieberman, Ryan & Forrest, L.L.C.
Somerset County
Hunterdon County

Could the Internet solve the world's toughest disability issues?

What do you think is the most serious issue facing people with disabilities worldwide? There may be any number of answers, but one important aspect of the question is this: it asks what you think. Since you're reading a legal blog about injuries, there's a good chance you have experience living with a disability. Isn't it time you were the one being asked to set priorities? 

Even though the U.S. is among the wealthiest nations and has a number of protective laws in place, people with disabilities don't live lives of magic and rainbows here. Despite anti-discrimination laws, people with disabilities get hired less often than their non-disabled peers -- assuming they can work at all. Students with disabilities face an enormous achievement gap, too.

It's no bed of roses in the U.S., but it could be worse. Much worse. Globally, people with disabilities face challenges to their independence ranging from poor medical care to lack of access to appropriate prosthetics and assistive technology.

There are great non-profits out there who do fantastic work. For example, the Enable Community Foundation has the specifications for a variety of small prosthetics to be produced on a 3D printer. Enable finds people in the international community who need them, and then hooks them up with Americans who own 3D printers they're willing to put to good use. Another, World Wide Hearing, provides hearing aids and plans to create a kit that allows hearing tests to be provided cheaply using smartphone technology.

If you got a grant to solve a disability issue, what would you do?

That's a serious question. The Enable Community Foundation and World Wide Hearing just received grants from as part of an initiative called "The Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities."

Google is taking on the challenge of bringing smart technology to people with disabilities worldwide. At home, it plans to ensure its own products are fully accessible, as well as to create products specifically for people with limitations technology could address.

The Google Impact Challenge is seeking input from people living with disabilities, their advocates and nonprofits, on what would help most in terms of independence and access. They're offering up to $20 million in grants to put those ideas into practice.

It's time to ask people with experience living with disabilities for help. Have a good idea? Now could be your moment.

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