Israeli Innovations for the Disabled Get Google Grants

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Technologies to improve accessibility include smartphone controlled by head movements, eye-controlled keyboard and Makeathon-in-a-box.

Two Israeli nonprofits are among 30 international winners of Impact Challenge grants from to promote technological innovations that will make the world more accessible for people with disabilities.

Beit Issie Shapiro in Ra’anana received two Impact Challenge grants.

It received $1,000,000 toward the joint development with Sesame Enable of a free solution that will allow people with limited mobility to operate smartphones with head movements. The beta product is now being distributed to individuals in Israel to test and gauge demand before a global rollout.

Beit Issie Shapiro also received $700,000 to develop Makeathon-in-a-box in conjunction with Tikkun Olam Makers (TOM), a project of the Tel Aviv-based Reut Group.

Makeathon-in-a-box is a template for community make-a-thons around the world that bring makers and people with disabilities together to build prototypes of new solutions for “orphan” accessibility challenges.

Prototypes that come from the make-a-thons will be open source, and featured solutions will be available for purchase on TOM’s website.

National health-support organization Ezer Mizion of Bnei Brak won a $400,000 grant from for its project with Israeli startup Click2speak to develop a keyboard controlled by eye tracking for people with limited mobility and high cognitive function.

In the United States alone, 7.5 million people have trouble using their voices, and many of them also have impaired motor skills, making effective communication a daily struggle. Click2Speak CTO Gal Sont knows this only too well, as he was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) in 2009.

Using eye movements, Sont programmed a user-friendly, affordable and multilingual on-screen virtual keyboard controlled by eye tracking and an eye-operated communication system. The Ezer Mizion Augmentative and Alternative Communication Loan Center provides eligible clients with the beta version.

The Impact Challenge grant will allow Ezer Mizion and Click2Speak to pilot the product, gather user feedback and improve the core technology.