Crowdsourcing and crowdfunding aren’t just for companies, artists, or techies who are trying to bring their projects and ideas to life. They can have a deep social impact and drive innovation that changes lives. Here are five examples of what crowdsourcing and crowdfunding can do, and have done, for the handicapped and disabled.
While innovation is an abstract concept, sometimes an impending need can make it personal, as is the case with te next two projects:
Grow a New Eye
In 2005, Tanya Marie Vlach was involved in a near-fatal car crash and lost her left eye. In 2011 she turned to the Kickstarter community to raise funds for a new artificial eye. The concept seemed brought out of a science-fiction movie: a prosthetic eye with a miniature camera installed to replace the field of vision she lost in the car accident. The crowdfunding campaign was a success. The new eye is currently in development.
Reid Davenport is a senior at George Washington University who is majoring in journalism and mass communication; he also suffers from cerebral palsy and uses an electric wheelchair to move around. He had the dream to study in Italy, and, despite his acceptance into a studying abroad program, he was told that he should not go because European cities aren’t wheelchair friendly. It was then that Reid decided to create the Wheelchair Diaries, a series of documentaries where he would explore the problem and raise awareness for those with mobility problems. The project was successfully funded by the Kickstarter community.
There are other situations where the need for an invention is more obvious, and innovation is spurred on by someone rising to the challenge as is the case with these next two projects:
Keyglove Wearable Input Device
The Keyglove is a project in development by Jeff Rowberg, and its concept is very simple: it is a glove that replaces both the keyboard and mouse. This means that people using it can both write and move the cursor using only one hand. The Keyglove can be very practical in many situations but it can be really useful for people with reduced mobility since they don’t have to use both their hands when performing tasks at a computer.The Keyglove was successfully funded on Kickstarter and is currently undergoing development. Public availability is hoped to be a reality as soon as possible.
The Voting Challenge
The voting challenge is a brainstorming discussion happening at Open Ideo. The idea behind it is quite simple: “How might we design an accessible election experience for everyone?” The answer will help voters with disabilities, limited mobility and language difficulties finding their way into the voting booths and exercising their voting rights with privacy and independence. The discussion is still going on and several interesting projects and ideas have been suggested by the crowd.
In all four cases, you can see the power of crowdfunding as a way to expedite the process of inventors and entrepreneurs breaking down the walls of human limitations.