Friday, June 5, 2015

Competition Pits Tech Developers Against Disability Challenges


Paul Kotler and his mother, Melinda. (Credit: Ian Bush)
Paul Kotler and his mother, Melinda. (Credit: Ian Bush)
By KYW tech editor Ian Bush
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – There are just a few weeks of tinkering to go for some Philadelphia-area developers competing in a worldwide $100,000 challenge. Their goal is to come up with technology to empower people with disabilities.
Think of Paul Kotler as Steve Jobs when it comes to this contest: he’s the idea man.
“We need an app that senses our anxiety and provides calming feedback,” Kotler says. “Typing faster helps a lot. And being able to arrange it to help with some simple tasks as a learning tool.”
The 26-year-old from Downingtown has autism, and uses an iPad with text-to-speech software to help him communicate. But it’s not enough. It can’t keep up with him. Updates in apps and operating systems make for confusing changes. And it certainly can’t convey his passion for advocating for others with the neurodevelopmental disorder.
The app and hardware developers taking part in the Connect Ability Challenge look to him, as well as to three other exemplars — Jason DaSilva, a Brooklyn filmmaker with multiple sclerosis; Xian Horn, a Manhattan teacher, speaker, and writer with cerebral palsy; and Gus Chalkias, an assistive technology specialist and career counselor from Queens who is blind — to guide them toward solutions to the stumbling blocks they encounter.
AT&T and New York University’s Ability Lab are partnering on the three-month competition, which offers a $25,000 grand prize for the designer of a new app, wearable, or other technology judged best at improving the lives of people with disabilities. Some of the ideas for Paul include using stenographic theory in an app to help him translate his thoughts to text and speech more quickly, and a biosensor that could predict and prevent anxiety attacks.
“Communication is central to everything in life, to feeling part of a community, to working, to learning, to feeding strong relationships, and to independence,” Kotler says. “I want to do this because I understand how it is to feel trapped inside — wanting out, but with no way to express it. I want to get the word out that people with autism have a place and deserve to be understood and heard.”
“I’m very proud,” says Paul’s mom, Melinda. “He went through a lot to get where he is today, and he does feel that he needs to provide that same opportunity to other people in his situation, and unfortunately there are many others in his situation.”
Melinda is co-founder and executive director of TALK Institute and School in Newtown Square, which serves students with speech and language disorders. The organization is hosting an open house on June 3.
“Individuals with severe speech and language disorders and children with autism are often assumed to be cognitively impaired, but that’s an unfair judgment,” she explains. “They are intelligent. And it’s very important that children or any individual with autism be given the opportunity to have a system that allows them to communicate at their true level of communication.”
Competitors have been working since early April on their designs. The winners will be announced on July 26 — the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.


  1. That is an extremely smart written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and
    return to learn extra of your useful information. Thank you for the post. I will certainly return.

    online cash advance

  2. I love visiting your content for the reason that you often give us huge posts about computers and technology. Black Label No exceptional writeup humbling Job once again. I plan to put this internet site in my favorites list. I think I shall subscribe to the blog feed also Absolutely u got this 1 down right man.. Keeped me entertained for ages.

  3. Thank you a lot for your interesting text. I have been looking for such message for a very long time. Not everything is fully easy to understand to me, even though it is definitely interesting and worth reading. Pure Testo Xplode Hi webmaster – This is by far the most effective looking web-site I've seen. It was totally uncomplicated to navigate and it was effortless to look for that particulars I required. Wonderful layout and excellent content! Each web site should have that. Amazing job.

  4. seven days or ten days and you know and then you'll come to reassess where you at the end of that period ideal mention here though and that's and eating low crab for an extended period of time and there's been quite a few articles now I think there may even be some books and just how that can affect .

  5. I was   about   to   say   something   on this   topic.   But   now   i   can see   that   everything   on   this   topic is   very amazing and mind   blowing,   so   i   have   nothing to   say   here.   I   am   just   going   through   all   the   topics   and being   appreciated.   Thanks   for sharing.     

  6. Have you considered adding some relevant links to your article? I think it will really enhance viewers understanding.First of all, allow my family recognize a persons command during this matter.Alpha XTRM Even though this is certainly brand new , evertheless soon after registering your site, this intellect has exploded extensively. Allow all of us to take hold of ones rss to help keep in touch with at all probable messages Sincere understand but will pass it on to help admirers and my personal are living members

  7. Awesome and an highly interesting post to stumble at on this awesome website! Never input some feedback but now just could not resist Synagen IQ Thanks for posting this, it was very informative and helped me very much The design of this website looks awesome, not bad content either.

  8. Can I just say what a relief to find someone who actually knows what theyre talking about on the internet. Prolongz You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people need to read this and understand this side of the story. I cant believe youre not more popular because you definitely have the gift.
    I really dont understand why some people feel the need to be so argumentative.

  9. It is unusual for me to find something on the net thats as entertaining and fascinating as what youve got here. Cognimaxx XL Your page is lovely, your graphics are great, and whats more, you use reference that are relevant to what you are talking about. You are certainly one in a million, man!

  10. helpful for reader and get more information here, and i found this blog good infomation and sharing about all

    driver download


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.