Holy crap, a lot of people actually give a shit about improving our community.
That is what I walked away with on Tuesday when attending the 2017 Accessibility Innovation Showcase (part of the Invictus Games event) as well as the CivicTech meetup group back to back. I was amazed by the level of thought and compassion for people just to help out their fellow neighbour.
Firstly, the accessibility conference was an inspiring look at how local healthcare startups are engineering ideas to help improve the quality of life for those who need the most help. It featured everything from exoskeletons that help people regain mobility to glasses that restore sight for the clinically blind.
Some projects were more nuanced, such as using the Internet of Things to empower people with limited motor control to do things many of us would find trivial. Examples of a few challenging tasks that demographic faces daily include everything from turning on a light switch or adjusting hospital bed controls. These solutions help to automate and enable tasks that would normally require the personal assistance of another to complete.
It was inspiring to see all the concepts made real. I know that if something happened to me, I would want others to be as considerate and respectful of my condition.
Accessibility is design for everyone. Designing for the extremes means better days for all. As I walked between the booths, it was great to meet all the people bringing the future forward. We are truly in an amazing time where technological advancement is only limited by our imaginations.
Later that evening, I also had the opportunity to check out CivicTech, a great group of people donating time to help solve for common complaints about government services. Anyone can attend, start and join a project group here to expedite solutions for civic-related problems.
Projects ranged from solving the bike parking shortage to making the federal budget easier for anyone to understand. As much as the government tries to modernize, it is typically a slow-moving beast. They are saddled with rules and regulations that make the speed of innovation prohibitive. That’s all the more reason why they need people on the outside who are willing to collaborate so everyone can move forward together at a faster pace.
They meet every Tuesday, have pizza, and just hack the government – in a good way!
It’s always great to see what can be solved with a little empathy and action. Seeing all the gifts of time, energy, and resources restores my faith in humanity. None of our problems can be solved overnight but I am certain that if we jump right in, we can do it together.
Just have to start.