Monday, June 12, 2017

12-year-old invents app to help people with disabilities find accessible businesses

Alexander Knoll may be 12-years-old, but his father says he has an old soul. A few years ago, Alex watched a man in a wheelchair struggle to open a store's front door. The man's situation bothered him and got him wondering - what if that man had been able to search ahead of time for a store that had better accessibility? Would he have taken his business elsewhere?

Like most inventors, Alex identified a need and is working to satisfy it. His idea was simple - create an app which acts as a clearinghouse for information needed by people with disabilities when they access their community. Availability of braille menus, ramps, automatic doors, accessible restrooms, wheelchair-friendly restaurant seating, etc. would all be found within the app, a one-stop site for disability-friendly businesses.

The idea has won awards sponsored by the Discovery Channel and 3M, and has garnered Alex invitations to speak at national and international tech symposiums. He and his Ability App have been featured on TV programs, including TD Jakes, NBC Nightly News, and Ellen Degeneres. Alex is raising money on a GoFundMe page to finish the app development and marketing, which should be helped along by Ellen's contribution of $25,000.

An idea filled with compassion from the heart of a 12-year-old. We adults have much to learn.

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