Innovators with Disabilities to Pitch to Major Corporations

UCP’s Life Labs Holds Innovation Lab at USBLN National Conference

 

Washington, D.C. (September, 21, 2015) – United Cerebral Palsy has partnered with USBLN, a national nonprofit that helps businesses drive performance by leveraging disability inclusion, to host an Innovation Lab during USBLN’s 18th Annual National Conference & Biz2Biz Expo in Austin, TX at the end of September.

Innovation Lab, part of UCP’s Life Labs initiative. brings together innovators from all walks of life to compete on teams to dream up the next big idea for people with disabilities. Using human-centered principles of Universal Design, the teams work with mentors and facilitators to tackle problems ranging from mobility to communication in an effort to help improve the every day lives of people with disabilities.

At the conference, Innovation Lab teams will consist of participants of the Career Link Mentoring Program. The program is a collaboration of USBLN and Cornell University’s Employment and Disability Institute, which provides a 6-month career mentoring opportunity to college students and recent graduates with disabilities through linkages to business professionals from USBLN member companies.

“Rather than continuing to retrofit our world to accommodate people with disabilities, there’s no reason why we can’t encourage future designs to work for people of all abilities,” said Gabriel Forsythe Y Korzeniewicz, Life Labs Program Manager. “Past Innovation Lab events have included people with and without disabilities – from students to engineers, to physical therapists and people from a variety of backgrounds. We’re excited that this will be our first Lab in which all of the competitors have disabilities. We’re interested to see what kinds of unique ideas will come from this group.”

From September 27-29 the Innovation Lab teams will compete for one of two opportunities to pitch their ideas “Shark Tank”-style to major corporate players such as IBM, Sprint, Verizon, 3M and Mitsubishi – all part of USBLN’s membership of 5000 of the top companies in America. On September 30, each team’s idea will on display at the Bizt2iz Expo so conference attendees can vote on which two ideas to elevate to the level of a pitch to potential investors.

Innovation Lab Design Challenge Debuts

Intensive Two-Day Event from UCP’s Life Labs Coming to Chicago 

 

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) Life Labs initiative will bring an intensive, two-day design challenge called an Innovation Lab to Chicago May 19-20, 2015. Following successful events in London, Washington DC, and Sydney, Australia, the Innovation Lab (formerly called Enabled by Design-athon) brings together people from all walks of life under the principles of Universal Design to dream up the next big idea for people with and without disabilities.

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At each Innovation Lab, this diversity of talent from a variety of fields is coached to use human-centered Universal Design concepts to solve every day problems as part of a competitive yet collaborative design challenge for team prizes. Designers, engineers, inventors, makers and hackers as well as professionals and caregivers in the disability field are all encouraged to contribute their unique perspectives to the process.

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Innovation Lab Featured Speaker Paul Edlund – Microsoft Core Technologies Chief Technologist

The inaugural Innovation Lab scheduled for Chicago will take place at the Microsoft Technology Center and will be co-hosted by Smart Chicago. Smart Chicago is a civic organization devoted to improving lives in Chicago through technology by increasing access to the Internet, improving skills for using Internet, and developing meaningful products from data that measurably contribute to the quality of life of residents in the region and beyond.

“Here at Microsoft we are focused on improving the lives of citizens through technology,” said Shelley Stern Grach, Director of Civic Engagement at Microsoft. “The Innovation Lab focuses on the principles of design to provide opportunity and access to technology for diverse communities, and we’re excited to sMicrosoft Technology Center 2ee what the teams come up with.”

Teams will design and build prototypes or present plans that demonstrate how products can rapidly be created to better fit with people’s lives and needs, no matter what those need may be. UCP’s Life Labs is intent on creating a movement of accessibility for the masses so that mainstream products work for as many people as possible, including those with disabilities and older people. The Innovation Lab events are meant to challenge preconceptions of assistive equipment, showing how products can be personalized, purposeful and beautifully designed too.

“Rather than continuing to retrofit our world to accommodate people with disabilities, there’s no reason why we can’t design our world to work for people of all abilities,” said Marc Irlandez, Director of UCP’s Life Labs.

Registration is now open at http://ucpinnovationlab.org/ Space is limited.

 

Co-hosted by:

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Thanks to our sponsors:

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Design Innovation Program Wins Grant from Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation

United Cerebral Palsy’s Life Labs to Take Universal Design Thinking to Apple’s iTunes U

Washington, D.C. (January 20, 2015) – United Cerebral Palsy’s (UCP) Life Labs initiative was  awarded a significant grant from Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation. The grant will help fund a unique new approach to fostering innovation in design and technology for people with and without disabilities.

The project embraces the principles of Universal Design, which strives to create products and environments that are inherently usable and accessible to all people, including people with disabilities. It will deliver an open-source event toolkit and a full curriculum built around UCP Life Labs “maker fair” event concept and distributed through Apple’s iTunes U. UCP is one of less than 100 nonprofit partners – and the only disability organization – curated by iTunes U for educational materials offered to more than 250,000 students.

UCP’s Life Labs held a small-scale version of the event in Washington, D.C. in each of the past two years, bringing together people with disabilities, inventors, hackers and other innovators with and without disabilities. In a friendly competition, attendees developed ideas for revolutionary products and services using a Universal Design approach. With input from mentors with disabilities, team members collaborated to create workable solutions for everyday problems that they then pitched to judges in an atmosphere similar to the hit TV show “Shark Tank.”

“It’s time to take this to the next level,” said Marc Irlandez, director of UCP’s Life Labs. “We were looking for a way to bring the event to a greater number of people in more locations. Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation saw the possibilities and iTunes U was the perfect platform to help make sure that anyone who wants to learn how to make the world a better place through Universal Design can do so.”

“By providing opportunities for people with and without disabilities to work together with industry leaders in a creative way to design accessible consumer products, this project not only exposes students to careers in science and technology, but it also helps raise the awareness of the capabilities of people with disabilities,” said Kevin R. Webb, senior director, Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation. “Ultimately, it will help empower youth with disabilities to make changes for the better in society, which is the mission of our Foundation, and why Mitsubishi Electric is proud to provide support to help replicate and expand this innovative project.”

The initial goal of the materials to be made available via iTunes U is to introduce college-age students to the concept of Universal Design and inspire innovation. Eventually, other materials will be developed as part of a school’s STEM lessons that K-12 learners can adopt.

“It’s significant that a large national nonprofit such as UCP is able to work with a recognized brand as iTunes and be supported by such a well-known foundation as Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation,” said Stephen Bennett, president and CEO of UCP. “With this level of credibility and this unique learning platform, this project is bound to bridge the gap between designers and engineers and people with disabilities, to the collective benefit of us all.”

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About United Cerebral Palsy
United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) educates, advocates and provides support services through an affiliate network to ensure a life without limits for people with a broad range of disabilities and their families. Together with nearly 100 affiliates, UCP has a mission to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities by supporting more than 176,000 children and adults every day—one person at a time, one family at a time. UCP works to enact real change—to revolutionize care, raise standards of living and create opportunities—impacting the lives of millions living with disabilities. For more than 60 years, UCP has worked to ensure the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in every facet of society. Together, with parents and caregivers, UCP will continue to push for the social, legal and technological changes that increase accessibility and independence, allowing people with disabilities to dream their own dreams, for the next 60 years, and beyond. For more information, visit www.ucp.org.

About Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation

The Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation, based in the Washington, DC area, was established in 1991 by Mitsubishi Electric Corporation and the Mitsubishi Electric U.S. companies, which produce, sell and distribute a wide range of consumer, industrial, commercial and professional electronics products. The Foundation has contributed more than $13 million to organizations that are empowering young people with disabilities to lead more inclusive and productive lives.

To learn more, visit the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation’s website at www.MEAF.org.