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#include<>’s Assistive Technology Hackathon

The #include<a-thon> is an annual event organized by Include Girls, a non-profit organization led by students with the main goal of providing professional, educational, and social support to female students, beginners in Computer Science, and high schoolers potentially interested in pursuing a career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

This year, the #include<a-thon> took place at Engine-4 Bayamón, on October 22nd and 23rd of 2016. We’ve celebrated the #include<a-thon> twice since 2015 and we’ve seen incredible results.

Since the beginning, our goal with the #include<a-thon> was to produce a hackathon evenly balanced in gender while increasing the quality of the projects and taking down the stereotypes that exist mostly in our field.

Following one of #include<girls> main goals, which is to be inclusive of underrepresented communities in STEM, we decided to choose Assistive Technology as our theme for this year’s hackathon.

Theme: Assistive Technology

Assistive technology (AT) is any item, piece of equipment, software program, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of people with disabilities. Assistive technology helps people who have difficulty speaking, writing, seeing, hearing, among other things. Different disabilities require different assistive technologies.

The Puerto Rico Assistive Technology Program (PRATP) co-organized the event by helping us shape the categories around Assistive Technology for the competition. PRATP is the entity in Puerto Rico that has the responsibility of promoting changes in the public and private sectors, to increase accessibility in technology to people with disabilities. Dr. Mauricio Lizama,who leads the Technology Design and Development Unit at the PRATP, gave a presentation at the #include<a-thon> on “high technology at low cost” aimed at creating high quality and priority technologies that are real and accessible to those in special need.

Dr. Lizama has developed hundreds of teams, received the Merck Award for Innovation in Science and Engineering and has received six patents for technology rehabilitation engineering granted by the Government of the United States. Based on his designs, Dr. Lizama has trained hundreds of people all over the world.

We had 3 different categories revolving around Accessibility and Assistive Technologies.

Categories

  • Accessibility to Control interfaces — Any type of software that can provide control of an electronic device, preferably a computer or laptop.
  • Sensory impairment — Any solution that helps assist if one of the senses; sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste and spatial awareness, is no longer performing at its best.
  • Personal Security (PERS) — Also know as a Medical Emergency Response System, it allows the user to call for help in case of an emergency accounting for users with difficulties pushing buttons.

Venue: Engine-4 

Engine-4 is a co-working space in Puerto Rico with over 24,000 sq. ft. of mixed-used facilities. It’s a great place to work in and host events like the #include<a-thon>. The team at Engine-4 was an invaluable resource and enabler since we first started organizing the event, and have always been a huge supporter of our organization as a whole. We couldn’t be more grateful for all of their support!

Results

We spent the weekend developing ideas and using technology to increase accessibility for people with a diverse set of capacities and capabilities.

We welcomed around 170 attendees throughout the event. We had over 104 participants, of which around 31% of them were women and 5% of them have some sort of disability.

As a result, we ended up with 17 project submissions that went from a mobile application to allow people with a specific version of colorblindness called daltonism to interact with their surroundings, to a platform that simplifies communication using an interface controlled by voice and minimal movements.

Official Winners 

1st, 2nd and 3rd place.
  • 1st place: Picta — A mobile application for people who suffer daltonism. Team: Fabián Vélez and Carlos Castro.
  • 2nd place: Use morse code to control the mouse cursor and the keyboard. Team: Isaac Ortiz and Humberto Ortiz.
  • 3rd place: Dictio — A mobile application with different kinds of input (by voice recognition or eye tracking) to control an interface that facilitates communication. Team: Nelson Alemar, Tahiri Fuentes, Israel Figueroa and Alexander Guzmán.

Other winners include:

  • Oracle Challenge: A webpage to translate morse code to letters. Team: Bryan Emanuel
  • Airbnb Challenge: A Chrome extension to translate voice to sign language (ASL). Team: Ricardo Mercado y Eric Santos
Special Challenges winners. From left to right, Airbnb challenge winners and Oracle challenge winner.

Sponsors

We credit much of the success of this event to our sponsors, who lended their name and financial support to the event.

Local companies like Evertec and Oracle Academy supported the event not only monetarily but by offering workshops about Big Data and the Internet of Things. A Job Fair was also organized at the beginning of the event, in where companies like Google, Piloto Labs & Codetrotters, Akcelita, NCWiT — Technolochicas, Oracle, Evertec and CEG Soft networked with the attendees before watching them code during the hackathon. Other companies that also supported us were FusionWorks, Airbnb, The Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research TRUST and .tech Domains.

Volunteers, Staff, Judges and Mentors 

See more

What’s next

We’re truly inspired and beyond grateful for all of your support! We look forward to continue our path with you, to keep growing as a more inclusive community for all of us in STEM.

You can know more about our next events on our Facebook page and join us on Slack to continue the conversation(s)!: https://includegirls.slack.com

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