People on the peak of a mountain

Some of these challenges are for volunteers and others have funding or prizes associated with them. All are intended to inspire and guide people who would like to work on key issues.

The challenges are particularly good for student projects, either as individuals or as teams. All are needed and provide an opportunity to carry our academic work that will really mean something if you are successful.

Contribute to the MasterList

The MasterList contains information on access techniques and approaches for all known barriers and disability categories. This includes techniques found in commercial software and hardware, free software, research prototypes, etc.

We need your help in collecting and organizing this information. We will give a $5 award for every:

  • new technique (be sure to suggest items for the detail page for the technique to earn more)
  • new item for the list of open source or commercial products that implement a technique
  • new paper for bibliography of research on any technique
  • significant edit (any type beyond typo/grammaro) or improvement to the Masterlist pages.

Submit 20 or 100 and make some real money!


These are projects that require ingenuity and creativity. Sometimes they call for someone to do something for the first time. Sometimes they look for a better or best implementation. Awards are associated with some of these.

  • EHR Accessibility Module Challenge
    • The US Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology is challenging multidisciplinary teams to create and test a module or application that makes it easy for disabled consumers to access and interact with the health data stored in their EHRs. The application should:
      • Be easy for individuals with disabilities to consume and interact with their health data
      • Be simple to install and learn to use
      • Identify and link to relevant local or online communities and organizations
      • Be able to download data from one or more EHR systems – it does not need to be fully integrated across all systems
      • Leverage and extend NwHIN standards and services including, but not limited to, transport (Direct, web services), content (Transitions of Care, CCD/CCR), and standardized vocabularies.
      • $60,000 prize
  • An Open Source version of the Trace Center’s PEAT.
    • The Trace Center created a Photosensitive Epilepsy Analysis Tool (PEAT) that can analyze web and software to detect visual events that are known to cause seizures.  This prize is for the creation of a “clean room” open source version of the tool.
    • Award.
  • Typographically oriented assistive PDF reader
    • The development of an PDF reader that is typographically oriented and has features that allow users to change the visual presentation of the text including enlargement, reflow, text search, and other accessible features without loss of information.
  • Photo Seizure Monitor/Blocker Tools 
    • Challenge 1 is to create a piece of software that can be installed in a display (or box connected to a display) that will monitor the signal coming in to the display, detect visual events that are known to trigger a seizure, and alter the signal to remove that stimulus.
    • Challenge 2 is to create a pair of glasses that can monitor the environment for seizure inducing visual events, detect them, and then modify what the user sees in order to reduce or eliminate the seizure inducing event.
    • (Award sponsor being sought.)
  • Secure USB Port
    • In order to allow the connection of special accessibility interfaces it would be very helpful to have a USB on kiosks voting machines etc.  However they create a severe security risk. The challenge is to create a USB port that can only be used for connection of alternate interfaces with functionality limited to operation of the controls on the closed product and cannot be used to break into a device or system.
    • NOTE: NIST has funded a project to build this and we a have prototypes.  The challenge now has shifted to a challenge to break into the secure USB Port.  Anyone interested in testing the secure USB port please contact Challenges [a t]
  • Implementations GPII Auto-personalization
    • Awards for making any AT or mainstream product GPII compatible.
  • Paper Documentation or Demonstration of Security Breach of any GPII security protocol or prototype.
    • Awards for anyone finding security or privacy holes in GPII plans or protocols.
    • Awards for fixes or better solutions.
  • Low cost Braille Display
    • Under $1000 retail (2012 USD) braille display and keyboard.
    • Under $500 retail (2012 USD)  braille display and keyboard.
  • Universal Braille Translator/Driver
    • An open source braille translator-editor-driver that can serve as a universal driver that could be supported by all braille displays in the future allowing plug and play interoperability between displays and software programs.  Driver would include braille and tactile graphics including high resolution 3D graphic displays.
  • Language Simplification
    • Language translators are currently able to translate from complex languages into other languages that have fewer words and simpler syntax and grammar.  This project would develop the ability to translate between standard written English and a simpler form of English that has a restricted vocabulary and grammar.
  • Dyslexia and Social Networking
    • This challenge is to set up social networking assistance where people with dyslexia can have speech-to-text, text-to-speech and text auto-correct. They should have options to replay the speech, get text corrected, and edit the text. The text can be corrected automatically or by outsourced/crowdsourced proofreading. Other possible solutions may include voice messaging/posting and word prediction. The goal is to enable people with dyslexia and other writing problems, to be able to join into the rich social networking opportunities with confidence, instead of having to just be observers because they are afraid that their writing would leave a bad impression.

Grand Challenges

These are major endeavors to achieve something that has never been done – and it is not clear how to do achieve it. These can vary in difficulty (though all are difficult) and in type of reward. Some have no reward but are just a challenge thrown down to see if someone can solve them.

  • INFOBOT Grand Challenge
    • The development of a software robot that can view any webpage or computer screen and create a semantic model of all of the information there sufficient to represent it to a user in a functioning and equivalent interface of another form.   The robot can use keyboard or mouse to explore the screen.
  • OmniView Pen 
    • The development of an under $1000 pen that can scan 270 to 360 degrees and detect all text in the environment, its distance and size, and present it to a blind user in a cogent fashion.  It can also locate text the user specifies and provide direction and distance for any text specified.
  • Text to Sign Language converter
    • Demonstration of translation of english text into sign language with fingerspelling used only as it would be for an experienced interpreter – and display of the signs on screen by a photorealistic avatar.
  • Sign to text or to speech
    • Camera pickup of experienced interpreter using ASL that is translated into english text or into english speech with intonation.   (two prizes)

Everyone is invited to submit new items for this page (or to contribute to an award value). Items chosen for inclusion will have the submitters name attached as well as those who suggest significant improvements to the challenge or the support materials for it.

Thanks to Yahoo as the first sponsor in this program.