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MassChallenge Adds Perkins School for the Blind Assistive Technology Prize

Friday, March 02, 2012

Press release from the issuing company

Perkins School for the Blind is ready to back entrepreneurs who focus on improving opportunities and quality of life for people with disabilities by offering the Perkins Assistive Technology Prize as part of the MassChallenge 2012. The $25 thousand dollar grant, drawn from a donation earmarked for technological solutions, promotes Perkins’ mission to empower individuals with disabilities to reach their personal potential.

“We are very pleased to partner with Perkins School for the Blind, an organization that has continually led the way in improving lives through innovation,” said Akhil Nigam, Founder and President, MassChallenge Inc.  “Their generous support will help raise awareness and attract many more entrepreneurs to develop cutting edge solutions that can transform lives.”

Administered through MassChallenge, Perkins Assistive Technology Prize seeks to encourage competitors to develop new, low- and high-technology devices that could have a significant impact in the quality of life for individuals with disabilities. Such assistive technology could apply to any sector of life (education, transportation, recreation, communications, vocational, etc.). The assistive technology could be designed for a certain group of individuals with a disability (vision loss, hearing loss, mobility, etc.), or have a more universal market application. Details and application information  at www.MassChallenge.org

One-fifth of the U.S. population lives with some type of disability, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. As the population grows and the Baby Boom generation ages, that number will rise rapidly.

Disability pushes people to the fringes of community and society. Without innovative solutions, a disability can lock the wheels of a person on the move, block communication pathways of a person who cannot see, hear, or speak and stops their forward motion through life. Technology can unlock those wheels and open the gateways of information and ideas. Perkins has a 183-year history of innovation in educating people who are blind or deafblind.

“Joining with MassChallenge is a natural for us,” says Perkins President Steven Rothstein. “It’s in everyone’s interest to urge entrepreneurs to consider accessibility because better access for people with disabilities means better access for all.”

Assistive technology allows people with disabilities to be productive workers, to process information, and to put their ideas into action. Innovation can be applied in countless ways to provide mobility for people with physical disabilities, communication access for those with impaired hearing or vision, and adaptations we have yet to imagine. Together, Perkins and MassChallenge can put entrepreneurs’ imaginations in motion to find new ways to leap over disability to productivity and independence.

Perkins School for the Blind, the nation’s first school for students with visual impairments, provides education and services to help build productive, meaningful lives for more than 200,000 children and adults who are blind or deafblind, including those with additional disabilities in the U.S. and 67 countries worldwide. Founded in 1829, Perkins pursues this mission around the world, in the community, and on campus. Learn more online atwww.Perkins.org

MassChallenge is the largest-ever startup accelerator and competition, and the first to support high-impact, early-stage entrepreneurs with no strings attached.

Benefits for startups include:

* 3 month accelerator program. World-class mentorship and training, free office space, access to funding, legal advice, cofounders, media exposure and more.
* $1M in Cash Awards. $4M+ in-kind support.
* Open to all. Any startup can enter, from anywhere, in any industry.
* No equity taken. No restrictions applied.

President Obama honored MassChallenge in January of 2011 as one of the nation's best organizations for supporting high-growth entrepreneurs, and MassChallenge was the youngest inaugural affiliate of the Startup America Partnership. The 111 startups supported in the 2010 MassChallenge accelerator raised over $100M in outside funding and created ~500 new jobs in under 12 months.


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