Cool Tech from Festival ADA

It was a gorgeous Saturday afternoon when we hit the pavilions at Festival ADA! We set up a table with samples of publications from the NIDILRR grantee community and chatted with people about technology, inclusion, employment, parenting, gaming, and so much more!

man holds a plastic card demonstrating how to use it to change accessibility settings on a laptop

Demonstration of the GPII system.

Down the row, a representative from the Trace Center and the NIDILRR-funded Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Universal Access and Information Technology demonstrated GPII. Imagine pulling up to a generic computer at a hotel business center, slipping in a card, and *presto* your custom settings appear! No fumbling with accessibility settings! When you’re done, pull the card and the terminal goes back to its default settings.

On the other side from our table, the Department of Transportation built a model sidewalk demonstrating how physical access has changed in the 25 years since the ADA’s passage:

Pre-1990 you could expect to encounter at least one step up to a curb, if not more. A 2001 sample shows a classic curb cut, with sloping sides and a textured center section sloping to meet the level of the street.

sample of a curb with two step up.

A standard curb pre-ADA: Two steps present a physical challenge.

A curb cut featuring sloping sides and a textured center sloping to the street level.

A 2001 sample sidewalk shows a classic curb cut










The 2015 sample shows the full curb with a gentle slope and a highly-textured surface. That change in surface alerts pedestrians with vision loss that they are nearing the end of the sidewalk. (Not pictured but also cool: A crosswalk signal that chirps and vibrates.)

Slope runs the length of the curb with a yellow, plastic, textured surface extending across the full slope.

A sidewalk for the 21st Century: accommodates physical and visual disabilities

Other cool stuff we saw:

Ablegamers set up several stations for people to try the latest video games with accessible controllers showing that “Everyone Can Game!” Check them out at

Three men representing AbleGamers with t-shirts saying everyone can game. A monitor shows a driving game with an accessible controller.

The guys from AbleGamers with a super cool demo booth

We educate developers so their next game is more accessible, we work with hardware makers to get new tech into people's lives, and because some tech is just too expensive, we grant it to those in need.

AbleGamers 3 goals

A modified Corvette! This experimental, semi-autonomous Corvette was modified for a racecar driver who was paralyzed in a racing accident. Using the base model ‘vette and off-the-shelf equipment, developers created a car he controls with his head: Hat sensors read his turn directions and a sip-and-puff tube controls acceleration and breaking. He’s driven it on a track up to 107 mph! See it in action at

Black Corvette with Freescale and Arrow painted on the side

A custom Corvette

Back of a Corvette with painted on the back. the hatch is open to show where the computer controls sit.

Off-the-shelf computer parts and controllers make this a cool ride for one former racer.










Did you have a chance to visit Festival ADA? What about other ADA celebrations across the US? Tell us about it in the comment section!

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