Hackathon to help people with disabilities

The Centre has decided to organise a mega-contest for engineering students to develop new assistive devices for people with "intellectual and developmental disabilities".

The National Trust, a statutory body under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, has joined hands with the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to hold the contest.

The move comes months after the AICTE, under the human resource development ministry, organised a 'Smart India Hackathon' for science and technology students earlier this year.

The initiative led to the development of at least 250 prototypes of software solutions, sought by various Union ministries and departments.

As many as 10,000 students participated in the first-ever 36-hour non-stop coding contest in April.

"It was a grand success. Work is on to further develop these prototypes. We are hoping to see that a large number of our engineering students participate in the National Trust's Hackathon also and come up with innovative solutions for the benefit of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities," a AICTE official said

The National Trust has planned to organise a 'Hackathon' for developing "new and affordable" assistive devices for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities with a view "to elicit creativity and expertise" of students of the engineering colleges across the country, the official said.

Students, willing to take part in the contest, can also come up with prototypes for making "innovative changes" in existing assistive devices to make them "more effective" for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

"Teams from any engineering colleges in the country can participate," the official added.

The last date for sending entries to the National Trust is February 1.

"The entries have to be forwarded by the respective institution," the official said.

Entries will be  scrutinised by a team  of experts from various engineering colleges and the non-government organisations working in the field.

"The ten best entries will be finalised by the team of experts. The respective teams will then be invited to make their presentation before the secretary of the department of the empowerment of persons with disabilities. They would also be honoured in the presence of Social Justice and Empowerment Minister (Thaawarchand Gehlot)," the official said.

The winning entries will get "attractive cash prizes too", he added.

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