More than 100 students from across North America submitted laudable entries, but Lindsey Shapiro from Rockville, Maryland, was declared the $1,000 grand prize winner of ‘ADI’s Make the Change Challenge,’ ADI’s first-annual accessible design contest for students grades 4-12 that spotlights the inaccessibility of our world and our communal responsibility to make a change.
Run by ADI to mark Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month (#JDAIM), the contest encourages students to open their hearts and minds to the needs, viewpoints and experiences of the disability community.
Lindsey Shapiro, a 6th grader at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, won the contest with an entry entitled ‘Safe-T-Tape,’ a tape-like product with bumps that can make dangerous or unfamiliar spaces more accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired. This easy-to-use dispenser of tactile ground surface indicators, like those found on city streets and subway platforms, represents a real solution for making indoor and outdoor locations safer and easier to navigate for people of all abilities.
“We added this STEM contest to our ‘ADI Bechinuch’ (literally ‘ADI in Education’) disability inclusion programming to encourage the next generation of Jewish leaders to be thoughtful, sympathetic and see the world through the eyes of others, to drive home the message that we must first acknowledge our shared humanity before attempting to change society,” said Elie Klein, ADI’s Director of Development for the US and Canada. “Lindsey’s brilliant design is proof positive that our young leaders are using their hearts and minds to consider the experiences of others, and that we as a community are on the right track.”
Launched at the beginning of February, ADI’s Make the Change Challenge charged participants with emulating the inventors and designers of the maker movement and harnessing the power of “selfless STEM,” encouraging them to hack the modern world to create new devices and improve existing ones in an effort to help people with disabilities overcome the challenges that hinder their independence and inclusion.
Instead of focusing on the development of prototypes, the students were asked to prepare compelling presentations that clearly explained how their original solutions would solve the persistent accessibility issues they choose to tackle. Still, Shapiro went the extra mile to create a rough prototype and bring her idea to life.
“I was wondering how people who are blind or visually impaired navigate the world without running into things, because there are so many obstacles,” explained Shapiro about the origins of her idea. “When I realized that tactile ground surface indicators were used in public places, I started thinking about how the same concept could be applied to all indoor and outdoor areas, without having to construct a whole new floor each time. Safe-T-Tape is a solution that promotes independence and is easy to place and remove.”
On Sunday, February 28, ADI’s panel of experts, including members of ADI’s professional staff, innovation journalists, and specialists in the field of accessible design, met with the top five finalists and their parents via Zoom to discuss their entries in greater detail. The proceedings concluded with Shapiro being crowned the contest winner and presented with the $1,000 grand prize, a gift from the Avraham and Esther Klein Young Entrepreneurs Fund.
The remaining finalists included:
- Myxable – Sahhar Azulay, Scheck Hillel Community School (South Florida)
- Accessible Groceries for All – Hodaya Harary, Margolin Hebrew Academy/Feinstone Yeshiva of the South (Tennessee)
- Finger Gripper – Dalya Prezant, David Posnack Jewish Day School (South Forida)
- Travel Glasses – Alexandra Wexler, David Posnack Jewish Day School (South Florida)
“We are blown away by the consideration and creativity of our student participants, the newest members of the maker movement. With innovations like ‘Safe-T-Tape,’ it’s clear that we have taken a giant step towards awareness and are on our way to creating a better and more caring world,” added Klein.
ADI (formerly ALEH Jerusalem and ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran) empowers hundreds of Israel’s most vulnerable citizens – children, adolescents and adults with severe disabilities – to advance well beyond their initial prognoses and live happy, dignified, and meaningful lives. ADI also provides the highest-level rehabilitative care for all and is laying the groundwork for the establishment of fully inclusive communities across the country.