Brooklyn makeathon challenges students to develop assistive technology for people with disabilities

WHAT:          More than 180 engineers, coders and developers to create physical protoypes of assistive technology for people with disabilities at three-day makeathon event

WHEN:          Friday, April 21 – Sunday, April 23

WHERE:        New Lab at Brooklyn Navy Yard, 19 Morris Avenue, Brooklyn

MEDIA:         The event is open to the media. Reporters are asked to RSVP to Daryl Lovell in Cornell’s Media Relations Office at 607-254-4799 or


ITHACA, N.Y. – A makeathon to develop affordable assistive technology for people with disabilities will be held April 21-23 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s New Lab. The event is being presented by Cornell University in partnership with the Reut Group’s Tikkun Olam Makers (also known as TOM) and the New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.

More than 180 people in teams of four to 10 “makers” – engineers, developers, coders and others – will be connected with “need knowers” – individuals with deep understanding of a specific disability. The goal is to develop hardware and software prototypes that improve inclusiveness for people with disabilities, filling a need where there has been no market or government interest. Designs will be published online for public use.

Students will work on the development of a device that will allow users of nonmotorized wheelchairs to access their personal bag or storage, an idea proposed by a resident of Roosevelt Island, where Cornell Tech will open this September.

Cornell Tech, Entrepreneurship at Cornell and the Cornell ILR School’s K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Institute on Employment and Disability are partners in TOM: NYC, New York City’s first TOM community. These makeathons have been held in 10 countries since they began in 2014. TOM was shaped by the idea of an inclusive society and embodies this ideal in multiple ways, according to Gidi Grinstein, founder and president of Reut Group, which created TOM.

Students from Cornell Tech will participate in the makeathon. Many worked with TOM this winter in Israel at a similar event hosted by the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology, Cornell’s academic partner institution at Cornell Tech.

In addition to students, Niti Parikh, who leads the Cornell Tech MakerLAB, and professor Shiri Azenkot, whose research focuses on enabling people with disabilities to have equal access to information via mobile and wearable devices, will guide students.



Daryl Lovell
office: 607-254-4799
cell: 607-592-3925



Cornell University has television, ISDN and dedicated Skype/Google+ Hangout studios available for media interviews.