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Dr. Destler’s Access and Inclusion Technology Challenge

challenge poster

Date: Saturday, May 7, 2016
Time: 9:00 a.m. until 10:00 a.m., prior to the opening ceremony of Imagine RIT
Location: Clark Gym


There currently exists a range of access and inclusion technologies, either on the market or in development, to help people—whether they are chronically ill patients, aging seniors, veterans, deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, people who are blind and visually impaired, or individuals with physical and cognitive challenges.

RIT is one of many organizations that is committed to advancing access and inclusion for people of all abilities through innovative technology research and development.

Dr. Destler’s challenge is an opportunity for RIT students to showcase their work in this area.

Entry Criteria

  • The challenge is open to all current RIT students (or team of students).
  • No entry fee is required.
  • Submissions should be in writing (max. 2 pages in length).
  • Each submission is expected to:
    • Describe the need for the development of a technological concept that will aid people with differing abilities and lead to better access and inclusion in society. Things to consider: What problem does it attempt to solve? What gap in the marketplace does it fill? How does it maximize accessibility using technology?
    • We are asking that concepts fall specifically into the category of either TRAVEL or SHOPPING.
    • We are providing the following scenarios as conversation starters for your team, but please do not feel as though you should limit your ideas to only these.
      • A first year NTID/GCCIS student needs to get to her home in Allerton, Illinois. She has only been at RIT for two months. What technology might she need/use to help expedite her travel and make it as smooth and efficient as possible?
      • A RIT student who is wheelchair bound would like to go grocery shopping somewhere near campus, but planning and making that happen is a challenge. What technology would he need/use to assist him?
      • There is a music concert at RIT that three students would like to attend; however, the challenge is that one student is deaf, one is blind and one is in a wheelchair. How can they get the best experience at the concert including socializing with their friends?
    • Define your client population. (Competition organizers will help connect each team with one or more members of the client population to research and refine your concept.)
    • Define how you envision the device/system will function to meet the need(s) of the client population.
    • Outline a plan to develop proof of concept and/or a prototype to showcase on the day of the competition.
    • Briefly discuss the foreseeable commercial impact of your concept as well as potential challenges to creating and/or delivering this product or service to the market. Include a cost-benefit analysis.

The application deadline is March 1, 2016. Email submissions to Imagine RIT program chair, Heather Cottone, at

Prior to the start of Imagine RIT on May 7, 2016, 9 a.m.-10 a.m., each team will set up an exhibit in Clark Gymnasium to showcase their proof of concept or operational prototype to a panel of external judges that will include RIT trustees, potential clients (end users), and client service providers. Winners will be selected and announced during the opening ceremony of Imagine RIT on the stage in Simone Circle at 10:00 a.m.

Following the competition, all contestants should plan to maintain their exhibits throughout the day for visitors of Imagine RIT to experience. (10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.)


Entries will be evaluated based upon the following criteria (a scoring rubric for these categories will be provided at a later date):

  • Innovation—the most novel (creative) idea as it relates to the theme of the competition
  • Commercial Feasibility—likelihood that the product can be brought to market (include considerations regarding manufacturing costs vs. cost to the consumer). Does the product fill a gap in the marketplace?
  • Effectiveness (Technical Viability)—way(s) in which the product will solve an everyday problem and/or meet clients’ needs. This includes showing design and anticipated performance through proof of concept or a working prototype


Prizes to be awarded as part of Dr. Destler’s Challenge are as follows:

  • 1st Place—$1,000 or an antique banjo from Dr. Destler’s private collection
  • 2nd Place—$1,000 or an antique banjo from Dr. Destler’s private collection (pending the selection of the 1st place winner)
  • 3rd Place—$250