Idea-to-Prototype in 36 Hours? Washington,DC CAN Work Quickly!

United Cerebral Palsy's Life Labs delivers real results at its D.C. "Enabled by Design-athon," making us all feel just a little bit better about the ability of the nation's capital to solve problems.
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United Cerebral Palsy's Life Labs delivers real results at its D.C. "Enabled by Design-athon," making us all feel just a little bit better about the ability of the nation's capital to solve problems.

With a focus on accessibility and usability, the latest design-athon brought together ten teams at Google in Washington, D.C. to work at lightning speed to design new products AND THEN PROTOTYPE THEM within 36 hours. The event format was created by Enabled by Design, who've shared it via a Creative Commons license.

After the success of Enabled By Design-athons in London and Sydney, the D.C. hackathon was hosted by United Cerebral Palsy's (UCP's) "Life Labs" - a tech-focused initiative "dedicated to identifying, developing, and supporting ideas that will make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities." Their goal is a life without limits and they're using resources and other business and organizations to get there. They're definitely of a Not Impossible Now mindset!

The Winning Idea

The winning prototype utilized 3D-printers to build a prototype that helps people lock their bathroom stalls - a seemingly simple solution to a real problem that exists - the anxiety that someone is going to push open a bathroom stall door with a broken lock. The bathroom stall lock, called "Re-latch" can be carried by anyone, and used anywhere. Better yet, they're making the design available open-source, for free, so that anyone with access to a 3D printer can print one out for less than a dollar. 

People's Choice Award

WeAreAble built wearable bracelets that enables someone to grip their cellphones, silverware, zip up zippers, and otherwise handle slippery and hard-to-grap devices that sometimes get away. 

Universal Designs set their minds to an affordable all-terrain wheelchair, Stars at War tackled a tool to house definitions for colloquialisms that confuse kids with autism. 

Look for additional design-athons coming to Chicago and elsewhere. We'll try to provide updates and definitely let us know if you see the information before we do as a hackathon that ends with one or more pioneering prototypes is an exciting prospect indeed. Let's find a way to link all these ideas to keep them going beyond the day-and-a-half.

Enabled by Design is working to create a movement for accessibility for the masses, so get in touch if you'd like to get involved and run your own Enabled by Design-athon. You can follow these innovators and institutions on twitter at @enabledby and @UCPLifeLabs, and check out the highlight reel from the Sydney, Australia edition here: