The Webby for Good, produced in partnership with WP Engine, is a showcase of Webby-honored projects and campaigns that are promoting social good in the world.
Describe your project. What is it, what was the elevator pitch?
To help people with paralysis play again, we designed and built prototypes of two toys: a remote-controlled car and a baseball pitching machine. We utilized existing technologies designed to help people living with paralysis — such as headset control and voice activation — and adapted them to control the toys.
What key challenges did you face with this project? And how did you overcome them?
Ensuring that the toys would be easy to control and provide the same joy as toys do for those who are not limited in their mobility. Adapting existing technology also presented challenges as we were adapting devices not meant for our intended use. Our technology partner AXIOS NYC was key to navigating these challenges, and we conducted numerous tests to ensure the toys were easy to use and required little to no training in order to experience.
What was the most rewarding aspect of working on your project?
Seeing our heroes (featured in the film) smiling and enjoying play time with their families. Eric LeGrand, former college football player, said it best: “it just gives me a little piece of independence back.”
Why this particular cause as the subject of your project/campaign?
There are currently adapted automobiles and adapted homes in the world, which aid those living with paralysis in carrying out the daily activities many people take for granted. But despite all of this innovation, one area of life had been largely overlooked: play. Play is a universal connector – it improves quality of life, connects people emotionally and wards off stress and depression. But for the one in 50 people who face some form of paralysis, these experiences are difficult, if not impossible, and that inability to fully interact and play with family can be a challenging barrier. We wanted to make it possible for people living with paralysis to rejoin playtime with their families, and raise awareness around the need for adapted products for people with paralysis.
When working on this project, what were some of the most important conversations you had with your team?
We worked closely with The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation to ensure we were being sensitive to the needs of this community, and that all decisions made were done in service of the unique requirements of those with limited mobility. We did not want to design a product that was cumbersome or that required a huge learning curve. We had to keep the approach innovative but the end product as simple to use as the toys we were adapting.
What did you learn from working on this project that you didn't know going into it? Did anything come out of it that surprised you, or that you weren't expecting?
We were overcome by the resiliency of those living with paralysis – our hero volunteers – and by the strength of their families. We also gained a better understanding of their daily challenges, and how technological innovations need to be focused more on specialized solutions. If more people developing new products considered adaptability for people with paralysis, so many lives would be dramatically improved.
Video content that promotes a company or organization’s mission to improve civil and social life.