Amazon Names Finalists for Brazil-Exclusive Alexa Accessibility Award
Amazon has picked ten finalists for the first Alexa Accessibility Award. The contest invited developers to create Alexa skills for the benefit of people with disabilities, but submissions were only taken in Brazil. The 10 finalists are now competing for significant cash both as a personal reward and to donate to a favorite charity.
The award winner will receive about $1,900 in prize money, with another $9,300 or so donated to a philanthropic organization of their choice and an Echo Studio. Second place receives about half that money for both individual reward and charity, as well as an Echo Show 8, while the third-place winner will get a smaller amount to donate and a few smart devices as a consolation prize. The submissions will be judged on things like user experience, design, and technical strength and the winners announced next month.
The Brazilian exclusive nature of the competition is notable, too. Amazon often makes these kinds of contests international. Amazon added Brazilian Portuguese to Alexa’s languages a little over a year ago, right before starting to sell Echos and other smart devices in Brazil. The reasoning may just be because Amazon’s non-profit partners are all Brazilian, including the Association for Assistance to Children with Disabilities (AACD), the Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind, and Instituto Jô Clemente.
“We are very happy to announce the finalists of the almost 100 skills entered in the Alexa Accessibility Award. We thank the developers who submitted skills, who will also receive an Echo Dot ”, Brazilian Alexa marketing manager Thais Cunha said in a statement translated from Portuguese. “We are excited about the potential benefit of these skills to people with disabilities and also with the round of presentations, in which they will be evaluated by Amazon, AACD, Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind, Instituto Jô Clemente and by people with disabilities, served by these institutions.
Setting aside the geographic limitations, an Alexa Accessibility Award fits very well in the narrative Amazon has been promoting of Alexa as an enormous boon to people with disabilities. The company often showcases new accessibility features and tools with much fanfare cataloging them all in the Accessibility Hub. Over the last year or so, Alexa accessibility tools have arrived at a steady pace. The list spans from being able to share Alexa shopping lists to the Alexa Care Hub, which allows people from one home to consensually use a loved one’s Alexa-enabled smart device to keep track of their activity and serve as an emergency contact for Alexa to call. Amazon has even applied the accessibility focus to actually communicating with Alexa. The tech giant partnered with Israeli voice tech startup Voiceitt at the end of last year to enable people with atypical and impaired speech to use Voiceitt’s mobile app to restate commands to the voice assistant in a way it can understand.
Check out the finalists for the Alexa Accessibility Award below:
Accessible São Paulo bus locator – A voice skill for those with little or no vision to better locate when and where a bus is coming and if it is accessible for people with disabilities.
Art Beyond Vision – This skill aims to share detailed audio descriptions of art to people with impaired eyesight.
Viagem Viagem – Instead of art, this brings highly detailed audio descriptions to different locations, combining narration with sound effects to immerse those who can’t see the location in what it would be like to travel there.
Jogo do Braille – A voice game for people with impaired vision, Jogo de Braille helps teach letters and numbers in Braille, as well as background details about the language.
Meu Mapa – A geolocation skill that enables Alexa to respond with the precise address when asked by a user where they are and how to get to nearby destinations safely.
More Accessibility – A true-or-false voice game around accessibility issues to help people learn more about the innovations and challenges for people with disabilities.
Sound Memory – A brain training tool for rehabilitation, Sound Memory is an audio version of the standard card matching memorization for people with impaired vision who may also be going through a cognitive decline.
Task Guide – This skill breaks down everyday tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks to assist people with intellectual disabilities. The voice assistant thus acts as an aide and helps users maintain independence on a day-to-day level.
Where do I keep this? – An Alexa skill for people with intellectual disabilities, Where do I keep this? is supposed to help guide and advise users about organizing their homes and schedules.
PCD jobs – As the title hints, this Alexa sill shares information about jobs in Brazil that can accommodate people with disabilities, even reaching out to those companies on behalf of the user.