Amazon Chooses First Alexa Accessibility Award Winner in Brazil-Exclusive Contest
Amazon has chosen the winners for the first Alexa Accessibility Award. Developers created Alexa skills designed to improve the lives of people with disabilities, with submissions limited to Brazil. A month after the 10 finalists were announced, whittled down from more than 100 submissions, the winner and two runners-up have been awarded the cash prizes and corresponding donations for their favorite charity.
The winning skill is Memória Sonora (Memory Sound), an audio card-matching game designed for people in cognitive rehabilitation as a memory-training exercise, especially if they have impaired vision. Adriana Rita, the woman behind this skill, will receive about $1,900 in prize money and an Echo Studio, with another $9,300 or so for her charity of choice. Second place went to an audio guide to organization and scheduling for people with intellectual disabilities called Onde guardo isso? (Where do I keep this?) Developer Marcos Medeiros, will receive about $930 in prize money, and an Echo Show 8, and about $6,500 for his chosen charity. For third place, the judge chose Localizador de ônibus São Paulo acessível (accessible São Paulo bus locator), a skill for those with impaired or no eyesight that lets them know when and where accessible busses are coming. Amazon will award the developer, Felipe Borges, an Echo Show 8, an Echo, and a smart home kit from Positivo, along with about $2,800 for his favorite NGO.
“We are honored and happy with the dedication of the developers for having created so many incredible skills to benefit people with disabilities,” Alexa marketing manager for Brazil Thais Cunha, said in a translated statement. “We are extremely proud to see a technology, like Alexa, helping so many people, and we congratulate not only today’s winners, but everyone who entered their skills. We hope that the legacy of the Alexa Accessibility Award will continue, with new skills and devices being invented to make the lives of people with disabilities easier.”
Amazon has not said why the first contest of this nature has been constrained to Brazilian contestants. Amazon’s non-profit partners, the Association for Assistance to Children with Disabilities (AACD), the Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind, and Instituto Jô Clemente, are all Brazilian, but that could be a contributing factor or a choice made after the fact. It’s not because of a particularly long presence in the country. Alexa added Brazilian Portuguese to its languages about a year ago when Echos and other smart devices were about to go on sale in Brazil.
Amazon has been promoting Alexa as a boon to people with disabilities globally, even without this particular contest, cataloging them all in the Accessibility Hub. The latest features include sharing Alexa shopping lists and 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 also partnered with Israeli voice tech startup Voiceitt 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.