One of the problem spaces for this hackathon was accessibility. Our team was inspired by our peers who are differently abled. We realized there was a lot we could contribute in terms of allyship (building empathy) and service.

What it does

Our web app is a two facing platform. Clients enter the homepage and can choose two paths. If you’re an ally (someone who does not have a disability and wants to contribute to the discussion), you may play our game. Our game aims to teach empathy in users through role playing.

More about the RPG - The RPG seeks to foster empathy and allyship by emulating the experiences relayed to us by some of our poll takers with personal experiences with accessibility needs and conflicts. It uses abstractions of some different experiences of disability (the encryption and scrambling of text to represent learning barriers, and a hard, variant limit to energy as a resource for physical barriers). The user plays a character with an undiagnosed learning disability and an undiagnosed physical disability who starts out at the beginning of a school week with a new assignment that they are unable to complete because they cannot read it on time. Their goal is to complete the assignment.

This is a choose-your-own game that seeks to represent some experiences of trying to navigate accessibility issues without a diagnosis, the process of being diagnosed and the time and monetary resources required to do so, issues of cultural approaches to disability (and what it is like to access the resources one may need when their family and friends don’t ‘believe’ in disability and therefore do not help), and the disproportionate amount of energy and time it would take the student to try and navigate the issue with no help whatsoever.

Ultimately, it is our hope that this game will be a learning experience for users without diagnosed disabilities to more deeply consider why accessibility is an important issue, and to think more flexibly about the variety of barriers individuals may face when navigating academic systems due to a lack of accessibility resources. We also hope this may encourage those who play to think about what kind of resources exist on their campus, and if those resources are available or functional.

More about the accessibility resources - We envisioned this to be like a college prowler but specifically for questions relating to accessibility. Students at different schools can rate their campuses in terms of accessibility, resource allocation, professor attitudes towards differently abled students, etc.

How I built it

We used Python, Javascript, and Flask.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

None of us knew each other before the hackathon and are really proud of how we came together to make our ambitions a reality. We each taught and learned from each other about new tools, languages, and hacks.

We all also participated in polling research and academic research regarding the general knowledge our peer group has regarding accessibility issues, as well as existing laws, academic standards, programs and cultural spaces specific to the issue. This raised our awareness and empathy, and so we were able to deepen our skills in interfacing between software development as a technological feat, but also as a humanitarian feat, and the importance of working with people to create with them in mind.

What I learned

Our team was comprised of lots of first time hackers! We learned how to use the git workflow, how to navigate new languages/frameworks (flask, sql, python), and how to move through the design process to product shipping (interviewing, creating personas, storyboarding, code writing, debugging).

What's next for The Accessibility Index

In the future, we’d love to work on furthering progress for the implementation. Right now we have a wireframe for the RPG but would really like to add gamification elements and improve the user experience.

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