Programs such as Remarkable’s Enabled by Design-athon remind us that inclusion is also a challenge of our imagination, writes Natalie Falzon.

Three hours and 37 cents. That’s all that was needed to get 20-year-old Marusha Pride back in the fast lane. The Sydney-sider wasn’t able to use her electric wheelchair due to spasms in her hands, and had been waiting six months for a $1000 modification to come through.

Then, something rather special happened. Marusha met Mel Fuller and Johan du Plessis, co-founders of startup Ability Mate. The pair use 3D printing to make assistive devices that can be customized for unique needs. And that’s exactly what they did for Marusha. The duo and designer Kin Ly worked with Marusha, who lives with cerebral palsy, to design and 3D print a bespoke controller.

“It took us three hours and cost us just 37 cents in material,” Mel says. “We all had tears in our eyes as she drove around for the first time in months, with a huge smile.”

Abilty Mate is one of four inspiring inclusive start-ups who recently graduated from the Remarkable accelerator in Sydney. A partnership between the Telstra Foundation, Cerebral Palsy Alliance and NSW Department of Families and Community Services, the Remarkable accelerator gives startups who use technology to create solutions for people with a disability (aka inclusive startups) – the tools, skills and network they need to succeed.

Each of the four startups who took part in the inaugural 16-week accelerator this year were, truly Remarkable (pun absolutely intended). They included Sound Scouts, which leverages gaming to identify undetected hearing loss in children, abil.io, who use real-time data to support accessible journey planning and diversityX – a platform to coach people with disabilities to express their value to potential employers.

To mark International Day for People with a Disability (IDPWD) – we’re proud to be launching Remarkable’s 2017 Enabled by Design event. This will see more than 100 innovators, inventors and people with a disability descend on the University of Sydney in February for a part-hackathon, part-design sprint.

The event aims to address real-life challenges faced by people living with a disability – and merge innovation, cutting‐edge technology and business strategy to demonstrate how great design can change lives. We’ve putting the call out now for individuals and teams to take-up the challenge and sign-up for Enabled by Design-athon. Top teams will not only share in $10,000 of cash and prizes, but will also be offered a place in the Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s 2017 Remarkable 16-week accelerator program.

Technology truly allows us to do wondrous things. It can put us in two places at once, help save a life and breathe life into machines. Both the Enabled by Design-athon and the Remarkable accelerator remind us that inclusion is not just a challenge of technology, but a challenge of our imagination.

Be part of the Enabled by Design-athon

Applications for the Enabled by Design-athon (EbD) are now open until 9 January and individuals, teams and corporate groups are encouraged to apply. The event has been designed to include anyone who is passionate about inclusive design – from the curious novice to expert leaders in this space. Further information enabledbydesignathon.org.au and remarkable.org.au.