This 12-year-old has designed an app to help people with disabilities

A 12-year-old boy from Idaho recently saw a man in a wheelchair who could not open a door to a shop. That single encounter got Alexander Knoll thinking about what he could do to help. So he took that inspiration and designed a new smartphone app called Ability App.

App Will Help With Navigation, Services and Employment

This incredible app was envisioned with the intention of helping people with disabilities “find employment, services and facilities that give abilities” according to the Ability App’s website.

Knoll said his encounter with the man in the wheelchair got him thinking about what people with disabilities needed in order to make life easier. He explained his thought process on the Ability App’s GoFundMe page.

The door didn’t have an automatic push button to open the door. As the man struggled to get through the door, I wondered if there was an app that could have told him, before he left his house, about the features available at this and other stores around the area. After doing some research, I wasn’t able to find any such app. So, I decided that I would create the app to assist disabled people in finding the features at various locations that could meet their needs.

For example, the Ability App will identify businesses with “disability friendly features,” which include:

  • automatic doors
  • wheelchair ramps
  • Braille signs and menus
  • service animal relief locations
  • assistive technology for the hearing impaired
  • wheelchair friendly restaurant seating
  • and more

Knoll also has plans to add functionality to the Ability App that would help people with disabilities find jobs in their area. Users would simply need to enter a zip code to get a listing of work opportunities. Searches would even be filtered by disability (visual impairment, hearing impairment, mobility limitations, etc.).

Ability App
Ability App

Knoll started the GoFundMe page to help raise money to get his app created, published and promoted. Plans for the money also include the securing of resources needed to add as many businesses and features to the app as possible.

Knoll’s work has since gotten attention from around the world, including from his “hero,” Ellen DeGeneres.

Ability App Gets Ellen’s Attention

Knoll reached out to DeGeneres, hoping simply to get the word out about the Ability App. However, he got much more than that when he scored an invitation to appear on her TV show.

During his appearance, he gave a tour of the app prototype, wowing DeGeneres and the audience. She asked Knoll how much money his GoFundMe page had raised so far. Knoll had $350 donated at that point.

Watch Knoll’s appearance and the surprise DeGeneres had for him!

Her generous donation seemed to motivate others to give, too. The Ability App GoFundMe page now has reached more than $6,000 and continues to grow.

Keep up the good work, Alex! The world needs inventors and generous souls like you!