Domain: Innovation

Themes: Assistive & Accessible Technology

Inclusive Design Challenge 2.0: Creating accessible interfaces for people living with MND, ALS, or MD

Location: United Kingdom, Kenya, Korea

GDI Hub, UCL Computer Science and The International Alliance of ALS/MND Associations hosted a hackathon together to solve accessibility problems using digital devices with participation in three countries (UK, Kenya, and Korea).

"Thank you to all for a fantastic event! I think the students were all brilliant and I welcome these further developments that will serve not only the ALS/MND community but many other communities as well – meeting people where they are at with technologies that improve the quality of life is amazing and awe inspiring!"

Catherine Cummings - Executive Director - International Alliance of ALS/MND

Hackathon - UK based team
Hackathon - UK based team

"I am currently using a computer and a smartphone with a mouse stick. However, it is becoming more difficult to use a smart device outside with a mouse stick in my mouth due to the coronavirus. I am very excited because I think I will be able to solve my difficulties using cutting-edge technology such as mediapipe. What's more meaningful is that we did this event with the UK and Kenya. I hope to have more opportunities like this in the future."

Yang JiWon, Secretary General, The Korean Association of Muscular Disability

A group of people working together during a hackathon event
Hackathon in action

About the event

Theme: Creating accessible interfaces for people living with MND, ALS, or MD

The theme has been divided into these sub-themes for teams to focus on.

  1. Facial gestures for controlling digital devices
  2. Holding and manipulating digital devices


Understand problems and design solutions for people living with MND, ALS, or MD in context of using digital devices.

  1. Encourage knowledge sharing and collaboration between people living with MND, ALS, or MD and researchers, designers, and students across the UK, Kenya, and Korea.

  2. Promote awareness about ALS/MND and disability innovation using participatory design methods, bringing forward disabled people not only as participants in innovation but collaborators, leaders and innovators.

What is MND, ALS, and MD?

Motor neurone disease (MND) affects the nerves that tell your body what to do. There is no cure and people with MND often feel socially and physically isolated, relying on others for everyday tasks, including email.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive nervous system disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing loss of muscle control.

Muscular dystrophy (MD) is a group of diseases that cause progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass. In muscular dystrophy, abnormal genes (mutations) interfere with the production of proteins needed to form healthy muscle.

What is the problem and the possible work-around?

MND, ALS, and MD cause weakness in the hands and the body, getting worse over time. This means that using a phone, tablet or computer becomes harder using hands, eventually impossible.

Using other modalities including eye or facial movement helps to use digital devices to connect people and communities.

Registration - now closed

What’s involved?

The activity will last for 3.5 hours, bringing together students, researchers, clinicians, people with lived experience of disability in a safe environment to hack their way into finding solutions to real problems.

  1. When: Monday, 23rd of May, 2022 from 09:00 to 12:30 BST.
  2. Physical location: UCL Computer Science, 169 Euston Road, London, United Kingdom
  3. Virtual location: Zoom and Miro (details will be shared with registered attendees)

Who can register?

We would like to invite postgraduate students, researchers, clinical professionals at GDI Hub partner institutions, who are interested in designing assistive technologies for people living with MND, ALS, or MD.

Each team may include a:

  • Team leader

  • Researcher or clinician

  • Designer

  • Programmer

Inclusion of people with lived experience of MND, ALS, or MD in your team is a must.

If you haven't yet formed a team, you can meet other people interested in disability innovation hackathon events, at the "Spark Innovation - Teams" channel on our Discord server.


Colour Image of Cathy Holloway
Prof Cathy Holloway
Academic Director and Co-Founder of GDI Hub
Colour photograph of Daniel wearing a white checked shirt and sitting at a desk facing the camera
Daniel Hajas
Innovation Manager


We are grateful to all of the event partners.

UCL Computer Science

A global leader in experimental computer science research, our degree programmes recognise the importance of computer systems in commerce, industry, government and science. Offering teaching by the brightest minds, we create innovative technologies that change lives with computers. The Research Excellence Framework (REF), which assesses the quality of research in UK higher education institutes, ranked us top in its most recent evaluation.

International Alliance of ALS/MND Associations

The Alliance is a global network of ALS/MND associations informed by PALS/CALS, that builds capability for its members and connects to external stakeholders. We help members thrive by adding value to existing and future associations through curation and creation of information and by acting as a global gateway through which Alliance Members, PALS and CALS, internal, and external stakeholders connect.

International Alliance of ALS/MND Associations logo
UCL computer science logo