In commemoration of the International Day of Person with Disabilities, on 6, 7, and 8 December 2023, IOM Türkiye conducted the Innovation for Inclusion hackathon – a hackathon to develop innovative solutions to daily challenges faced by persons with disabilities. The hackathon was organized with the support of Gaziantep University, Teknopark, and Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality.

Throughout the event, 30 participants from the migrant, refugee and local communities, with and without disabilities, worked together in teams to identify challenges faced by persons with disabilities, including visual, hearing and physical barriers. Divided in seven teams, the participants came up with different innovative and technological solutions to overcome daily barriers they face.

On the last day of the hackathon, the teams pitched their solutions to a panel of experts, who selected only one winning idea. The winning team will receive incubation and business development support for a year in order to turn their idea into a business.

The winning team presented a smart watch that supports effective communication for individuals with visual and hearing impairments by translating speech into braille alphabet and providing quick access to documents and credit cards.

Other ideas included a wristband that can be used for deaf parents to alert when their children cry and the development of a user-friendly app designed to assist blind people in navigating various environments autonomously, such as supermarkets or malls.

Hackathons foster community-led innovations by empowering the community to identify relevant issues they face and co-create innovative solutions to address them.

"This event holds unprecedented importance in Türkiye as it has been implemented for the first time, being highly valuable in including technology and innovation knowledge and including persons with disabilities in the process. We were very pleased that for the first time, deaf people were invited. Also, having a sign language interpreter, together with a mentorship system, was really great and helpful,” said Cihangir Yildirim, a deaf participant from Gaziantep.

This hackathon is part of a series of hackathons that aim to develop innovative solutions for pressing social issues, such as labor market integration and climate change. It was made possible with financial support from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM).