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Google has launched an initiative to support emerging technologies that help people with disabilities live more independently. The Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities program announced Tuesday will award up to $20 million in grants to nonprofits that work on assistive technologies. The grants will be funneled through Google's charitable arm, Google.org.

"The Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities will seek out nonprofits and help them find new solutions to some serious 'what ifs' for the disabled community," Google.org director Jacquelline Fuller said in a blog post. "We will choose the best of these ideas and help them to scale by investing in their vision, by rallying our people and by mobilizing our resources in support of their missions."

To kick things off, Google announced initial support for two organizations: a $600,000 grant to the Enable Community Foundation, which creates 3-D printed prosthetic limbs for children, and a $500,000 award to World Wide Hearing for the development of a low-cost tool kit for hearing loss using smartphone technology.

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— James Eng