Working to Build a More Inclusive Future

22 HAC 029 October Installation Completed

With the goal of building a more inclusive future, the HTB & SIGHT Taenzer Grant Program launched in 2022 thanks to funding from the IEEE Jon C. Taenzer Memorial Fund of the IEEE Foundation. Operated by the IEEE Humanitarian Technologies Board (HTB), this US$175,000 grant focuses on empowering IEEE members around the globe to advance assistive technologies and technological solutions for persons with disabilities and their communities, and supporting engineers in low-resource countries. Over the past two years, HTB funded seven projects within this area of focus and offered a webinar series covering topics that contribute to building a more inclusive future.

One of the projects, awarded funding in both 2022 and 2023, enabled solar-powered electricity to an organization in Jakarta, Indonesia devoted to providing shelter to and nurturing children with disabilities. First, the IEEE team installed an on-grid rooftop photovoltaic power plant to reduce electricity costs and allow the home to use the savings for other purposes benefitting the children. Forty people, primarily residents and therapists, continue to directly benefit from uninterrupted electricity even during local grid outages. In the second phase of work, the team installed additional panels and batteries to maximize the system’s performance to further reduce the organization’s grid electricity consumption and supply excess power to the grid during low use times. The surplus energy was also directed for nighttime compound lighting and the 24-hour operated hydrotherapy pump. 

Another project team in Egypt is currently working to develop accessible, easy-to-use tools for children and adults who are blind or have vision impairment. Children will be able to use one tool, designed as a game, to engage with and learn more about their surrounding environment using both simple and affordable technology. Another phase of the project will provide a digital Braille calculator with Arabic audio feedback for young students, to supplement conventional math education that relies heavily on visual cues. The team will also implement a smart walking stick that engages the Arabic community and meets the needs of the Egyptian blind community as far as language, ease-of-use and affordability. 

In addition to project funding, HTB leaders organized a series of webinars in 2023 to raise awareness of how technology can improve quality of life for people and how to advance technology for humanity. Webinars focus on diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion and strive to increase awareness of how individual and ubiquitous technological presence can provide quality of life for all. Each is available to watch on demand. 

During 2024, HTB will continue to offer funding and support so that IEEE members can apply their technical expertise within IEEE designated fields to challenges faced by a localized community of persons with disabilities or local organizations that serve persons with disabilities. All those interested in applying for funding, or learning more about how to participate, are encouraged to visit the HTB website at

About the IEEE Jon C. Taenzer Memorial Fund of the IEEE Foundation

The IEEE Foundation established the IEEE Jon C. Taenzer Fund in 2019 thanks to a generous bequest from the Estate of Jon C. Taenzer. Taenzer was a renowned research engineer, senior scientist, electronics engineering inventor/patent holder, author, IEEE Life Senior Member prior to his passing in 2019. He designated his bequest to support engineers in developing countries and fund breakthroughs in aids for the disabled. The IEEE Foundation is proudly supporting IEEE programs and incentives that match this IEEE Goldsmith Legacy League member’s philanthropic vision.

Photo caption: IEEE Team members delight in the completion of the on-grid roof top photovoltaic power plant  in Jakarta, Indonesia 

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