Helping Others

September 6, 2017
COURTESY ALEXANDER KNOLL

If you see a problem, you should find a solution. That is what Alex Knoll, 12, of Post Falls, Idaho, believes. So when he noticed a man struggling to open a heavy door from a wheelchair, Alex’s brain started buzzing.

“I wondered if there was a resource available to him to show him which businesses had automatic doors, so he could actually access them,” Alex told TFK. “I couldn’t find anything, so I created it.”

HE'S AN INVENTOR: After seeing a man in a wheelchair struggling to open a door, Alex Knoll created an app to help people with disabilities.

COURTESY ALEXANDER KNOLL

That was three years ago. The idea is Ability App. AbilityApp.org, Alex’s website, says the app will “help people with disabilities and their caregivers navigate public spaces and find safe, reliable services and employment opportunities.”

Talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres liked Alex’s idea so much that she had him on her show and surprised him with a $25,000 check. “I think it’s really going to help me get going,” Alex says.

Making a Difference

Worldwide, there are more than a billion people with some kind of disability, according to the World Health Organization. A disability can make it hard to do everyday activities and find a job.

Tara Miller is a friend of Alex’s family. She uses a wheelchair. She helps Alex with his app by sharing her experience of what it is like to live with a disability. “We all want to be able to be in the same establishments as any able-bodied person,” Miller says. It’s little things, like low tables in restaurants and automatic doors, “that can make a huge difference,” she says.

Alex has yet to set a launch date for Ability App. But he is determined to meet his goal. “I’m going to work as hard as I can and as fast as I can,” he says.