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Blind and Visually Impaired Students to Invent in Nationwide Competition at KSSB

Check your expectations at the door when meeting blind and visually impaired inventors. For people who navigate the sighted world with limited or no vision, innovation is second nature. 

Make48 is delighted to announce our return to the Kansas State School for the Blind (KSSB) makerspace on April 12-14. In this third competition, KSSB students will host and mentor their student peers from six schools for the blind across the country, including Texas, California, Washington, New Mexico, Maryland, and Indiana. 

KSSB students who participated in previous Make48 competitions will serve as Mentors to the visiting contestants, sharing their knowledge and experience in the KSSB’s innovative and accessible makerspace.

30 students and a few adults standing in front of Ace Hardware store
2023 KSSB Teams on a hardware supply run in Kansas City

In this first-of-its-kind collaboration, Make48 and KSSB will spotlight the creativity and ingenuity that are vital life skills for young people who are blind or visually impaired. In the past two years, KSSB has hosted two phenomenal Make48 competitions and advanced one student team to the 2022 Nationals and two student teams to the 2023 Nationals competition. 

“KSSB is thrilled to welcome students and staff from Schools for the Blind across the country for our third Make48 competition,” says Jon Harding, KSSB Superintendent.

“Make48 changes students' perspectives about STEM, builds confidence, and transforms how they feel about their own capabilities,” he says. “Students who are blind or visually impaired are fully capable of thriving in this competition with only a few modifications. And Make48's real-world challenges are proving grounds where students can build their skills and confidence for future success.” 

The students will innovate products in a specific challenge and pitch their product at the end of the 48 hours. Team captains from area organizations will support the students throughout the process from ideation to collaboration with tool techs and meeting with patent attorneys to pitching.

Team Captain Mariah Presley from Trane shares why she supports the event. “It’s exciting to see young people operating outside their comfort zone and experiencing projects and collaboration that help them figure out what they want to do when they get older plus find new interests, hobbies, and friends along the way.”

These creative students welcome the intense challenge of a Make48 invention competition, relishing the opportunity to show what they can do. We know firsthand that students with these disabilities do not let them define or confine them. These students are “all in” when it comes to innovation and teamwork.

Addie (left) and Iris (right) competed at the 2022 competition

Addie Bartels, a KSSB student who competed in the 2022 Make48 competition says, “This competition means proving to ourselves as disabled people or people with visual impairments that we are capable of creating different prototypes and projects.”

Make48 welcomes corporate and community organizations as sponsors of the April event, including The KC Blind All Stars (KCBAS) as the challenge sponsor, the DeBruce Foundation, Wet & Forget, The Blind Spot KC and OrCam. 

“Students who will come from across the country will leave this event with new friends, a better understanding of themselves, and an expansion of their own perceived limitations,” says Harding. “We are grateful to Make48 and their crew of volunteers, team leads, tool techs, and business partners who believe in inclusion, equity, and full access for students who are blind or visually impaired to this amazing competition.”

For more information on how you or your company can get involved, please contact Tom Gray at or LinkedIn.


About Make48

Make48 is a nationwide invention-competition docuseries that gives teams a challenge at the start of a two-day event. With just 48 hours, teams must create a prototype, promotional video, and sales sheet, and present their idea to a panel of judges. The teams have access to a makerspace and numerous Tool Techs that can make almost anything, patent attorneys, marketing experts, and more. This format allows everyone to have a level playing field and the chance to win, with no prior technical knowledge necessary. 

Kansas State School for the Blind

Kansas State School for the Blind is a fully accredited public high school located in Kansas City, Kansas, U.S., serving students in grades Pre-K through 12. The school was established in 1867. It is located on 10 acres located in downtown Kansas City, Kansas. Kansas State School for the Blind is a State Agency dedicated to the education of students who are visually impaired or blind. KSSB has some of the most talented and creative teachers to be found anywhere. Most are licensed specialists in Blindness and Visual Impairments and many have additional specializations such as math or science or areas of disability (i.e., Deaf-Blind or Learning Disabilities). All staff members function as a part of a multidisciplinary team that guides the education of each student. Among these team members are Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists, Rehabilitation Teachers, Social Workers, a Music Therapist, Nurses, a Dietary Specialist, Occupational and Physical Therapists, a School Psychologist, a Low Vision Optometrist, an Activity Therapist, Braille Transcribers, and a Speech Therapist.

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