Nonprofit makes custom products that improve the lives of New Yorkers with disabilities – Caribbean Life
Eli Ramos, Stefan Henry and Khan Sakeeb all went to high school together. Henry and Ramos connected again at the City College of New York (CCNY). Ramos, originally from the Dominican Republic, was finishing his degree in international relations. Henry, originally from St. Vincent, was studying mechanical engineering. Khan studied chemical and biomolecular engineering at New York University Polytechnic Institute.
Once CCNY announced a new social entrepreneurship program, Khan, Henry and Ramos seized the opportunity, with the idea of portable transport ramps for wheelchair users.
“I was ‘the talker.’ Stefan and Khan were ‘the doers.’ Although we were eliminated from competing for the grand prize of 100,000, the framework for ‘Level the Curve’ – as we called it – was formed,” said Ramos.
Level the Curve (LTC) aims to make life easier for people with disabilities in New York City. To do this, he creates personalized products that are affordable and adapted to the needs of each client. Products that have been created include a fork and spoon holder, which is the organization’s most successful to date.
For example, this product helped a young man living in a retirement home to be a little more independent. “After being unable to feed himself for five years, he was able to eat mashed potatoes without help,” Ramos added.
Other products in development are the Spinal Mobility Therapy Chair – a seating device that attaches to the edge of a bed/mat specifically designed for Lawrence Harding’s spinal mobility technique.
“It’s a technique that Stefan and I attribute to our level of independence,” Ramos continued.
There is also the Vulcan Grip, a universal holder for portable hobby devices.
To be able to provide these products to the NYC disability community, LTC holds annual fundraisers. The ThisAbility Art Showcase features various artists with disabilities, while Field Day offers indoor and outdoor recreational activities with cash prizes.
According to Ramos, the business sector’s challenges with respect to the disability community, in addition to cost and government approval, include a lack of visibility and interest.
“People with disabilities are not directly involved in the design phase. 20% of the world’s population has a disability. It’s the biggest untapped market for technology,” he said.
Ramos wants people to know that he, Henry and Khan, as founders of LTC, create the products themselves. “We are also the end users of our own designs, so they come from a place of lived experience and our acquired know-how,” he said.
The short-term goal for LTC is to mass-produce the fork/spoon holder, while developing a working prototype of the handrails, therapy chair, and Vulcan handle.
The long-term goal is to attract more investors and receive more government contracts to cover operating costs.
“It would free us up to conceptualize additional products and develop an entire product line and online store,” Ramos said.
To stay up to date on all that LTC is doing, you can follow the organization on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. You can also get in touch with LTC on their website, https://www.levelthecurve.com.