Assistive Tech design BY individuals with disabilities

Assistive technology is any object that an individual with a disability uses to increase, improve, or maintain his or her functional capabilities. I want to propose a discussion about maker spaces as places where individuals with various dis/abilities can work independently or with others to make customized and contextually relevant assistive technology. Top-down approaches to assistive technology design consist of professionals and non-disabled people creating things FOR individuals with disabilities. I would like to brainstorm some of the possibilities that could stem from a consumer-driven maker space enabled approach to assistive technology development.

What new inventions and product improvements might result from individuals with impairments leveraging their experiential knowledge of disability and design in everyday life contexts? How can we ensure that people with disabilities play a central role in design regardless of their specific abilities? How do we supplement existing top-down approaches to designing things for individuals with disabilities with an inclusive, interactive, and sustainable model of creating solutions to everyday life issues alongside them? Let’s brainstorm ways to make maker spaces environments where people with disabilities can empower themselves through design.

Categories: Session Proposals, Uncategorized |
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About Jerry Robinson

I am a Ph.D. candidate in the school of information studies at Syracuse University. I earned my B.A. in accounting from Morehouse College in 2004. Before starting graduate school, I worked in the financial services industry as a compensation analytics officer. I consider myself a disability researcher who happens to have a disability. My research interests stem from my personal, professional, and academic experiences figuring out alternative more accessible ways to do things for myself despite my cerebral palsy-related functional limitations. There are many individuals with disabilities like me who naturally adapt when faced with opportunities or challenges. However, our efforts often get overlooked or minimized within the accessible design community. I enjoy learning about different ways people with and without disabilities find new or unique ways to do things. I think it highlights how creative we are as human beings. However, I believe it is important to see and acknowledge that non-disabled bodies are not the only ones that engage in adaptive activities.