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.