There is a small but growing movement among people with disabilities, engineers, students, families, and others who cherish personal independence and freedom of choice to take access to Assistive Technology (AT) to its next stage.
This is an opportunity for all of us to gain control over the tools we need to support ourselves in truly customized ways. It is just beginning, but this movement to control how we design, create and use AT is something we all need to embrace within our local communities.
About the ATMakers Movement
How does this initiative propose to accomplish an effective collaboration?
ATMakers.org is an experiment in solving problems in Assistive Technology using the skills and tools of the Maker community. In short, we’ve seen tools in the Open-Source Hardware and Software community that can be incredibly useful for people with severe physical and cognitive challenges – we’d like to help introduce these communities to each other.
Founded by Bill Binko, co-founder and principal technologist at LessonPix.com, we hope to provide descriptions and instructions that allow a community of Makers (for example a high-school robotics club or regulars at a MakerSpace) to build customized technology solutions for Assistive Technology Professionals and individuals whose lives would be enriched by them.
AT Makers sees the solution to access as needing local collaboration between people with science and engineering backgrounds, AT professionals, and users of AT. The immediate outcomes are building relationships between existing stakeholders:
STEM clubs & Robotics Teams
- Complete service projects with our step-by-step guides
- Apply your skills where they’re needed today
AT Professionals & Users
- Find Makers in your area who can help
- Learn about new technology you need
Makers & Engineers
- Bring your skills to bear on today’s AT problems
- Help mentor the next generation of AT Engineers
The Guides that ATMakers have developed involved straightforward projects that can be used to create ongoing collaboration around more sophisticated projects at larger scale. These guides can be found at http://atmakers.org/category/guides/ and include such ideas as:
- How to get your AT pieces printed when you don’t have a 3D printer
- Making 3D printed Switches
- 3D printed Camera Mounts
- IOS Switch Controls on a budget using Bluetooth keyboards
- An end-to-end video of how to make the Cariboo Adaptation
- Connecting an AT switch as a PC keyboard for under $20
We don’t have to wait until some large medical manufacturer or medical supply system decides that our AT needs will produce enough revenue to warrant design and production. ATMakers says that we can do much of what we need by working together using community skills and lived experience to actually begin to customize what we need at a reasonable cost.
We have to become more conversant with the latest production and manufacturing technologies, and we have to find the people with the skills to help us make this real. These people are already in our high schools and elsewhere in our communities and they are already interested in taking on challenging new projects that will actually be of use in our community.
Time to reach out, learn together, and build what we need!