As we approach the Access Makeathon, we want to show you the faces of the Access Makeathon and their Access Challenges that teams will address. Our goal is not limited to one piece of assistive technology, but rather is to bring communities of makers and people with disabilities together to ensure solutions are targeted to individual needs and affordable technology.
Ashley is a Paralympian (new window) with cerebral palsy (new window). She wants an invention to assist her arm crutch. One possible direction would be a device on the bottom of her crutch that makes it safer for her to walk in the snow or ice. Another direction could be a self-leveling cup attachment for her crutch that would allow her to carry a cup of coffee or beverage.
Louisa has cerebral palsy and uses a motorized wheelchair. Louisa is a quadriplegic (new window) with limited arm movement. She needs a backpack or something similar that is connected to the wheelchair and which is able to swivel to the side so that she can access it. There are some existing prototypes to draw inspiration from.
Jim had recently suffered a spinal cord injury (new window) and is just returning home from rehabilitation at GF Strong. (new window) His wife is hard of hearing, and he cannot yell due to low lung volume and because he wears a bi-pap mask (new window) to assist his breathing. When he has an issue in the middle of the night that requires assistance, it is difficult to wake her up. At GF Strong, he used a sip and puff (new window) machine to call the nurses. In this instance, his team could hack a LipSync to create a device that uses sip and puff to activate a vibrating device to alert his wife to help him.
Kevin is a T3 paraplegic (new window), and is unable to use his muscles from the top of his chest down. Kevin remains active, both in sports, in the outdoors, and working on Hollywood effects. He has built a prototype for an off-road wheelchair with ATV wheels. The wheelchair is particularly useful in snowy and icy conditions, but he is working on a new frame based on his use to date. He is looking for support in designing an updated frame, fabrication of the metal components, and assembly.
Steve uses a wheelchair for mobility. He goes to movies often, and the thick carpets at the movie theatre often make wheeling difficult. He has spilled his popcorn more than once. He has a cup holder, but needs another holder to clamp on to popcorn. This would hold the popcorn, while he could use both arms to wheel. A modular device could be created and could serve other purposes.
Julie is a high level quadriplegic (new window) with no use of her hands. She was one of the original LipSync testers who had found that the range of motion was too much. Her team will assemble an improved LipSync, with the new force pressure sensor inside, and look at other usability improvements.
When Tom travels for work, he puts his folding wheelchair on the passenger seat of his car and uses the seatbelt to secure it. But this is a poor solution, proven by the fact that on one occasion, he broke the windshield from the inside when the chair slipped out of the seat belt. What he needs is a better securing mechanism for the wheelchair, and it should be modular for a variety of cars as he travels a lot and rents vehicles. This should be something that could take advantage of the seatbelt fixing points, but covers the chair well enough to keep it in place.
Timothy had an anoxic brain injury (new window) when he was nearly two years old and has been recovering ever since. Like many of us, he wishes to play video games, specifically on the Wii (new window). However, he has difficulty with pushing the buttons as well as using the analogue thumb joystick on the nunchuck (new window). He really wants to play Lego Star Wars (new window) and Mario Kart (new window), but each game may require a different custom joystick to enable him to play independently. There is a Wii hacking community and perhaps a mounted steering wheel may help make the Wii accessible for Timothy.
Jarrod has multiple sclerosis (new window), which has made it difficult for him to speak and see, and has left him with very limited movement except for his face. Jarrod communicates using facial gestures to spell out words with the help of another person. Right now, he can hear what people say, and they spell out the letters of the alphabet for him. When he hears the letter that will form part of his sentence, he raises an eyebrow. While this works, it is slow, and does not give Jarrod the ability to communicate independently. His team will build an audio-based system that allows Jarrod to select letters, build sentences, and have them read aloud.
Mark is active during the day and often gets around town using his wheelchair. When someone drives a car, they usually are notified if they start the car but their seatbelt isn’t fastened. This technology isn’t on Mark’s wheelchair, and he has fallen out of his chair more than once, usually resulting in the fire department having to be called to get him back into his chair. Make would like a system that would detect when he is in the chair and alert him to ensure his seatbelt is fastened.
For more information about the Access Makeathon, go to www.MakersMakingChange.com (new window).