Making "making" Accessible

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Assistive Technologies empower individuals to accomplish tasks they might not be able to do otherwise. Unfortunately, a large percentage of Assistive Technologies end up unused or abandoned, leaving people with solutions that are inappropriate for their needs. Low rates of Assistive Technology use occur for many reasons, but common factors include 1) lack of considering user opinion in selection, 2) ease in obtaining devices, 3) poor device performance, and 4) changes in user needs and priorities. By correctly training end-users, clinicians and caregivers to "Do- It-Yourself" (DIY) and create, modify, or build their own solutions we may be able to help more people gain access to the Assistive Technology they desire. A new generation of digital fabrication tools and microcontroller platforms offer exciting possibilities for DIY assistive technologies that may be less expensive and faster to produce than traditional methods. These rapid prototyping tools (machines that manufacture objects quickly so they can be used in the iterative design process) have the potential to make personal-scale manufacturing possible. "Personal-scale manufacturing tools enable people that have no special training in woodworking, metalsmithing, or embroidery to manufacture their own complex, one-of-a-kind artisan-style objects. This technology provides new opportunities for assistive technology users to build their own physical objects, using tools such as Computer Numeric Controlled (CNC) tools that can precisely cut or build a variety of materials. Such tools include 3D printers that can build solid objects out of plastic, laser cutters that can precisely cut (or etch) flat materials (such as cardboard, acrylic, wood, and metal), and multi-axis milling machines that can transform metal into almost any 3D shape. Additionally, there has been a boom in microcontroller kits and platforms that make it easy to create custom devices that output sound, light, or tactile patterns from user interaction, physiological, or environmental sensors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 15th Web for All Conference
Subtitle of host publicationInternet of Accessible Things, W4A 2018
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
ISBN (Electronic)9781450356510
StatePublished - Apr 23 2018
Event15th International Web for All Conference, W4A 2018 - Lyon, France
Duration: Apr 23 2018Apr 25 2018

Publication series

NameProceedings of the 15th Web for All Conference : Internet of Accessible Things, W4A 2018


Conference15th International Web for All Conference, W4A 2018


  • Assistive Technology
  • Do-it-yourself

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications


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