As we start off 2023, we wanted to take a look back at 2022.

It was an incredible year for Makers Making Change. Over the course of the year, we hosted and participated in 164 events, we delivered 2,382 devices to people with disabilities, engaged 3,242 volunteers, and our #HackingForTheHolidays campaign was a huge success.

Expanded Focus

two students show off their switch adapted Peppa Pig

In the spring, we launched our Youth Making Change initiative. Youth Making Change provides STEM educational programming for youth under 30 in Canada through build events and similar events, all while providing people with disabilities affordable assistive devices made at these events.

Our team hosted 88 events with schools as part of the Youth Making Change program, and over the course of the year, we expanded the scope of the initiative to include youth under 30, allowing us to partner with universities, maker spaces, and more.

college students working at a build event

Staying in the postsecondary space, later in the year we also launched our Clubs That Care program. The Clubs That Care program supports Canadian university or college groups to build affordable assistive technology. Groups like engineering clubs, community service organizations, academic societies, and sports clubs can help us deliver affordable assistive devices to the community.

We currently have clubs at the University of British Columbia, the University of Victoria, and McGill University (among others) participating in our Clubs That Care program. If you are interested in bringing Makers Making Change to your campus, sign up here. (No technical experience required!)

two children playing an Adaptive Gaming demo

While we’ve always had a focus on Adaptive Gaming, this year we kicked our efforts into high gear. In August, we released our Adaptive Gaming Resource, with something for everyone — from beginners to Adaptive Gaming to long-time gamers who may need a few more adaptations. Our team has been adding a variety of Adaptive Gaming devices into the library, and have been working to provide gaming solutions for people with disabilities and organizations throughout the last year.

Gaming provides a great opportunity for creating social connections, and is also a very powerful tool in rehabilitation. You will be hearing a lot more about our Adaptive Gaming initiative in 2023.

Research and Development

The LipSync X alpha version in front of a laptop

Our Research and Development team has been very busy over the past year adding devices to the library and working on larger projects.

We added a total of 56 device designs to the library, which brought the library total up to over 200. These new devices were a mix of designs submitted directly by our community, designs curated and documented by our team, and designs developed internally. We’ve made good progress on our OpenAT documentation templates to help ensure that these and future designs have the necessary information and files to make them easy to use, make, and improve upon.

Some of the larger projects include developing and beta testing the new LipSync X, working with AbleGamers on an updated version of the Freedom Wing Powerchair Joystick Adapter for gaming, and developing several OpenAT Gaming Joysticks. We’ve made substantial progress on these and are looking forward to releasing them to the community soon.

#HackingForTheHolidays

a Makers Making Change staff member helps out a family at a build event in New Brunswick

Our #HackingForTheHolidays campaign was a tremendous success. Thanks to your support, we raised $28,578, and at our latest count, delivered 649 adapted toys and 952 switches to children with disabilities across Canada.

We hosted over 100 events from coast to coast, with participants including schools, corporate supporters, and community organizations.

“[It’s] an opportunity for Matthew to experience an event that is about him and for him. There’s not a lot of events that are specifically for children with disabilities,” Janet, mother of Matthew, a child with a disability who both participated in our build in Fredericton and took home a toy, told CBC.

A toddler girl in a stroller playing with a spinning light wand with an assistive switch. The toy and switch is held by her mom on the left

“We’re very grateful as parents,” says Esther, mother of Mikaela, who received an adapted Spinning Light Wand Toy and an Adapted My Walking Pet, along with two pink Interact Switches, the very first adapted toys she’s ever owned. “These toys are really neat for her to be able to learn that cause and effect, and be able to engage with toys, where she wouldn’t really be able to.

“Some people may say it’s just a toy, but for her it’s huge.”

We couldn’t have done it without your support.

Thank You!

Thank you to everyone in the Makers Making Change community and all of our supporters for helping us achieve another successful year for our program. Here’s to a great 2023!