Alice Shriver of 505 Access shows off her DIY assistive technologies

DIY assistive technologies have been part of Alice Shriver’s  practice for year. With her company Nexus Abilities,  she works with different New Mexico organizations to share and make Do-It-Yourself Assistive Technologis (DIY AT) at workshops across the state. In these hands-on workshops, participants “use household materials (shelf liners, rubber/silicone self-adhesive tape, etc.) as well as instructions we provide to make their own custom AT to take home.”  

We met Alice at the Nation of Makers Conference(NOMCON) in 2018.  When we met, she showed us some of her awesome assistive tech designs including a DIY Privacy Stand , a DIY Easy Stylus, a DIY Easy Grip, a DIY Tablet Stand and more. She also showed me some of the project she built with Digital Arts and Technology Academy students in collaboration with teacher Aaron Jawson. 

Later, our paths crossed again at several DIY assistive technologies building events hosted by the Bellingham Makerspace in Washington. During her time in Bellingham, Alice participated in a Holiday Toy Hack event, the Electronic Arts Switch Buildathon and the Memory Loss Music Box build with Mary and Veronica, our Washington Chapter Leaders!  As luck would have it, in  fall 2019, Alice moved back to Albuquerque, New Mexico, which marked the start of our Albuquerque Chapter of Makers Making Change!

Alice and Veronia make DIY assistive technologies

What is Makers Making Change?

Makers Making Change pairs makers to people with disabilities who need access to low cost assistive devices. Their website hosts a Project Library of open source devices that includes material lists, design files, and instructions for building DIY assistive technologies. Some projects in the library include switches for electronic devices like accessible gaming, AAC devices and toys. The library also has files to create simple eating and grooming aids for daily life. One of the highest tech projects is the LipSync; a mouth controlled sip and puff mouse. On www.makersmakingchange.com,  makers can volunteer their times and skills, and requesters can request devices for only the cost of materials. In order to read more about how our site works on our Roles and Responsibilities page.

Introducing Makers Making Change’s Albuquerque Chapter

Around the time Alice returned to New Mexico, we received an enthusiastic and very professional sounding email from Will Ford . As a grade 11 student at Albuquerque’s Bosque School, Will had recently participated in a summer co-op with Ben Salatin; a Rehabilitation Engineer and maker at the Raymond G. Murphy Veterans HospitalAs a fellow DIY Assistive technologies nerd, we already knew of Ben’s work; he had generously shared some of his open source custom mounting designs with our team at Makers Making Change.

During his cooperative education experience, Will learned he loved assistive tech;

“After volunteering at the NMVAHCS this summer with a Rehab Engineer, I decided making assistive tech was something I wanted to do… I want to lead a chapter to help people in my community, as well as inspire others to do the same”

After sending in his application, Will quickly enlisted his friend Victoria to help run the chapter. They quickly gained the support Anna Rutins, Bosque School’s Service Learning Director, as well as the faculty sponsors Louis Scuderi and Matt Fike. Soon after, we introduced the Bosque School team to Alice.  Together, the group started planning a series of outreach events and workshops to raise awareness about the DIY assistive technologies Makers Making Change and Nexus Abilities offers.  They plan to engage the local chapter to distribute low cost assistive tech to people who need it most!Bosque school DIY assistive technologies

What is Makers Making Change?

Makers Making Change is an innovative community based initiative that connects makers to people with disabilities to create affordable open source assistive technologies. We utilize emerging technology and online communities such as the open source movement, the maker movement and the crowdsourcing movement. Makers Making Change hosts an open source assistive device Project Library  as well as a matchmaking service for people with disabilities to request device from volunteer makers.

Makers donate their skills and time, people with disabilities pay only the cost of supplies and shipping(if applicable)

Growing the New Mexico Chapter

In Oct 2019, Alice visited Louis’s classroom to host a presentation. Later, Will hosted a booth with Makers Making Change at Bosque’s Project Serve event. In the new year, Will and Victoria followed up with a small switch build at Bosque on Jan 11th.  The event trained chapter members on the skills required to mentor other students at diy assistive technologies workshops. At the first build, chapter members created 20 switches. New Mexico Technology Assistance Program (NMTAP) and the remainder will be donated to disability professionals and their clients based on local need.

To follow up, the MMC New Mexico Chapter mentored Jefferson Middle School students in their own switch build Feb 21, 2020.

students gather to build DIY assistive technologies Bosque school w/ 505 access

Bosque school an Access 505 diy assistie technologies build at jefferso

What’s Next for MMC Albuquerque?

Pending the removal of the social distancing protocols re COVID-19, Alice and Will have a few events on their radars.

Re-scheduled:  September 14th and 15th, 2020. New Mexico NM Tap ACT 20 Conference. Alice will be presenting ATC20 ! Register here here to attend the conference.  View the schedule

Alice will present a session on Monday, September 14th.  Bosque students will assist Alice with demonstrations at the ATC20’s  Educational Session, but also, will have their own exhibitor booth where they will demonstrate devices from the Bosque School Buildathon as well as other MMC AT.

May 9 2020:  ABQ Mini Makerfaire : Update: Cancelled due to COVID-19

They are also planning a Toy Hack and switch build event for the holiday season

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