With COVID-19, virtual assistive technology build events are the “new normal” for Makers Making Change. This hasn’t stopped members of our chapters in Canada and the USA!

As a newly formed group, the New York City Chapter of Makers Making Change started planning their first outreach events for March 2020. Unfortunately, with the COVID-19 pandemic, our Chapter Leaders Loreto and Farrukh had to cancel their 2 info sessions. The sessions were scheduled at Futureworks Makerspace and Brooklyn Public Library. In early April, a group of local NYC chapter members came together to host a virtual session where they discussed outreach ideas. 

Michael Dicipimigaitis of Jericho Adapts was in attendance at the initial meeting and suggested they team up to host some online workshops. So, on May 19 2020,  Michael and Mark Surabian of AT Helps, partnered with Makers Making Change and the NYC Chapter to host a virtual toy hack workshop. The event was a success and there were many attendees that tuned in to learn, Michael walked participants through the process. Attendees included both makers and disability professionals!

“I want to connect makers, health professionals, and users to help solve everyday needs around us..I would love to get the next generation involved and empowered in creating change”-Loreto Dumitrescu

Virtual Assistive Technology Event Video: Learn to Build a Dice Spinner 

On June 30 2020, the NYC Chapter came together to host the Dice Spinner workshop which had 18 attendees! At this virtual assistive technology event, Michael of Jericho Adapts acted as the host, while Loreto and Farrukh joined as co-host and moderator.

What is a Dice Spinner?

A dice spinner is a DIY assistive device that helps a person with fine motor control difficulties roll dice independently. The device includes a motor and enclosure to prevent the dice from rolling off the table. The dice spinner can be operated by an assistive access switch that best suits the user. Makers Making Change has a wide range of switches for fine and gross motor control challenges available in the assistive device library

Cost is estimated under $20 each. Device cost can becomes much cheaper if you have parts on hand(or if you create 6 or more)

The workshop session was recorded and you can watch a recording of the virtual Dice Spinner Workshop here.

(Copy and paste this access password:  [email protected])

virtual assistive technology event dice spinner screenshot of making from above

If you are in the New York area, and know a disability group who needs devices, please add your suggestions for  future virtual build projects here

About Our NYC Chapter

Together, the NYC team has a wide range of maker and disability related knowledge. The chapter is currently  looking for new members who share their passions for DIY assistive tech!
Dr Farrukh Zia iconMichael-a Caucasian teenager sitting infront of his 3D printer and a pile of stuffed animals

Loreto Dumitrescu (left)

Loreto is an occupational therapist and tinkerer. She is interested in unlocking the ways technology can help bring out the best in each student. Loreto is a graduate from Adelphi University with a Masters in Educational Technology. Her OT practice focuses on assistive technology and Universal Design for Learning. She is also the founder of Zero Day Camp, whose mission is to broaden the reach of computing education by offering classes for kids and professional development for educators. In addition to this, Zero Day Camp also designs and disseminates software, tools, and curricula for computer science and robotics education.

Farrukh Zia (middle)

Dr. Zia is a Professor of Computer Engineering at CUNY CityTech. Farrukh earned his Master’s and PhD in Computer Engineering from Syracuse University in 1988 and 1996, respectively. Farrukh’s PhD research work was related to the applications of neural networks and fuzzy logic in controlling robotic systems. In addition to his technical expertise and lifelong involvement with technology based projects and the maker movement, Farrukh has a passion for social justice activities and facilitates several meetup groups engaging CUNYTech students, including Maker Fairies and Girls Who Code 

Michael Dicipimigaitis (right)

Although he is not an official Chapter Leader, Michael is also a key player in building the NYC Chapter. The Makers Making Change team met Michael at the AT Makersfair back in 2018.  At the event, we learned Michael creates and adapts devices for children with disabilities with his group called Jericho Adapts. He told us that he originally learned of the need for adapted toys through his mother Corrine Dicipimigaitis, an Occupational Therapist. With his group, Michael works with various disability organizations to deliver assistive devices such as United Cerebral Palsy Association of Greater Suffolk, Long Island Regional TRAID Center, as well as various local schools.  (photo taken from https://praacticalaac.org)

What’s Next for MMC NYC?

Some new events are in the works! Loreto recently started working with Cale Boudreau and Muhammad Vellani of Hedgehog Technologies. They met first on the Makers Making Change forum and collaborated through the forum on an IoT Silent Door Alarm. The device is designed to alert caregivers of people with dementia if they leave their home. Wandering is common for people with dementia and can be extremely dangerous and disorientating for people affected by the disease as well as worrying to their caregivers. The device uses a a reed sensor and a Node NCU micro controller with internet access/capabilities. The device is attached to a door and when it is opened, it triggers an alert via SMS or email to a caregiver using a MQTT app. Loreto and the NYC Chapter are planning an to host a virtual assistive technology event focused on building these devices for testing. Stay tuned for a blog highlighting the IoT Silent Door Alarm!

What is Makers Making Change?

Makers Making Change pairs makers to people with disabilities who need access to low cost assistive devices. As mentioned above, the site hosts an open source Assistive Devices Library that includes materials lists, design files, and instructions for building DIY assistive technologies, including switches that can be used for accessible gaming!

Makers Making Change has chapters all over Canada and the US! Chapters Leaders are typically disability professionals, makers, high school tech teachers, administrators and robotics teams as well as university students  in biomedical engineering, electrical and mechanical engineering, industrial design, occupational therapy and disability focused programs.  Learn more about starting your own chapter here

chapter map new


Join Makers Making Change!

Are you a Maker?

Are you a Person with a Disability?

  • Request a device for only the cost of materials(and shipping)
  • Make connections to people who care in your community

Are you a Disability Professional?

  • Review our devices to help innovate the way we deliver and create AT
  • Learn how to build Assistive Tech.

Are you an Educator?

  • Learn about our free curriculum
  • Learn about how students can help people with disabilities in their school, families and community.

To learn more about this project and sign up at www.makersmakingchange.com