As an Occupational Therapist, Katie Butzu knows affordable custom assistive devices are needed for students in her area. In fact, affordable AT is needed throughout all of Michigan and even the USA. For this reason, Katie and her co-worker Technology Integration Specialist Mark Lyons approached us to start their own chapter of Makers Making ChangeWe interviewed Katie and Mark over video chat in summer 2019. On the video call, they told us about all the amazing projects they work on with the Makey Makey. Their enthusiasm for maker culture and assistive technology was obvious, so we knew we had to have them on our team!

Katie and Mark our Michgian MMC Chapter leaders

Katie and Mark presenting about Makers Making Change at a REMC event

Meet our Michigan Chapter Leaders

Mark Lyons, is the Region 6 Director of the Regional Educational Media Center(REMC). The REMC  Association provides “proactive leadership to the Michigan educational community by participating with other organizations in building a vision that supports quality teaching and learning and provides equity to Michigan’s pre-K-12 students.” In addition to Mark’s work with REMC, he is also the co-founder of the non-profit program All Music Is Power. The project is a fully interactive, musical concert series that reaches kindergarten through post secondary students who receive special education services.

At concerts, local musicians who provide an opportunity for students to enjoy and gain an understanding of music creation. We believe that music is power and empowering to all people, regardless of ability. Students are not only audience members but also have the opportunity for a hands-on experience in their own student-centered learning environment.

Katie is a Pediatric Occupational Therapist currently working in a school based and outpatient setting. She has training and education in the areas of Sensory Integration, Pediatric Feeding, Assistive Technology and ASD evaluating and treatment interventions. 

Katie explains her motivations to start a chapter as follows:

 “(We wanted) to help meet unmet needs of students with disabilities. As an Occupational Therapist, my goal is to increase independence in meaningful occupations of individuals in need.I am also highly interested in the Maker movement and I see there are many ways that Maker’s (can make) for a purpose. ”

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 Assistive Device 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 mmcdev.wpengine.com,  makers can volunteer their times and skills, and requesters can request devices for only the cost of materials.

Growing the Michigan Chapter

Since starting their Michigan Makers Making Change Chapter, they’ve hosted several events to build 2 different access switch designs from the Makers Making Change Assistive Devices Library. As a result of these first events, MMC Michigan has create 53 switches so far!

REMC Michigan member soldering a diy access switch

All switches went to local districts for students they service. Switches were sent to Lenawee Intermediate School District, Ypsilanti Intermediate School District, Manistee Intermediate School District, Ann Arbor Intermediate School District,  as well as Covenant Healthcare. 16 switches were built by Michigan Occupational Therapists and are being utilized at the Disability Network based out of Flint Michigan.

1 light touch switch delivered to an online requester in Burnsville MN,   

Do you Need an Access Switch?

If you, a family member or a client requires an affordable access switch, we have some light touch and rain drop switches to give away free to people with disabilities in Michigan (you only pay shipping!) Read more details on the The Light Touch Switch and The Rain Drop Switch and how they used.

Raindrop switch with finger Light touch switch

If you’d like to request one of these switches or any other switches in our assistive devic library, please follow the directions in the bottom of this post!

Katie and Mark Meet the Makers of ‘Makey Makey’

Katie and Mark recently met with the inventors of the Makey Makey.  At the meeting, they had the opportunity to show off some of the creative ways they’ve utilized the Makey Makey to enhance therapeutic exercises for children with disabilities. Projects include a wide range of fun and creative range of motion and stabilization activities, as well as activities to improve strength and coordination.

The pair have documented some of their projects on their CreATive Makers Youtube Channel below. Also see the list below for opportunities to attend their trainings!

 

What’s next for MMC Michigan?

Katie and Mark secured funding to spread the word of Makers Making Change in their region with the help of the Regional Educational Media Center Association of Michigan(REMC), presented at Saginaw Valley State University and Delta College to students enrolled in education and Occupational Therapy programs. In March, Katie and Mark will present at the MACUL Conference in Grand Rapids, MI. At the conference, attendees will also learn how to assemble low tech AT projects from the Assistive Device Library.

Attend a CreaATive Makers Training with Katie and Mark!

Are you a School Based Occupational Therapist, Speech Language Pathologist or Physical Therapist?

Katie and Mark will also be presenting state-wide trainings (CreATive Makers) funded by REMC. At the trainings, participants will learn how to use Makey Makey and Scratch as tools for activities that are adapted to meet the needs of children with physical and cognitive disabilities. They will also learn about Makers Making Change and participate in a switch build and assembly. The dates and times of the trainings are as follows:

February 22 | 8:30 am – 3:00 pm Monroe County Intermediate School District

April 18 | 8:30 am – 3:00 pm   Gratiot-Isabella RESD

May 9 | 8:30 am – 3:00 pm   Muskegon Area ISD

June 6 | 8:30 am – 3:00 pm   Traverse Bay ISD

Register here for the REMC CreATive Makers Training!

**Also, MMC Michigan will present a series of workshops in association with the Michigan State AT Department. Stay tuned as details become available!**

Join Makers Making Change Michigan!

Volunteer as a Maker: 

  • Volunteer your skills in 3D printing, 3D modelling, laser cutting, designing, soldering, problem solving, event planning, community organizing
  • Help people in your community to live more independently
  • Submit your assistive device designs to our open source library 
  • Explore new skills/possible career paths and make for a purpose

Request a Device:

  • Request a device for only the cost of materials(and shipping)
  • Make connections to people who care in your community
  • Help innovate the way we deliver and create assistive technology

Are you a Disability Professional?

One of the ways Makers Making Change is different than other Open Source Assistive technology groups is that we engage disability professionals to be a part of innovating the assistive technology industry to make it more accessible and affordable to low income clients. 

Sign up now!

  • Go to  www.makersmakingchange.com and sign up! Make sure to click to sign up for our mailing list and forum so you can also hear about events and workshops. 
  • Activate your account! Check your junk mail and make sure to click ‘not junk/mark as safe.’ This way you can receive our communications
  • Fill out your skills and interests and add a profile photo if you like!