The maker movement has been around for more than a decade, it involves crafters, artists and tech people who like to create fun and interesting designs and technologies.
In fact, Newcastle-upon Tyne held the first ever MakerFaire in the UK in 2009, where hundreds of people showed off their crafts, art and tech projects.
Empowering Hacks is a project from Newcastle University’s Open Lab set up by PhD student Janis Meissner, Nick Packman and Norman Platt to empower everyone to get involved in DIY-making, and make the maker movement accessible for all.
In just four years Nick and Norman who both identify as disabled went from novices to makers, as they worked with Janis to improve their skills in 3D printing, electronic programming and more. They want to share their love of making with others, and get as many people as possible involved in ‘DIY making’.
This is why on February 21, they are inviting people to come to an event on Empowering Hacks: how can we make ‘DIY making’ accessible to all?
3D-printed wheelchair handles
As part of Empowering Hacks, they created a set of 3D-printed handles for powered wheelchairs.
Wheelchair golf balls are a popular ‘hack’ for modifying the joystick shape on the control panel of power wheelchairs. Starting from here, Nick and Norman replicated the golf balls and went onto to make a set of 15 differently shaped designs for wheelchair handles, ranging from T-shapes and ring cones to mushrooms.
At the event, people can test out the different handle designs in an obstacle course laid out in the Urban Sciences Building at Newcastle University.
If you want to take part on the course you can either bring your own power wheelchair, or you can use one of the two wheelchairs that we will have for the event (both right and left-handed).
If you need help transitioning to a chair, then please bring someone along with you.
Inspring everyone to try out making
Alongside this, Nick and Norman are hoping to inspire others to get involved in DIY making and want to talk to people about what they could do next. This can be anything, not only assistive based technologies, so bring your ideas.
There will also be a chance to talk to people in Open Lab about how we can make ‘MakerSpaces’ accessible for people with various needs.
This event hopes to be a space for everyone to talk about how we can make DIY making accessible for all, and will be fun and informative. It will be open to everyone, all ages! We want as many people as possible to come and learn about making.
The important stuff
Empowering Hacks: how can we make ‘DIY making’ accessible to all?
Date: 21 February
Time: 1:30-pm – 3:30pm
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