What if, as the computing revolution was really taking off in the 1980s, there had been a concerted effort to get disabled people involved? By the 1990s and 2000s the disabled community would likely have seen significant benefits from this effort. In the Making is examining whether we can do the same thing now with digital fabrication technologies, allowing disabled people to be at the forefront of the personal manufacturing revolution.
In the first stage of the project, we conducted a survey of makerspaces and similar facilities to scope out existing use by disabled people and outreach activities to bring in excluded communities. We identified a series of social benefits around makerspaces, including acting as a social space, supporting personal wellbeing and supporting the local community. These were not just benefits for disabled people, but for the entire area in which makerspaces are located.
In the second stage of the project, we are running a series of maker workshops around Salford to introduce disabled people to digital fabrication technologies, and to identify how we can best empower people to make the most of it. We will conclude in June 2016 with a conference in MediaCity exploring our findings and discussing ways forward.
Taylor, N., Hurley, U. and Connolly, P. (2016). Making community: the wider role of makerspaces in public life. Proceedings of CHI 2016, ACM, 1415–1425. doi:10.1145/2858036.2858073
3D printing: a disability revolution? BBC News, 4th August 2015.
Disabled entrepreneurs and new technology. E&T Magazine, 6th November 2015.
In the Making: a Co-Constructed Mapping and Feasibility Study of Digital Fabrication Labs and their Potential to Catalyse Cultural Change. AHRC (AH/M006026/1). Jan 2015–Jun 2016. In collaboration with University of Salford and Disability Rights UK.