Maker Faire 2016

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by Kim Lathrop, DIgital Access Project Specialist

Recently I had the privilege of attending and working at the 11th annual Maker Faire in San Mateo, CA.

kim lathrop and her TOM cohort. She is wearing a blue shirt and uses a wheelchair and three other gentleman are smiling and standing with their arms around her.

I was at the Faire working with the organization Tikkun Olam Makers (TOM). TOM’s mission is to connect people with disabilities with “makers” and develop solutions for everyday challenges.

Relating to TOM’s message, we asked children to come up with (mini) solutions to real life challenges that people with disabilities face.

Their excitement and eagerness to learn was great!

This is truly a Faire that was unlike any other I have attended before.

Creativity surrounded me spanning from science, engineering and demonstrations, to arts and crafts.

For example, I saw a mechanical squid that was made up of 90% recycled everyday items like bottle caps for the tentacles and vegetable steamers for the eyes. The participants of the Faire were able to move the legs of the squid by turning cranks placed on a fence post that surrounded this giant robotic squid named Mechateuthis.

In addition, there were a variety of 3D printers hard at work creating anything and everything, from vases to childrens’ toys.  I also was able to root on a drone as it competed in a speed race, obstacle course…. and my drone won!

Overall, attending this Faire as a person with a disability who relies heavily on assistive technology for independence, I viewed it as an amazing place to network and meet creators or ‘makers’.

The Maker Faire has the potential to be an important starting place for connecting ‘makers’ and ‘need knowers’ together, enhancing the important movement of including people with disabilities in the assistive technology design process.

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