Audiobooks, voice recognition, electric toothbrushes, even bendy straws: these everyday items began as design solutions for people with particular accessibility needs.
Now people with a disability who have a specific accessibility need can meet up with a diverse group of professionals who have specialised know-how in design solutions.
The TOM Makeathon is a weekend workshop where mixed teams of people with lived experience, skills and knowledge will co-design to build prototypes that solve such needs.
Applications are open for both "need-knowers" with lived experience and "makers" (engineers, tradies, designers, allied health workers) who offer skills-based solutions.
Recent prototypes have included robotic arms, powered crutches, bespoke exercise machines, and more. Intellectual property is shared as open source so others can use or develop it.
Ideally, products will also have commercial appeal as a solution for many other people, and the open source ethos ensures products can continue to be iterated and shared.
Vision Australia has partnered with the non-profit organisation TOM: Melbourne to help facilitate the weekend with some of our specialist staff in assistive technology.
"One of our Vision Australia consultants wanted to participate," said national manager of digital access, Josh Crawford. "Vision Australia has also been involved previously."
Vision Australia and TOM: Melbourne are seeking participants to submit their interest by the Sunday August 7 deadline via the online portal.
"Participants could be involved as "mentors, makers or 'need-knowers'; that is, people with live experience of disability with a design challenge to be solved," Josh said.
Vision Australia will also support the weekend workshop by providing a mentor from our assistive technology team.
"Vision Australia wants to train the next generation of makers on inclusive design, so for us, it is close to our mission to raise awareness while making life easier." Josh said.
The next Makeathon is on the weekend of September 17-18 at Monash University (Clayton campus), but participants must register by Sunday August 7.