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DIYAbility Empowers People With and Without Disabilities to Make Their World

Student Blog

How can people learn to hack their environments to make everyday tasks simpler, more fun, or more convenient? Holly Cohen and John Schimmel spoke to IxD about how creativity and the maker mindset can change lives through assistive technology.

In a world where new technology is used to solve complex human problems everyday, Holly Cohen and John Schimmel have found a way to change people’s lives with some tinkering and creative thinking.

Holly’s experience as a full-time occupational therapist combined with John’s programming background allow them to fabricate and modify custom assistive technology solutions to meet the specific needs of patients with any type of disability from a vision or speech impairment to a neuromuscular disorder.

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Go Baby Go is a project that DIYAbility has tested from the University of Delaware that easily creates mobility tools for children using ride-on-top Powerwheels cars.

DIYAbility helps to return independence to disabled patients, and explores using both low and high-tech tools to do so. Installing an iPad to control the locks on a front door or thermostat settings can make immobile patients more comfortable in their own homes. Hacking toys to simplify their function or add physical modifications have allowed disabled children to better explore their environments and improve overall development.

In designing a better environment for disabled patients, their families and their caregivers, DIYAbility focuses on creating solutions that make sense based on what a patient can do, not what they can’t. They inspire patients themselves and their closest supporters to be involved in the making process to understand how basic tools we have available to us can allow anyone to think creatively to act on an idea, whether it is for personal fun or assistance.

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John Schimmel and Holly Cohen of DIYAbility

As DIYAbility grows and continues to foster a barrier-free space for design, they aim to grow the maker mindset and challenge people from all different backgrounds and leverage their skills and work together to make our world.

Learn more about the events coming up at IxD and how you can attend.

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