KM Steele, B Blaser, M Cakmak (2018) “Accessible Making: Designing makerspaces for accessibility” International Journal of Designs for Learning

Journal article in International Journal for Designs for Learning


The purpose of makerspaces is to increase access to “making” among the general community. Because of this social justice orientation, it is important to consider how welcoming and accessible makerspaces are to individuals with diverse abilities, including individuals with disabilities. This design brief examines a three-step process used to make a university-based makerspace more accessible and welcoming to
individuals with disabilities including a tour, design activity, and brainstorming session. The process helped identify simple changes that were made to the makerspace, as well as increasing student, faculty, and community access. Using a similar process, other makerspaces could improve the accessibility of their spaces, procedures, and tools.

Makerspaces provide the general community with a space to brainstorm, prototype, and create. Considering this, it is especially important to create a welcoming environment for individuals with diverse abilities, including individuals with disabilities.

To read the article in full, CLICK HERE.Students participate in a prototyping challenge in our makerspace exploration.



Brianna Goodwin and Ben Shuman each selected as travel award winners

Congratulations to Brianna and Ben on being selected as two of the 23 awarded out of 272 applicants.

The De Luca Foundation informed Brianna that she had been selected as a winner of a 2018 Student Travel Award for funding to travel to the American Society of Biomechanics this summer. Her research focuses on “Wearable Technology to Monitor Hand Movement During Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy”.

Likewise, the foundation named Ben 1 of 8 student recipients of the travel award that will help fund his travels to Dublin for the World Congress of Biomechanics. His winning research topic was that “Pre-treatment synergy activations are associated with post-treatment gait in cerebral palsy”.


Steele Lab Presents at the Northwest Biomechanics Symposium (NWBS)

The Steele Lab had a great time presenting their research at the Northwest Biomechanics Symposium on May 4-5th, 2018 in Bellingham, WA. Ben Shuman, Brianna Goodwin, Claire Mitchell, and Keshia Peters all gave podium presentations during the conference, and Madelyn Lew, Leif Wesche, Alyssa Spomer, Michael Rosenberg, and Karley Benoff gave poster presentations.

A big congratulations to Alyssa Spomer and Karley Benoff for being awarded best graduate and undergraduate student posters, respectively, for the entire conference.

The Northwest Biomechanics Symposium is a student-friendly conference and incorporates research labs from all of the Northwest, including Canada. Irene Davis, a professor at the Harvard Medical School and Director of the Spaulding National Running Center, provided a great Keynote address to the conference attendees.

Nataliya, Ben, Keshia, Brianna, and Heather all pose arm in arm near a Western Washington University campus sculpture during the walk to the Symposium dinner. Leif, Madelyn, Ben, Claire, Karley, Alyssa, Brianna, Heather, Michael, and Keshia all pose in front of a Bellingham Bay sunset after dinner and trivia during the Northwest Biomechanics Symposium at Western Washington University. Michael Rosenberg, wearing a blue dress shirt and slacks, points towards a method figure on his poster while sharing about his research at the Northwest Biomechanics Symposium. Three community members look on and learn from Michael and his research poster. Claire Mitchell presents her research via a podium presentation. A slide is up on the projected screen describing muscle synergies and how they are processed. Brianna, Alyssa, Claire, and Heather sit in the auditorium seating during a brief break in podium presentations during the Northwest Biomechanics Symposium in Bellingham, WA Madelyn, Karley, Leif, and Ben smile while they sit in the auditorium seating during a brief break in podium presentations during the Northwest Biomechanics Symposium in Bellingham, WA Karley Benoff stands in front of her poster on upper-extremity orthoses in a white blouse and black slacks. She helps two graduate students from Simon Fraser University try on her orthotic device while explaining the device's mechanics and intended uses. Alyssa Spomer stands facing her poster and wears a teal blouse and black skirt. She gestures toward her experimental setup figure within her poster's method section while explaining her research to an onlooking member of the scientific community.

Claire Mitchell Presents Her Senior Capstone in BioE

Congratulations, Claire, on finishing your undergraduate capstone and for providing a fantastic culminating presentation!

For her senior capstone, Claire was challenged with creating a web-based application clinicians could use to compute and translate muscle synergies into the clinic. Her mentors and fellow collaborators were Ben Shuman, Nick Baicoianu, and Dr. Kat Steele. In June, Claire will head to Boston, MA to begin her position at Delsys.

Claire Mitchell stands by a projection of her presentation in an auditorium. She is providing a live demonstration of her web based application.

Claire Mitchell, Karley Benoff, and Makoto Eyre present at the Mary Gates Research Symposium

On May 18th, Claire Mitchell, Karley Benoff, and Makoto Eyre presented their research at the Mary Gates Undergraduate Research Symposium. These three students worked on year-long projects and showcased their hard work during a campus-wide poster session.

Claire’s research focused on creating a website and server framework for clinicians and researchers across the country to use for calculating muscle synergies for motor control analysis. Muscle synergies are an incredibly complex and computationally expensive analysis of electromyography data but provide quantification of motor control and assist in therapy prescription for movement disorders.

Claire Mitchell, and undergraduate student in the Steele Lab, stands in front of her poster at Mary Gates Hall during the undergraduate research symposium. Claire is wearing a white and blue floral blouse. She is in the middle of describing her research project to four community members who have taken an interest in her research.

Makoto Eyre and Karley Benoff stand nearly back to back in front of their poster at Mary Gates Hall during the undergraduate research symposium. Makoto is facing to the left of the poster, and is wearing glasses, a white button up shirt and black slacks while conversing with members of the community outside of the images capture. Karley Benoff has shoulder length brown and blonde hair and is wearing a pink blouse while helping to fit a member of the community with her 3D-printed device at the elbow. Karley and the female community member are making sure the device's elbow joint is aligning well with the community member's elbow.







Karley and Mako’s research focused on designing and testing a 3D-printed elbow-driven orthosis for individuals with limited hand function. They drew inspiration from upper-extremity prosthetic devices and evaluated a voluntary close and voluntary open mechanism to assist an individual’s dominant limb.

Great work Karley, Mako, and Claire!

The interior courtyard of Mary Gates Hall has interior windows and a combination of new and old architectural elements. This is the location where hundreds of undergraduate presenters and community members discuss research accomplishments and next steps.