Many University of Washington Mechanical Engineering student clubs had to think outside the (toy)box and overcome disruptions caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic, but few have adapted as well as HuskyADAPT lead by the SteeleLab’s very own Alyssa Spomer and Nicole Zaino.
This year they pivoted to have virtual workshops to continue providing students with hands-on-experience modifying toys, and contactless donation events to keep up the distribution of free adapted toys throughout western Washington.
Way to go Alyssa, Nicole, and all HuskyADAPTers! Keep it up!
Alyssa Spomer along with HuskyADAPT (Accessible Design & Play Technology) hosted the first-ever adapted toy Hackathon with Microsoft. The event combined design and toy adaptation, as teams of HuskyADAPT students and Microsoft employees worked together to adapt toys and develop new designs for adapted toy switches and switch mounts.
Over 25 Microsoft employees joined 20 students, including the Steele Lab’s own Alyssa Spomer, Nicole Zaino, Charlotte Caskey, and Elijah Kuska, in the CoMotion MakerSpace for this community-focused and adaptive driven workshop.
During the day-long hackathon, over 20 toys were adapted to incorporate a new switch mechanism to facilitate play and several new inexpensive switches, toy-type converters, and switch mounting systems were designed and prototyped. Thank you to the Microsoft employees, for their willingness and commitment to assist those in need, the CoMotion MakerSpace volunteers, for allowing us to use their space, and our HuskyADAPT team and lab members, for their dedication to outreach events.
Dr. Kat Steele and lab alumni, Dr. Heather Feldner, were on the The Accessible Technologies & Inclusive Design Panel at the IdeaGen Global Innovation Summit hosted by Micrsofot on June 7, 2019. Scott Saponas served as the moderator, asking tough questions about how to encourage and expand inclusive design. A large portion of the summit celebrated the increasing inclusion of women in tech and entrepreneurial fields, while also highlighting the remaining barriers and challenges. We hope our panel also sparked reflection on ability as an important dimension of diversity that has important implications for the design and engineering of inclusive products, environments, and experiences.
The panel also included Dr. Jacob Wobbrock from UW and Oscar
Murillo from Microsoft. This was another reminder of the powerhouse of
accessibility researchers at UW and in the Seattle-area. An artist was
capturing the summit through illustration – the whole day (it looked amazing
One of the challenging questions Scott asked was our favorite examples of successful inclusive design. I still find it disappointing that this is a challenging question. We have our classic examples – curb cuts, closed captioning, power toothbrushes, Oxo products – that have made life easier for many, but were originally conceptualized through the inclusion of individuals with diverse abilities.
There should be many more examples of success. This should be an easy question where we can quickly call to mind all of the outstanding examples in the world that celebrate the inclusion of individuals with diverse abilities in the design process and make our daily life more inclusive.
What are your
favorite examples of inclusive design?
What technologies make
you excited for a more inclusive world?
You can learn more, find resources, and join the community through AccessEngineering.
The fancy graphic from IdeaGen for serving on the panel.
The HuskyADAPT Inclusive Design & Engineering Showcase was last week where students presented the projects that they have been working on for the past year. These ranged from a kayak paddle attachment for individuals with upper limb differences, an accessible and functional stylus for individuals with muscular or cognitive impairments, and a universal wireless switch for adapted toys.
This summer the Steele Lab had the pleasure of hosting three undergraduate researchers – Julia Costacurta from Johns Hopkins, Joe Lawler from the University of Washington, and Preston Pan from the University of Washington.
After a competitive selection process, students are offered a 10-week internship here at the University to work directly with a research lab on campus. One of the program’s final deliverables is a presentation of their work, both in podium and poster format, to members of the local and scientific community. Congratulations to Julia, Joe, and Preston for their successful time here in the lab, and for giving polished presentations.
Julia’s work explored the impacts of Ankle-Foot Orthoses on transient gait, a period of walking where little is currently known about device dynamics.
Preston worked directly with Seattle Children’s Hospital to implement algorithms for detecting bimanual hand movement before, during, and after a common therapy used to promote improved motor skills for children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy.
Joe’s focus this summer involved working with the University of Washington HuskyADAPT program. HuskyADAPT is a student-run program in its second year and stands for Accessible Design and Play Technology. Joe’s research question asked, how we can improve upon and further promote an inclusive and sustainable program for assistive technology?