HuskyADAPT… adapts!

Boxes of of many different colorful toysForegroud: woman wearing clear glasses smiling behind mask. Background: woman holding toy smiling behind mask next to car

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!

HuskyADAPT toy hackathon event with Microsoft

Younger woman in purple giving a presentation on two projection screens in a design space while a many others wearing green shirts look on Several people, two in green shirts and one in a black shirt, listen to a young gentleman in a gray jacket as he talks about the toys in front of him

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.

Groups of people sitting around wooden tables with parts strewn about, many of them wearing greens shirts, with a younger gentleman writing on a white board with another gentleman smiling at the table and examining what he is writing  A woman wearing a orange jackets and black shirt and a man wearing a green shirt smiling while holding a toy in front of a workshop

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.

Large group of individuals smiling in a workshop while holding toys

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.

IdeaGen: Inclusive Design

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.

Kat Steele with microphone seated next to Jacob Wobbrock and Oscar Murillo on the panel.

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 and exhausting):

A white poster board covered with sketches of the speakers, quotes, and notes from IdeaGen. The bottom left corner includes sketches of the panel.

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.

Kat Steele speaking on panel with microphone and a pink shirt. Quote reads: "Disability should be celebrated as a part of diversity and a multifaceted community."

The fancy graphic from IdeaGen for serving on the panel.

HuskyADAPT featured on GeekWire

Students and community members gather on campus for the HuskyADAPT Inclusive Design & Engineering Showcase.

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.

Read more here: https://www.geekwire.com/2019/inclusive-design-accessible-tech-spotlight-univ-washington-student-showcase/

Research Experience Undergraduates Present at CSNE

This summer the Steele Lab had the pleasure of hosting three undergraduate researchersJulia 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.

Three undergraduates, in their early twenties, stand arm in arm as they smile for the photo. They are dressed in business casual attire and behind them hangs a series of scientific posters on biomechanics.

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.

Julia Costacurta and her mentor for the 2018 summer, Michael Rosenberg, stand in front of her scientific poster evaluating the impact of ankle foot orthosis stiffness on transient walking.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.

Preston Pan, in a white collared shirt and blazer, stands in front of his scientific poster evaluated a proposed motion tracking algorithm for bimanual movement.

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?