This Makerspace Brings STEM Students Together to Hack Wheelchairs

Alice Shriver

Surviving serious injuries and brain trauma from a car accident, I have gained an appreciation in my ongoing recovery for the struggles to maintain one’s identity and independence – both financial and spiritual. This life-changing event has compelled me to help empower individuals of all abilities.

421 Articles

By Alice Shriver

Surviving serious injuries and brain trauma from a car accident, I have gained an appreciation in my ongoing recovery for the struggles to maintain one’s identity and independence – both financial and spiritual. This life-changing event has compelled me to help empower individuals of all abilities.

421 Articles

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The Maker movement attracts people of all disciplines into a world where they can create, make, or customize. At 505access, we are working to cultivate individual self-reliance and community empowerment in the Land of Enchantment (aka New Mexico) through accessibility technologies. To realize this aspiration, we are connecting and collaborating with local makerspaces, non-profits, and state organizations.

In partnership with a local organization for the homeless and near-homeless, our wheelchair clinics provided free basic care and maintenance along with modifications of wheeled mobility devices. Don’t be stuck with humdrum, factory issue “one-size-fits-all” – customizations can range from functional to whimsical!

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We have recently partnered with an Albuquerque not-for-profit charter high school to help empower the next generation of young adults to make a positive impact in people’s lives. Students participate in a hands-on exploration of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM). The skills and knowledge they gain are used in projects that help New Mexicans with disabilities through the NM Technology Assistance Program. Students will create a customizable capacitive touch keyboard as a springboard into making accessible devices. Students will be encouraged to innovate on the original design while being mindful of costs and usability. With the greater availability of affordable DIY components, students are only limited by their imaginations.

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Fun workshops that introduce kids to simple electronics or coding are ways in which 505access helps to cultivate and encourage understanding of our increasingly complex world. Through outreach workshops with local and national organizations, 505access hopes to spread our enthusiasm in life-long learning (and tinkering) to kids of all ages! We recognize that these partnerships and contributions within our communities are essential to all our future successes.