I gave a short talk at the Aaron Swartz Day Hackathon about my new project, Disability Technology Foundation. Its goal is to open license assistive tech of all kinds; to archive and share plans on how to build your own helpful devices, from pen holders to powerchairs. We’ll be aiming to provide an easy pathway for inventors, especially disabled inventors, to freely share the tools they have created with the world. Then, others can try out these devices, share bug reports and troubleshooting or repair tips, and adapt and improve the original designs.
Here’s the talk description:
Disabled people are often locked into using proprietary hardware and software that’s ridiculously expensive, over-regulated, and difficult to maintain or modify.
E-bikes and scooters have great ecosystems for production and maintenance. Yet power wheelchairs, though they use many of the same components as e-bikes or scooters, are locked into a world where they’re unhackable, unfixable, and unrepairable by their owners.
Disabled people do hack their wheelchairs and other assistive technology, including software, hardware for mobility, screen readers, voice banking, AAC, and gadgets to help with limited dex. Meanwhile, engineering students, disability studies folks, and other academics, regularly invent useful stuff. The problem is, most of this stuff does not make it out into the world for practical use.
The time is right for disability justice to combine with F/LOSS! We can build an open ecosystem for assistive tech!
DTF, or Disability Technology Foundation, is Liz’s new venture. DTF will serve as a pathway for assistive technology inventors, hackers, wheelchair modders, etc. to open license their work. That way, they can share it with the world, so that other disabled people can have free access to DIY and low cost plans to build equipment — and make it work for them.