Making for All: including people with disabilities

Staff - Faculty of Informatics

Date: 27 June 2023 / 11:30 - 12:30

USI Campus Est, room D0.03, Sector D

Speaker: Dr Kirsten Ellis  

The Electronic Maker (eMaker) Movement which includes consumer electronics and digitally enhanced fabrication activities attempts to broaden participation in technology design and making to the wider community. There are a number of benefits to undertaking these activities including building technical skills, improving creative thinking and providing opportunities for problem-solving. However, people with disabilities are often excluded from these spaces because the activities are not designed to cater for their abilities or they are not perceived to be relevant or of interest. We have been creating an inclusive eMaking program that caters for people with different abilities and is customised to ensure that activities are relevant to people’s interests and fun. Through custom creation of toolkits and utilising commercial products, we have created an eMaking program that includes circuit making, construction with electronics and a variety of activities for programming robots. An inclusive eMaking program can be created using a range of custom tools including TapeBlocks and TronicBoards and commercial tools including Bee Bots and Spheros. The technology is the starting point for creativity and personally meaningful activities.

Dr Kirsten Ellis leads the Inclusive Technology Research Group at Monash University, working with the community to use technology to solve real-world problems for people living with a disability. Her research focuses on optimising technology engagement opportunities for people living with disabilities. This field requires a unique range of skills to address interpersonal, creative and technical challenges, Dr Ellis’s work requires the ability to strive to address people’s needs with respect and sensitivity while being cognisant of the associated ethical issues. Dr Ellis was awarded the Department of Industry, Science and Resources Eureka Prize for STEM Inclusion in 2022. 

Host: Monica Landoni