Author Topic: Build your own custom assistive technology interfaces for art with MaKey MaKey  (Read 7366 times)


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Build your own custom assistive technology interfaces for art with MaKey MaKey!

Short description: Teaching K-12 art educators and caregivers how to make fun alternative art-making interfaces for students with diverse needs.

Materials: MaKey MaKey, found objects and cheap materials

Price: $50 for the MaKey MaKey, free to cheap for other materials

Group size: Expecting about a dozen K-12 art educators

Difficulty: easy to medium

Time: Intended to take several weeks of only a couple hours per week (such as a traditional K-12 classroom environment), but could be accomplished in a solid day of guided work if done in a workshop format.

Attached documents:
  • Step-by-step guide.pdf – a guided walkthrough of the process of identifying needs and capabilities, then brainstorming a new alternative interface
  • Body mobility chart.pdf – a chart that you can use to make notes of the mobility capabilities of a user, along with difficulty of movement. Used by the Step-by-step guide.
  • Example interfaces (low quality).pdf – a compilation of some very crude ideas I came up with to get the educator thinking about how they can use various types of motion as input. I just whipped this up yesterday, so I intend to make much more clear illustrations over the next few weeks before I actually work with the educators personally.
  • MaKey MaKey contest source - all of the original source files for the other attached PDFs. Includes some .docx files and a Photoshop .psd file.
Detailed description:
Every person with a disability is unique, but most assistive technology does not allow for much flexibility or adaptability. Instead, caregivers and individuals are forced to continually spend more and more money buying relatively small upgrades and more and more specialized equipment, most of which is not covered by insurance.

With the MaKey MaKey, caregivers can create physical interfaces on-demand that are not only adapted perfectly for their patient, but can be constructed from found or cheap material in direct collaboration with the patient. They can even create multiple interfaces for multiple tasks, without having to learn an entirely new system.

I will be remotely working with a group of K-12 art educators this fall to find ways to use the MaKey MaKey as assistive technology for students with diverse needs in the classroom. Resources and technical expertise are limiting factors in this group, so in order to do something as complicated as functional DIY assistive technology, the technology itself must be simple. The MaKey MaKey would be perfect for this application, so I would like to send one kit to each of the educators and work with them to create customized interfaces for their students.

I will be working very closely with these educators to help them develop and implement art-related curricular activities for their students with diverse needs. All of the activities, interfaces and results will be compiled and released for free to help other educators do the same thing in their classroom.

First, the educators will follow the lesson that I am submitting for this contest to actually develop a customized interface for their student. Once they have an interface that is working, I will work with them further to create and actually implement lesson plans that incorporate the interface in some way to make art.

The contest prize would be extremely helpful in providing MaKey MaKeys to each of these educators, and could even provide them with some fun materials to experiment with, such as conductive cloth, conductive paint, longer wires and more!

The prize money would also help me produce a “backpack” PCB for the MaKey MaKey that breaks out the additional keyboard and mouse functions on the back of the MaKey MaKey through more alligator clip contacts! The PCB will be open-source, and I’d like to send one to each of the K-12 educators for testing this fall! A sneak preview of the board is also attached to this post :)
« Last Edit: August 13, 2013, 02:02:35 PM by zenwebb »
Jason Webb
Maker, creative technologist, grad student.

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I am absolutely in love with this group how-to. Super in-depth and wildly useful in a much-needed way.

"All life is an experiment, the more experiments you MaKey MaKey the better." - Ralph Waldo Emerson