High school students design appropriate Assistive Technology solutions for elementary students with physical and cognitive disabilities.
Ten high school students enrolled in a year-long Computer Science course taught by Joe Speier at the Asheville School , a college preparatory school located in West Asheville. These ten students participated in a special project-based Engineering Design class taught by Tom Heck during the month of May 2014.
Working in teams, the Asheville School students designed and and built prototypes of appropriate Assistive Technology solutions for exceptional students enrolled at Hall Fletcher Elementary School (HFE) located in Asheville, NC. The design solutions were intended to help students interact with computer programs (games) in new ways. We worked closely with Kelly Blount and Amy Floyd, the HFE teaching team, throughout the project. This project is endorsed by Dr. Gordon Grant, the principal at HFE.
The Assistive Technology prototypes we created utilized a versatile computer interface design platform called a Makey Makey which was developed by the MIT Media Lab. The Makey Makey is a $50 invention kit for the 21st century. It turns everyday objects into touchpads allowing for quick prototyping of creative Assistive Technology solutions.
In addition to the work of Jason Webb and Lucas Steuber work, I was inspired by Purdue University's "EPICS" High School program (Engineering Projects in Community Service) which enables high school students to connect engineering and computing design with people and local community needs.
During this short course I introduced the students to Stanford University's Design School process which is outlined in this 44 page PDF.
April 1-30 -- I call a list of agencies who can help me connect with a group of students with physical disabilities. These agencies include: FIRST Community Resource Center, Asheville City Schools Foundation, Buncombe County School's Progressive Education Program (PEP), Asheville City Schools Exceptional Children's Program, Care Partners, Buncombe County Schools "Special Services", Mission Children's Hospital, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation, North Carolina Assistive Technology Program, Disability Partners, Carolina Pediatric Therapy, and others. I worked with Charlie Glazener, the media contact for the Asheville City Schools system to secure permission to take photos and video of the elementary students and I worked with Charlie to get the media to the May 15 event (ABC TV and local paper).
May 1, 2014 -- Class # 1 (90 min.) Asheville School students board a bus and travel to HFE to meet with the teachers and students. The goal for this trip was to build rapport and empathy (step #1 of the Stanford D-School process).
May 2 -- Class # 2 (45 min.) Asheville School students are introduced to the Makey Makey.
May 8 -- Class # 3 (90 min.) Asheville School students select the game they intend to play and begin building prototype.
May 12 -- Class # 4 (45 min.) Asheville School students refine designs and test each other's designs. Prepare for Class #5 (return to HFE).
May 15 -- Class #5 (90 min.) Asheville School students travel to HFE by bus and meet with the students to test their prototypes (see video above).
May 19 -- Class #6 (45 min.) Asheville School students debrief the experience.
Jason Webb's "Instructable" on DIY Assistive Technology HERE
Another resource from Jason HERE
Overview of the MaKey MaKey for educators of students with diverse needs HERE
Lucas Steuber's Assistive Technology website HERE
DIY Ability website HERE
MaKey MaKey website HERE
MaKey MaKey Forums HERE
MaKey MaKey for Computer Access workshop (video) HERE -- NOTE: A guest on this show is one of the developers of the Makey Makey!
Switch Accessible Games
Car (driving) games HERE
Hall Fletcher Elementary Games HERE
Learn how to download flash games HERE
RESEARCH: Evaluating Accessibility in Fabrication Tools for Children (click link below)
DIY Pressure Plate Switches HERE
The following is a list of computer games we were prepared to play with the HFE students.
Hopper Beetle Download Hopper_Beetle
Ultimate Baseball Download Ultimate_baseball
Dance Revolution Download Dance_revolution
Dance of the Robots Download Dance_of_the_Robots
Fruit Basket Fruit Basket Game
Piano for Makey Makey Piano
Trebuchet Launch Download Castle-clout
View the photo gallery of this project HERE.
WLOS, the local ABC affiliate, sent a reporter and film team out to the event. The video report will soon be posted here.
The Asheville School posted a great story with photos on their website HERE.
A brief mention of this project appeared in the Asheville Citizen Times. Click on the image below to enlarge.
WLOS TV, the local ABC news affiliate, did a story on this project.
Longer video showing students using the Assistive Technology devices: