Making a Medical Maker’s Playbook: An Ethnographic Study of Safety-Critical Collective Design by Makers in Response to COVID-19

Megan Hofmann, Udaya Lakshmi, Kelly Mack, Rosa I. Arriaga, Scott E. Hudson, and Jennifer Mankoff. Making a Medical Maker’s Playbook: An Ethnographic Study of Safety-Critical Collective Design by Makers in Response to COVID-19. Proc. ACM Hum. Comput. Interact. 6(CSCW1): 101:1-101:26 (2022).

We present an ethnographic study of a maker community that conducted safety-driven medical making to deliver over 80,000 devices for use at medical facilities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To achieve this, the community had to balance their clinical value of safety with the maker value of broadened participation in design and production. We analyse their struggles and achievement through the artifacts they produced and the labors of key facilitators between diverse community members. Based on this analysis we provide insights into how medical maker communities, which are necessarily risk-averse and safety-oriented, can still support makers’ grassroots efforts to care for their communities. Based on these findings, we recommend that design tools enable adaptation to a wider set of domains, rather than exclusively presenting information relevant to manufacturing. Further, we call for future work on the portability of designs across different types of printers which could enable broader participation in future maker efforts at this scale.

KnitGIST: Generative Texture Design

Hofmann, M., Mankoff, J., & Hudson, S. E. (2020, October). KnitGIST: A Programming Synthesis Toolkit for Generating Functional Machine-Knitting Textures. In Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (pp. 1234-1247).

Automatic knitting machines are robust, digital fabrication devices that enable rapid and reliable production of attractive, functional objects by combining stitches to produce unique physical properties. However, no existing design tools support optimization for desirable physical and aesthetic knitted properties. We present KnitGIST (Generative Instantiation Synthesis Toolkit for knitting), a program synthesis pipeline and library for generating hand- and machine-knitting patterns by intuitively mapping objectives to tactics for texture design. KnitGIST generates a machine-knittable program in a domain-specific programming language.

Living Disability Theory

A picture of a carved wooden cane in greens and blues

It was my honor this year to participate in an auto-ethnographic effort to explore accessibility research from a combination of personal and theoretical perspectives. In the process, and thanks to my amazing co-authors, I learned so much about myself, disability studies, ableism and accessibility.

Best Paper Award Hoffman, M., Kasnitz, D., Mankoff, J. and Bennett, C. l. (2020) Living Disability Theory: Reflections on Access, Research, and Design. In Proceedings of ASSETS 2020, 4:1-4:13

Abstract: Accessibility research and disability studies are intertwined fields focused on, respectively, building a world more inclusive of people with disability and understanding and elevating the lived experiences of disabled people. Accessibility research tends to focus on creating technology related to impairment, while disability studies focuses on understanding disability and advocating against ableist systems. Our paper presents a reflexive analysis of the experiences of three accessibility researchers and one disability studies scholar. We focus on moments when our disability was misunderstood and causes such as expecting clearly defined impairments. We derive three themes: ableism in research, oversimplification of disability, and human relationships around disability. From these themes, we suggest paths toward more strongly integrating disability studies perspectives and disabled people into accessibility research.