Volunteer AT Fabricators

Perry-Hill, J., Shi, P., Mankoff, J. & Ashbrook, D. Understanding Volunteer AT Fabricators: Opportunities and Challenges in DIY-AT for Others in e-NABLE. Accepted to CHI 2017

We present the results of a study of e-NABLE, a distributed, collaborative volunteer effort to design and fabricate upper-limb assistive technology devices for limb-different users. Informed by interviews with 14 stakeholders in e-NABLE, including volunteers and clinicians, we discuss differences and synergies among each group with respect to motivations, skills, and perceptions of risks inherent in the project. We found that both groups are motivated to be involved in e-NABLE by the ability to use their skills to help others, and that their skill sets are complementary, but that their different perceptions of risk may result in uneven outcomes or missed expectations for end users. We offer four opportunities for design and technology to enhance the stakeholders’ abilities to work together.

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 1.09.13 PMA variety of 3D-printed upper-limb assistive technology devices designed and produced by volunteers in the e-NABLE community. Photos were taken by the fourth author in the e-NABLE lab on RIT’s campus.

Helping Hands

3D printed prosthetic bow holder with bow and velcro for attaching to the arm.

Prosthetic limbs and assistive technology (AT) require customization and modification over time to effectively meet the needs of end users. Yet, this process is typically costly and, as a result, abandonment rates are very high. Rapid prototyping technologies such as 3D printing have begun to alleviate this issue by making it possible to inexpensively, and iteratively create general AT designs and prosthetics. However for effective use, technology must be applied using design methods that support physical rapid prototyping and can accommodate the unique needs of a specific user. While most research has focused on the tools for creating fitted assistive devices, we focus on the requirements of a design process that engages the user and designer in the rapid iterative prototyping of prosthetic devices.

We present a case study of three participants with upper-limb amputations working with researchers to design prosthetic devices for specific tasks. Kevin wanted to play the cello, Ellen wanted to ride a hand-cycle (a bicycle for people with lower limb mobility impairments), and Bret wanted to use a table knife. Our goal was to identify requirements for a design process that can engage the assistive technology user in rapidly prototyping assistive devices that fill needs not easily met by traditional assistive technology. Our study made use of 3D printing and other playful and practical prototyping materials. We discuss materials that support on-the-spot design and iteration, dimensions along which in-person iteration is most important (such as length and angle) and the value of a supportive social network for users who prototype their own assistive technology. From these findings we argue for the importance of extensions in supporting modularity, community engagement, and relatable prototyping materials in the iterative design of prosthetics

Prosthetic limbs and assistive technology (AT) require customization and modification over time to effectively meet the needs of end users. Yet, this process is typically costly and, as a result, abandonment rates are very high. Rapid prototyping technologies such as 3D printing have begun to alleviate this issue by making it possible to inexpensively, and iteratively create general AT designs and prosthetics. However for effective use, technology must be applied using design methods that support physical rapid prototyping and can accommodate the unique needs of a specific user. While most research has focused on the tools for creating fitted assistive devices, we focus on the requirements of a design process that engages the user and designer in the rapid iterative prototyping of prosthetic devices.

We present a case study of three participants with upper-limb amputations working with researchers to design prosthetic devices for specific tasks. Kevin wanted to play the cello, Ellen wanted to ride a hand-cycle (a bicycle for people with lower limb mobility impairments), and Bret wanted to use a table knife. Our goal was to identify requirements for a design process that can engage the assistive technology user in rapidly prototyping assistive devices that fill needs not easily met by traditional assistive technology. Our study made use of 3D printing and other playful and practical prototyping materials. We discuss materials that support on-the-spot design and iteration, dimensions along which in-person iteration is most important (such as length and angle) and the value of a supportive social network for users who prototype their own assistive technology. From these findings we argue for the importance of extensions in supporting modularity, community engagement, and relatable prototyping materials in the iterative design of prosthetics

Photos

Project Files

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2365703

Project Publications

Helping Hands: Requirements for a Prototyping Methodology for Upper-limb Prosthetics Users

Reference:

Megan Kelly Hofmann, Jeffery Harris, Scott E Hudson, Jennifer Mankoff. 2016.Helping Hands: Requirements for a Prototyping Methodology for Upper-limb Prosthetics Users. InProceedings of the 34th Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’16). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 525-534.

Making Connections: Modular 3D Printing for Designing Assistive Attachments to Prosthetic Devices

Reference:

Megan Kelly Hofmann. 2015. Making Connections: Modular 3D Printing for Designing Assistive Attachments to Prosthetic Devices. In Proceedings of the 17th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers & Accessibility (ASSETS ’15). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 353-354. DOI=http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2700648.2811323

Megan Hofmann

A picture of Megan HofmannMegan Hofmann is an HCII PhD student working with Jennifer Mankoff and Scott Hudson. P Her research focuses on the intersection of rapid prototyping technology and assistive technology. She is currently working on the DIY Assistive Technology project. She is developing tools that support novice designers and assistive technology users when creating customized devices. The goal of this research is to enable people with disabilities to develop technology and modify their environment to be accessible.

Past Work

Previously, she was an undergraduate researcher visiting from Colorado State University. Megan conducted undergraduate research at Colorado State University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her research at Colorado State University focused on creating tools that would take PowerPoint slides and making them screen reader accessible for users with vision impairments. Her work at in Maryland centered around design tools for assistive devices. She developed GripFab, a program that allowed novice 3D modelers to create customized grips for users with gripping impairments. She also contributed to a project that investigated the sharing of assistive technology on Thingiverse, a 3D modeling repository.

Research

Some recent projects (see more)

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