Clinical and Maker Perspectives on Assistive Tech

In April 2016, the Enable Foundation, Carnegie Mellon HCII, and University of Pittsburgh hosted a summit on the future of rapid prototyping, prosthetics, and assistive technology. In this summit, stakeholders from e-NABLE, the medical field, industry, and academia elucidated common areas of interest and future goals for rapid prototyping and prosthetic research. A group of attendees synthesized these findings into an Experience Report, presented at ASSETS 2016.

In this experience report, we describe the experiences of volunteer assistive device designers, clinicians, and human computer interaction and fabrication researchers who met at a summit on Do-It-Yourself Assistive Technology. From the perspectives of these stakeholders, we elucidate significant challenges of introducing rapid prototyping to the design of professional assistive technology, and opportunities for advancing assistive technology. We describe these challenges and opportunities in the context of an emerging gap between clinical and volunteer assistive device design. Whereas clinical process is fully led by the question, “will this do harm”, while volunteers chaotically pursue the lofty goal of providing assistive technology to all. While all stakeholders hold the same core goals, there are many practical limitations to collaboration and development.