Adaptive Design Ass'n: MAKE Magazine meets the AMA

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8 Responses to “Adaptive Design Ass'n: MAKE Magazine meets the AMA”

  1. dewexdewex says:

    Often, from the disabled child’s perspective, the “special” chair is reviled; it’s another reminder of cripplehood.

    I speak from personal experience.

  2. cshirky says:

    Dewexdewex @4, that comes with the territory of adaptive design, obviously, but since there’s no way around it — tools always remind us of their uses — ADA’s answer is to make the tools seem special on more than just the ‘Special Ed’ axis.

  3. mimsong says:

    This is obviously great stuff, but as someone who works in the field of accessible technology, I’m of 2 minds about it. The need is huge, with millions of kids with disabilities forced to do without essential furniture and low-tech accommodations. That’s not tolerable, and anything that alleviates the situation is valuable.

    However, there *is* a small business sector in this field. You can say that their products cost too much, but you can also say that the cost of customizing and marketing in such a niche are enormous. All too often, once the volunteers have gone home there’s no one left to provide the follow-up support, or build the next chair the kid needs to grow into. It’s an unsolvable riddle, really, that’s based as much in the underfunding of all kinds of “special” services as it is in the nature of the tricky interface between for-profit and non-profit.

    What can we do to provide sustainable support for these efforts?

  4. Chicchan says:

    Funny how in the end artisans superiority is still needed/appreciated. Albeit on “disabled folks”

    Reminds me of Douglas Bader´s story.

  5. bfarn says:

    Mimsong @6, you hit the nail right on the head there. Follow up, education/training, ongoing support – that’s all pretty much in the realm of fantasy for way too many people right now.

    I think these ADA folks are really on to something here, in terms of rapid prototyping and extremely low costs. Their example for Hannah – over two dozen solutions – is great, but it’s still not ideal in one respect: their services aren’t free.

    One family’s cheap is another family’s expensive. At (from their catalog) $350 to $700 per solution, this stuff is an order of magnitude cheaper than anything the medical system can offer, but still prohibitively expensive for many people. Which brings up a very serious dilemma.

    Running a non-profit off of donations and grants alone is incredibly difficult, and it’s nigh impossible to expand your services to more than a handful of clients without Serious Cash. Taking money from the government and insurance systems would bring in money, but the bureaucracy, accreditation process, oversight, reporting, billing, etc. would negate the flexibility that the ADA is founded on. As soon as they grow big enough to serve more people…. they can’t serve anyone.

    So crap, I’ve just been a huge downer and I don’t have a solution to offer. My folks founded and ran a similar non-profit for years, and never charged a dime for their services – but they were never giving out stuff, and they spent 99.9% of their time fundraising instead of serving more people.

    What the ADA is doing here is wonderful, inspiring, and indispensable – now we just have to figure out how to make it free. Is there any spare doe-eyed Web 2.0 optimism to spare, Boingers?

  6. James David says:

    Not unlike Boston’s Institute for Human Centered Design, who I’ve been in touch with off and on over the past few years.

  7. roboton says:

    That is just the most awesome thing I have seen ever.

    What an excellent use of skills.

  8. Red Leatherman says:

    This is great, I love it in every way.
    I missed my calling, I loved making things out of cardboard and tape, I still remember the Christmas all I wanted was a stack of cardboard and a roll of tape.

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