Hello Shenzhen!

Machines Room has a new resident, all the way from Shenzhen, China!

On Tuesday Disrupt Disability welcomed Kang Cheng to Machines Room as part of the Hello Shenzhen maker residency programme.

Kang is a 3D printing specialist and Techincal Director at Zealfull Tech, and is joining us at Machines Room until the end of March. During his time here, Kang will be working with Disrupt Disability to design and prototype a core ‘hub’ for a wheelchair.

Disrupt Disability are exploring how makerspaces can be used to connect wheelchair users directly to the design and manufacturing process of making wheelchairs.

During his residency, Kang will be working closely with Disrupt Disability’s Founder Rachael Wallach to develop a wheelchair hub with a set of standardised interfaces which could then be used to enable wheelchair users to customise and create individual wheelchair components.

Machines Room is one of seven UK makerspaces selected to host the Hello Shenzhen programme, sponsored by the British Council.

 

 

RSA Student Design Award

RSA Student Design Award

Hosted by the Royal Society of Arts and sponsored by the Global Disability Innovation Hub we are challenging students to design visionary, customisable, user-centered wheelchairs for our library of open source designs.

Entries must be submitted by 8 March 2017 for the chance of winning the £2,500 prize. Students are invited to address one of the following areas:

1. Want Your Wheels:

Changing perceptions of wheelchairs and wheelchair users. How can a wheelchair be an extension of the body, an item of fashion, or wearable technology? How can wheelchairs be desirable, aspirational lifestyle products? Responses are encouraged from any design discipline, including product, industrial, fashion, textile, speculative design, graphic, interaction and communication design. #HackOnWheels wants to see exhilarating visions for how wheelchairs and their users may look, feel, operate and interact in the future.

2. Wear Your Wheels:

Designing a modular wheelchair. How can we develop a modular system of interchangeable customizable wheelchair parts that will give users maximum choice and control over their wheelchair? How can a modular system enable users to tailor their wheelchair to their body, lifestyle and environment?

Find out more and enter here!

http://sda.thersa.org/en/challenge/rsa-student-design-awards-2017/phase/rsa-student-design-awards-2017/track/hackonwheels-en

We've been celebrated as one of the world’s 100 most inspiring examples of tech for good!

We've been celebrated as one of the world’s 100 most inspiring examples of tech for good!

Nominet Trust, the UK’s leading tech for good funder, has named Disrupt Disability in the 2016 NT100 - a global celebration of this year’s 100 most inspiring social innovations using digital technology to drive social change around the world. 

NT100 plays a valuable role each year in inspiring those with the influence and resources to accelerate the adoption of tech for social good. It brings together entrepreneurs, innovators, NGOs, charities, technologists and others to share knowledge, experience and skills to introduce social change on a global scale. 

Following a global call for nominations earlier this year, Disrupt Disability was selected by a judging panel of tech and charity experts in recognition of its work. Disrupt Disability are applying digital fabrication and distributed manufacturing (for example, manufacturing in makerspaces) to wheelchairs, giving wheelchair users choice and control over the form and function of their wheels. 

This year the NT100 gives special recognition to Everyday Tech Heroes - the inspirational people who have first-hand experience of the challenges they are tackling with Tech. We are proud to announce that Disrupt Disability Founder and Director Rachael Wallach has received this year’s Everyday Tech Hero award in recognition of her work.

Rachael was inspired to found Disrupt Disability following her experience backpacking across South East Asia; 

When I was travelling I realised I had hardly seen any other wheelchair users, and no one else was wheeling themselves. An estimated 65m people in the world need a wheelchair. So I started to connect with NGOs on my route to find out why.

They told me that a wheelchair is like a pair of shoes; to give independence it needs to be customised to the body, lifestyle and environment of its user. My wheelchair has over 30 different elements that have been tailored to me.

With traditional design, manufacturing and distribution, customisation comes at a prohibitive price. My wheelchair has been fully customised to my needs but costs $3,000. In a country like Laos, that’s 6 times the average annual salary, so it’s just not affordable. According to the World Health Organisation, there are 52m people worldwide who need a wheelchair but simply cannot afford one.

Inspired by organisations like e-NABLE who have used open source design, digital fabrication and distributed manufacture to reduce the cost of prosthetic hands from $10,000 to $50, I started to run hackathons to explore whether these same techniques could be applied to wheelchairs.

It quickly became clear that even wheelchair users can afford a customised wheelchair, they don’t have the level of choice and control they want over their chair.

Unlike a bike, wheelchair parts are not interchangeable (you can’t buy your frame and footplate from different manufacturers and you can’t swap in a more stable caster fork when you go out on uneven terrain). Unlike glasses, the only thing you can really change about your chair is the colour. Existing manufacturers don’t have much of an incentive to change things.

Our hackathons taught us that the wheelchair market isn’t working for anyone. We co-designed the Disrupt Disability approach with wheelchair users, designers and makers to transform the way that customised wheelchairs are designed, distributed and made.

Disrupt Disability has two aims. First, to reduce the cost of customised wheelchairs so all 65 million people who need a wheelchair can afford one. Secondly, to give wheelchair users as much choice and control over their wheelchair as they would have over a pair of glasses, so people don't use a wheelchair, they wear their wheels. 

The 2016 NT100 was selected from 700 projects discovered this year through a combination of research and public nomination. Shortlisted projects were reviewed by Nominet Trust and a panel of partner organisations including: Big Lottery Fund, Cancer Research UK, Comic Relief, Nominet, Oxfam, Telefonica 02 and Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship. 

The 2016 NT100 projects are hosted on the Social Tech Guide (http://socialtech.org.uk/nominet-trust-100/2016), the world’s largest interactive database of tech for good, which now showcases almost 1,700 ventures. 

About Nominet Trust

Nominet Trust is the UK’s leading social tech funder.  It provides full grant funding, mentoring and business support to organisations using the internet and digital technology to address significant social challenges including health and well-being, economic empowerment and sustainability.  Since 2009,  Nominet Trust has invested more than£25m in projects harnessing technology to deliver real social change. Through partnerships and campaigns such as the inspirational NT100, Nominet Trust mobilises new approaches that will influence and accelerate the use of tech for social good. 

For more information about the Trust, please visit: www.nominettrust.org.uk

Fix our city, fix our wheels!

Fix our city, fix our wheels!

As part of our Machines Room residency, Disrupt Disability were invited to exhibit as part of the London Design Festival Fix Our City exhibition. The exhibition marked the launch of our RSA Student Design Awards brief and manifesto!

The exhibition explores new approaches towards the roles of citizens and makerspaces, a hyperlocal and circular approach to fixing things, materials, processes, systems and attitudes.

We couldn't be more proud to be part of Fix Our City, which brings together a collection of incredible projects, makers and designers - all with a focus on 'design for good'. Projects demonstrate sustainable design principles, circular economy, open source, and open design as methods by which cities can learn to support and renew themselves. Each of the projects it surveys puts into practice the concept of ‘fixing’ as a way to collaborate and create a sense of agency within our city. 

The exhibition closes tomorrow, the 23rd September, so there's still time to make it along if you haven't already!

We're disrupting disability with a new name and a new HQ!

Outside the Machines Room in Bethnal Green, London

Outside the Machines Room in Bethnal Green, London

Here’s a sneak peek at our new HQ, the Machines Room a maker space at Lime Wharf, in Bethnal Green, London. Maker spaces are places with 3D printers, software, electronics, hardware supplies and tools where anyone can come to learn, share skills and create.

Our residency is part of a British Council project that connects designers and makers around the world through a program of travel exchanges, exhibitions and events via its network of Maker Libraries. Not sure what a Maker Library is? It’s a maker space with a library and gallery. Currently there are maker libraries in the UK, South Africa, Germany, Mexico and Turkey - and the network is growing. 

Our home isn't all we've changed, we have a new name to go with our new home: Disrupt Disability. Well, its not entirely new if you've been paying attention you'll see we've swapped our slogan for our name and dropped the hashtag! 

Drop by and say hi! Our next event will be a makeathon at the Machines Room on Saturday 16 July 2016. 

Our Debut TV Appearance

Our Debut TV Appearance

We're on TV!

As part of an exploration into how to ‘hack’ wheelchairs, Sky News reporter Chris Cretan interviewed our founder Rachael Wallach and wheelchair hacker Rosemary Frazer. Rosemary, Campaigns Manager at Scope, designed an extra part for her wheelchair with help from fellow maker and ‘disability disrupter’ Ross Atkin, another Machines Room resident.

After mocking up a cardboard prototype, Rosemary and Ross 3D-printed the part, which attaches to the wheelchair’s brake lever to spread the pressure across the heel of Rosemary’s hand. Why? Using the narrow brake handle aggravated Rosemary’s carpal tunnel syndrome. This simple solution cost only 30 pence to produce.

The piece was broadcast on Sky News’s tech-focused weekly show Swipe this morning and will be repeated across this weekend, 11-12 June 2016. Take a look to see a 3D printer in action at our new home, the Machines Room, and learn more about our mission.