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Monday, July 24, 2017

Make Makerspaces Accessible

Advances in 3-D printing have lowered the cost while boosting ease of use, allowing makerspaces to crop up throughout the K-12 landscape, at libraries, and on more and more college and university campuses.

In these collaborative spaces, students, faculty, and community members can get hands-on experience in design, problem-solving, and turning concepts into physical products. All of that dovetails with calls for greater entrepreneurialism and more interdisciplinary cooperation, and for schools to teach more skills immediately useful in the modern workplace.

Any institution or group that has such a space or is considering creation of one needs to remember to design for access by individuals representing a wide range of ages, abilities, languages, and learning styles, so that everyone has an equal opportunity to participate and contribute. Faculty and students at the College of Engineering and DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) at the University of Washington, Seattle, have created a set of guidelines governing accessibility and universal design for makerspaces.

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