[hackerspaces] Inquiry: Hackerspaces Accomodating Special Needs Hackers & Hacker Experiences - How Do You Guys Fare?

Alan Fay emptyset at freesideatlanta.org
Mon Dec 9 17:34:23 CET 2013


Last year, Freeside repurposed a zero-turn lawnmower into an off-road
wheelchair for a friend with mobility issues, to provide her with autonomy
at a regional Burning Man event in north Georgia:

Normally, Robin had to rely on the volunteer staff with golf carts to get
around, but this worked really well, and it even took some of the 30-degree
inclines like it was no big deal.  Freeside actively supports member and
community projects related to mobility or accessibility issues; it's also
something I personally feel passionate about.

Our space is part of a larger complex that has grandfathered exceptions to
the ADA.  The ADA also has some clear exceptions for areas with workshop
and industrial equipment.

That said, we make every effort to ensure our space is pretty accessible,
though we were unable to install a *compliant *ramp to our front door (no
ramp is required to enter through the back of our space).  The reason for
that is that ADA requires a 12:1 rise, and this type of ramp would impede
the flow of traffic to the other units in the complex.

I know of a couple of spaces in Atlanta that share the same experience; the
best thing is to be aware of the issue and have a plan to address questions
and concerns.  It's also simple things that make a difference - keeping a
clear 3-4 foot walkthrough, making sure members don't leave boxes or
materials blocking a path through, etc.

I'm not an expert in the fine details of the law, but I would recommend
getting an expert review of your facility before *claiming* ADA compliance.
 Most hackerspaces located in newer pre-built-out facilities can, for the
most part, assume that they are compliant, unless they've done some wacky
build-outs.  It's probably a good idea to engage your landlord in that
conversation - especially if your space is regularly open to the public.

It's important if you're located in an older facility to read the ADA and
also read the grandfathered exceptions (if they exist or apply to your
facility).  Be prepared to answer questions; ignorance of the ADA is not
acceptable.  Definitely read through the ADA, if you haven't already.

Director/Treasurer, Freeside Atlanta

On Mon, Dec 9, 2013 at 2:11 AM, Ethan Chew <spacefelix at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hello,
>      In the hackerspace and hacker experience, how have you guys
> accomodated hackers with special needs (e.g. deaf, blind, limited mobility,
> mental, multiple languages, etc.)?
>      Likewise, for hackers who have special needs, how has your experience
> been and how have you adapted to your communities?
>       I am curious to know as I have seen examples of such hackerspaces;
> some in ethnically diverse communities operate with multiple languages;
> staff and board alike are multilingual.  Some hackerspaces in the US I've
> seen have built ramps or arranged doors and passageways accordingly to meet
> ADA (American Disability Act) standards to accommodate wheelchairs.
>        As for special needs hackers, how has the community been for you;
> how are we doing as a whole and what should we continue to do/improve upon?
>        As a last question, are there any examples of projects out there
> that are geared towards meeting special needs; e.g. visual-only/tactile or
> sound-only translators, mobility devices, etc?
>               V/r Ethan/spacefelix
> _______________________________________________
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