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

Ethan Chew spacefelix at gmail.com
Mon Dec 16 09:11:05 CET 2013

Thank-you for this, Alan.

> Date: Mon, 9 Dec 2013 11:34:23 -0500
> From: Alan Fay <emptyset at freesideatlanta.org>
> To: Hackerspaces General Discussion List
>         <discuss at lists.hackerspaces.org>
> Subject: Re: [hackerspaces] Inquiry: Hackerspaces Accomodating Special
>         Needs Hackers & Hacker Experiences - How Do You Guys Fare?
> Message-ID:
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> CAFC4BBwYg1ozfkGLVGKfn77LA_EtQMBYUBYsWWAmUspTwRiCbg at mail.gmail.com>
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> Ethan,
> 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:
> http://blog.freesideatlanta.org/2013/03/super-cheap-and-effective-off-road.html
> 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.

Cool!  Do you have detailed technical documentation on how you built the
zero-turn wheelchair?

I have been learning American Sign Language off and on and I have wondered
about a project to develop a video recognition program that can read the
gestures of sign and translate them into words.  It has been demonstrated
with the XBOX Kinect (
 With this demonstration and open-source software to repurpose the Kinect,
this project seems closer to my reach.

> 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.

Sounds like a good start.

> 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.

A curiosity, for an organization to be registered as a 501c3 and/or for
insurance purposes, is ADA compliance a must?  Did Freeside or other
hackerspace meet this as a requirement?

> Thanks,
> Alan
> Director/Treasurer, Freeside Atlanta

Thanks, Alan!

            - spacefelix/Ethan Chew, Mojave Makers (www.mojavemakers.org)

> 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
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > Discuss mailing list
> > Discuss at lists.hackerspaces.org
> > http://lists.hackerspaces.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss
> >
> >
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