Hackcessible Challenges 2018

The inaugural Hackcessible was held between October and December 2018 as the first user-led accessibility make-a-thon in the UK, seeking to address challenges presented by eight individuals with a variety of disabilities. Hackcessible 2018 resulted in six fully working prototypes, out of which three are looking to be commercialized (including the registration of one startup company) and three are continuing to be developed as open source or research projects.


Access to scientific instruments e.g. oscilloscope etc for visual impairment

“My names Jake, I am 19 years old and I’m passionate about communication systems, Electrical systems and futuristic technologies. I follow all latest news on technology advancements and I have an intermediate ammeter radio license. I’m registered blind. This disability holds me back in pursuing and achieving more in the areas I am interested in. I have the ability to operate and access laboratory equipment including Spectrum analyser, multimeter and oscilloscope. These are just a few examples of apparatus I have had difficulties with using without assistance from an able-bodied person. I have previously tried the internal camera on an iPad to enlarge the screens and controls. This solution wasn’t satisfying as it became hard to use the equipment whilst holding the iPad camera in focus. Space and lighting also became a problem.”


Inaccessible buildings and steps

“I am currently studying MSc Science communication at the university of Sheffield, I completed my undergraduate degree from the University of Nottingham in neuroscience. I have Duchenne Muscular dystrophy, a progressive muscle wasting disease, using a powered wheelchair to get around. I am always fascinated by design and engineering and how it can be used to improve peoples lives, particularly for those who have disabilities, helping them to live a ‘normal life’. Sometimes the world can be so inaccessible! One of the main problems or difficulties I have face is accessing certain building, particularly if they have more than one step, this is a problem for many powered wheelchair users, restricting building they can access. My challenge would be to design a multipurpose ramp, similar to the ‘roll-a-ramp’ that could flexible and adaptable for my powered wheelchair dimensions and weight. I have a portable ramp that can manage one step, however this is not useful in all situations. Nearly all ramps are not designed for powered wheelchairs but instead manual chair users, who wheelchair dimensions and weight are far less than the average wheelchair user.”


Wireless switch access

“I am a 24 year old man with cerebral palsy, I am a volunteer at a disability living centre where we give advice on assistive technology to people. I currently use a “Specs Switch” on my headrest to access my phone, drive my wheelchair and other activities. The issue i come against is it has a wire i would like this to be wireless through bluetooth (like the iswitch but smaller) Because the wire breaks, it would just be click and go rather than putting my switch through a bluetooth interface. My specs switch is currently 3.5cm round by 1.5cm deep and i need something relative to this size. I tried the iswitch but this can’t be attached to my headrest comfortable because it is to large and too deep.”


How can we make smart TVs more accessible for blind and visually impaired

“I enjoy watching TV but as a totally blind viewer this presents a number of challenges to me, mainly that most TV’s provide no spoken feedback – E.G. the contents of things like the EPG and the TV’s menus are not read aloud which makes them inaccessible. Several TV’s do include screen readers, although these are typically only present on high end devices where the majority of other featuresthat make them high end and justify the price are lost on me – E.G. smart features and a high quality screen.I would like an inexpensive, accessible & preferably reusable way of watching TV.”


Drinking and refilling glasses

“I am 41 and I have cerebral palsy. I use a wheelchair and need help with lots of things. However, I find technology increasingly provides fantastic solutions to make all our lives easier. This is an issue that faces many disabled and older people- I can drink but I cannot refill my cup! The obvious solution is to get someone to pour my drink for me. but there is not always someone there. you can have more drinks lined up but this is not ideal. I would like to press a button and see my drink refilled. the right solution could be life changing for myself and many others.”


Discrete arm support

“I am a 59 year old man with a muscle wasting condition called Inclusion Body Myositis . I am full time in a wheelchair . My muscles are wating and at the moment I can use mt right arm but not my left. I would like an articulated mechanical support “sleeve”for my arm to enable me to eat better  and to use the arm for other things like reading and drawing. I have one arm which I am unable to use at all, and the remaining arm is quite weak. I need something small that doesnt get in the way and is not attached to my wheelchair. I had a “robotic” arm and this was attached to my wheelchair and was very very cumbersome and not user friendly at all. I would like something smaller like a powered articulated arm sleeve which would help me to move my arm without the necessity of it being attached to a wheelchair which then makes it difficult to move around the house.


Access to sheet music while performing music

“I am trying to learn to play the euphonium but have problems getting the music in a position in which I can see it around the bell of the instrument as I can only see out of one eye.  Traditional music stands do not really work for me. I also need a way of quickly enlarging Music and a way of displaying it that I can use with the euphonium. Ideally I would have a hands free way of page turning, Enlarging the music to A3 is problematical as it falls off the stand and I can only see small areas of the page due to the instrument.  Enlarging onto A4 gives many many page turns which I struggle with. I am imaging a digital display (I have access to kindle, android and iPad tablets) but have no idea how to mount it, how to make software that could process the music, and how to change pages hands free.”


Making art using assistive technology

“Hi, my name is Nina Ellen Wragg but I like to be called Ellen, Ell for short. I am 31 years of age and live on my own in my bungalow with my kitten Maggie, I am cared for by my support staff 24 hours a day due to being diagnosed with cerebral palsy with a spastic quadriplegia and atheoid movements. I cannot communicate verbally but use a communication aid which I operate using head movements to select words. I have scoliosis and I cannot weight bear. I have physio sessions 5 days a week and have my own hydrotherapy pool. One of my favourite activities to do is art, I love drawing and painting but with my current equipment this is very difficult and if I am having a bad day almost impossible. My current way of drawing and painting is a helmet with a paintbrush attached. My staff hold the paper in range and I move my head to move the paintbrush across the page. As I have extremely limited control over my movement it is difficult and time consuming to try and create the picture I want. On days when I am particularly stiff I cannot create anything at all.”