Assistive – Final Project by Bruce and Sam

Additional materials:

Case: 73 year old man who has severe neuropathy and can’t feel his hands, feet, fingers or toes, just got into Words with Friends. He cannot simultaneously click and drag the mouse. He has to use one hand to hold down the button and the other hand to roll the track ball, to get the tile to move on the screen, which is very difficult.
Group Member: Bruce Luo and Sam Arellano

1. Brainstorming:
After watching the video from Marianne, we figured out that the main difficulty comes from using the trackball with two hands, and no apparent visual / audio feedback. In this stage, we mainly focused on separating cursor navigation from clicking and dragging, as well as other means of interacting with the game. We had a list of potentially usable body movements that could be possibly mapped to the input, and a few points we were not clear with. But at least we could help improving mouse interactions by making a larger, easier to use button box. Software improvements can also be made. Initially we focused very heavily on high tech and programming intensive solutions, but as we got further into the design process and brainstormed further iterations, we focused more on the low tech.

2. Prototyping for the hardware solution:
By using Makey Makey, we can make input device prototypes very rapidly. The first prototype we made was built with a cardboard box and foam holding the internal parts. The rest of the circuit and contact points are hand-drawn pencil lines. Not durable, but worked well enough for concept verification. Essentially, it’s a box that has two big pedals as the two buttons on a mouse. When they are pressed, a LED indicator lights up. Aside from the makey makey, this prototype was about as low cost as possible.

3. Software ideas:
After some research, we figured out that operating systems today, as well as third party software provide the ability to navigate mouse using only one button. This feature is called switch control. Mac OS has this built in, Windows only offers this through 3rd party clients you need to buy. Since Words with Friends is a web game made of Javascript, it’s also possible to hack the game for accessibility. The first kind of modification is an adaption of the switch control. Rather than scanning through the entire screen area, the scanning behavior is tailored for the game. Assuming the case subject is able to speak clearly, we also imagined a faster way of playing the game: using voice recognition.

4. Feedback and improvements:
After getting some feedback from the guest speaker, rest of the class, as well as Marianne, we started rethinking about our solutions. We made another version of the box that is smaller and more durable, combining it with switch control. Since the trackball isn’t the ideal way of navigating using palm, we decided to introduce IR touch panels, which can be programmed to behave like a trackpad on laptop, but only larger.

Bruce personal reflection:
This is my first time designing something specifically for someone. It’s actually more interesting and challenging than I previously thought. One important lesson I learned is not to over complicate simple stuff. The most reliable and easy to use and maintain solutions are often low-tech, though hi-tech solutions can provide better experience if done right.
Another challenge is not being able to talk to the subject directly. We have to make close observations watching the same video and text descriptions over and over again. Having to make assumptions, we ended up delivering a few different solutions for different assumptions we made. During the process, I had such feeling that my design thinking abilities are put into test and became better in return.

Sam personal reflection:
This project really put forth a unique type of design challenge I hadn’t experienced before. My previous projects have primarily been focused around identifying a specific demographic and then creating with the majority and perceived “normal” or “average” in mind. This is the way it’s done in many industries and as such the negative consequences of this on the minority groups who get hit the hardest never was at the forefront of my mind. Not because I had no experience with living with or interacting with disabled individuals, in fact despite my personal experience, I always perceived industry standard as the right or only way to do many things. As such this project was very eye opening at the massive yet often unnoticed need for inclusive design. I think of rapid prototyping mainly for agile development in the business sphere, but this was a great example of how it can be done in a purely not for profit domain, and how much more effective it might be here with budget constraints being even tighter than they would than in creation of a product. I definitely would like to work on more cases like this and possibly follow up on this specific case in case I can offer more assistance to the man we were designing for.

Assistive Technology – Final Project // Ewa Oberska

  1. Case Study
    The subject of our case study is a 53-years old man, who 10 months ago experienced a stroke, fell into a coma, and since that time he has managed to regain some muscle control in his neck and arms. He is capable of moving his head around and also moving his shoulders independently of each other however, he still cannot speak.
  2. Purpose of our project
    To enable the subject of our case study wishes to be able to communicate with his family and friends.
  3. First difficulties
    At first, we immediately faced a number of difficulties. The first one was the lack of information. We did not know the exact movement capability of the man’s head and arms. We also did not know anything about his financial situation, as well as the capability and willingness to use technology.
    Moreover, another potential problem that could arise as the man has tried to use high-tech solutions for his problem however, they were presented to him too early on and too fast. Therefore, at this point he is very sceptic towards the idea of using complex technology because of his early experiences

Our work on the case study involved both vast research and prototyping.

4. Initial Research
First, we decided to check what commonly accessible solutions are offered on the market. I was quite satisfied with the results of the search. We found both various types of assistive hardware, as well as paid and free softwares.

  • Hardware:
    • HeadMouse Nano by Origin Instruments – Is one of the leading companies that produce this kind of product. The standard price for the mouse and software averages between 1200-1500 USD. Based on reviews, it is supposedly reliable and tracks the head movement in any lighting environment.
    • Kinesic Mouse – very similar to the aforementioned product. The producer mentions very vast and extensive features, for instance, having incorporated all features of for instance, a Play Station or XBox controllers. I have also watched various statements from users, for instance, an engineer, who as a result of an accident, has no power in her body, except from neck above. KinesicMouse supposedly enables her to be professionally active in her field as an engineer with no limitations in her use of computers.
    • A DIY Arduino-based head mouse: through research, I also managed to find an instruction on how to construct one’s own head mouse using Arduino micro. (

Issues with hardware:
One of the first doubts we had about the hardware solutions was the price, especially considering that at that point, we still were not aware of the fact that for the man, who we tried to find a solution for, price does not play a great role.
I believe that the greatest hardship while researching hardware options was the fact that this type of technology is not widely used and the number of its users is exceptionally low. Therefore, naturally, it was challenging to find real reviews from actual users, not companies merely marketing their products.

  • Software:
    • Camera Mouse (with Clicker 5)
    • iTracker

Issues & Notes on the softwares:
Camera Mouse and iTracker are relatively similar softwares, except CameraMouse works on Windows, and iTracker on macOS. Surprisingly, both softwares turned out to be freeware. There is also a number of paid tracking softwares however, we focused on the ones that are free.
Nora and I split both softwares between the two of us – I tested CameraMouse on my Windows laptop, and Nora testes iTracker on her MacBook. Once we compared our findings it turned out that we had the same conclusions after using both softwares: they were extremely helpful and we managed to do everything we set ourselves to do using those softwares however, it did take a lot of time. At times, they would be very hard to use or not precise enough. What I thought was a significant issue was the right click, left click and double clicking options. They were either very time-absorbing or (almost) impossible to use.

5. Solving & Prototyping

Initially, as Nora and I did not have a specific idea of the man’s circumstances, what he would be able to afford, his living conditions, assistance from other people, location, education, and knowledge of modern technology. All of these aspects, as we found, were crucial to plan out a device that would be appropriate for this individual. However, with no information, we decided to make plans for 3 different solutions which would be:

  • 10 USD, low-tech; allowing to communicate basic needs, no need for high level of education, computer skills or even literacy.
  • 100 – 200 USD, high low-tech, requires the ability to use the computer.
  • 1000 USD and above, top-of-industry high tech, allowing the patient to use the computer with all its features, as well as even consoles, requires quite high level of education.

In that way, we thought, we would cover as many possibilities as possible and in the end created 2 different prototypes.

6. Prototype #1: Laser Pointer + picture board – low-tech solution:

As our first prototype we created three picture boards, and used a laser pointer to mount it on a band. That was supposed to be an extremely low-cost solution that would not require literacy, however, would enable the patient to communicate his most basic needs in a simple way.

Nora and I tested it – Nora being the patient, and me assisting her. What turned out was that it was surprisingly accurate and easy in use, when compared to the freeware head-tracking softwares that we had previously used. It was significantly less tiring and frustrating to use than CameraMouse or iTracker.

7. Prototype #2: Clicking device + iTracker – High (low) Tech solution

Our second prototype was significantly more complex than the first one, even despite its simplicity. It made it possible for the subject of our case study to use the computer by navigating the cursor by having his head tracked by the camera (through either CameraMouse or iTracker, depending on the operating system – in our case iTracker).

Through testing both softwares we came up with the same conclusions, apart from the difficulty in navigating around the screen, the most difficult and time-absorbing part was clicking, by hovering over a certain spot for, in our case 3 seconds, which can be customized in settings. We found it exceptionally hard to stay still in various strange positions in order to click, and very often the sensitive camera would detect some minor movements, which set us back to the very beginning of the ‘clicking process’.

What we concluded was that the idea of head-tracking softwares truly does work well, especially considering how accessible it is being free. However, right- and left- clicking using those softwares was not efficient, not to mention attempting to double-click. I thought it would be a great idea to take some work ‘off’ the head and utilize the fact that the patient is capable of lifting his arms independently, through building a clicking device, that would require very simple movements, and would enable the patient to complete various tasks on his computer, including even playing games.

We built the physical structure of our device using cardboard. We made sure to hot-glue layers of cardboard in a way that it would not be likely to bend, having each layer aligned differently. It took us a few hours to build that simple structure, and what we also noticed that, because of the nature of the electrical circuit that we later built, the only person who could wear it was the one for whom it was designed. For instance, my head was the model for the device, and when we asked someone else to try it on, they ended up constantly clicking, merely because their neck was shorter than mine.

The system of our device was exceptionally simple – based on circuit closing, and connected to a laptop USB-port through Makey Makey. We created arm pads, that were easily attachable to either skin or clothing, covered them with conductive copper tape that was further connected to ground. The ‘wing’ parts were also connected to the circuit therefore, as I lifted my shoulders, the pads would touch the ‘wings’ at the same time closing the circuit and clicking on Nora’s laptop’s screen.

From my user experience, I found it to be very convenient. As it was only a prototype, there were multiple improvements we could have incorporated, but the general experience was surprisingly pleasant, and much quicker than any of the tracking softwares’ clicking features that we tested before.

Moreover, the entire device was exceptionally light and could be easily worn on a head without any physical discomfort

8. Conclusion & What’s Next?

I was very satisfied with the results of our work. Initially, we spent a vast amount of time researching already available technology, both open-source and hardware, and testing as much of them as we could access. I believe both of us slightly challenged ourselves to prototype and I am very happy with the results.

However, I don’t believe I want this to be the end of my work on this case study. Most likely, Nora and I will have the opportunity meet the man, whose case we worked on, personally. I think it will be a great experience, but I am also thinking in terms of how could we help him. We will know more once we have met him. Depending how this goes from here, I am still considering what to make my Capstone about, and this is certainly one of the possibilities.

Final reflection – Máté & Linda & Nathalia

This post includes the general overview of our work, as well as our individual reflections.

For our project, we chose to go with this case study:

“52 year old woman with painful joints and weakness in her arms and hands wants to be able to hold her phone when walking in the street. She is not strong enough to hold the phone with one hand and touch the screen with the other. Needs something to hold the phone but it also needs to be able to move out of the way when not in use.”

We started ideating about solutions, and we quickly decided that we wanted to go with some low-tech ideas. These projects due to their nature could nevertheless be improved by the application of the neccessary automatization. That would require significant machinery though and a minimal space for the additional parts in order to not make the projects to big or heavy.

These were our two ideas.

  1. Selfie stick

With this selfie stick attached to a holder on the subjects belt/waist area, she would be able to easily pull out her phone attached to the stick. It would be directly in front of her while walking, and could be put away easily as well. The pros of this prototype is that it puts no constant strain whatsoever on the subject’s hands, and she would be able to have the phone directly in front of her. The con is that it might take up too much space in front of her, and putting it away/pulling it out does require some strain. Here our our sketches, the stock photo of the stick, and the final prototype:


2. Armband

A variation of the phone holding armbands used by runners, this armband would allow the subject to flip down the phone and use it while it is attached to her upper hand. The flipping down would either be supported by a hinge, or as we did it, by having a string attached to the top of the holder. It is easy to put away, and although it requires some strain for her to access the phone with her hand, it is not as complicated to put away as the selfie stick, and requires less space. The band should be stretchy enough for it to be used above a coat as well as on a bare arm, and she should frequently switch the arms she is putting it on, because having it on one side of her body constantly could cause neck strain. Here’s the source of the idea, our sketches, and our prototype.

The future

The two most important things that could improve these projects are finding the right materials to build them out of and to get some feedback from the subject, whether she’d want to try them or how she’d costumize them. Again, future implementation of H I G H T E C H N O L O G Y, that could make the selfie stick pull out and go back, the phone on the armband flip down and close on the press of a button is also something that would be interesting looking into.

Also, here’s the link to our final presentation:

Personal reflections

“Working on this project was definitely a challenge for me, since assistive technologies were a part of this field I was not very acquinted with before. I learned a lot, especially through realizing how some solutions that I thought were obvious in the beginning turned out to be problematic for various reasons. This area emphasises the very interaction with the user and in a sense it is all about advanced level UX design, where making assumptions is harder, finding solutions is trickier, and there is definitely no one perfect way to solve a problem. During this project, besides being creative, I needed to practice a great deal of emphaty, and that made the process all the more rewarding.” – Máté

“What I am taking away from Assistive Technologies is endless enthusiasm; I enjoyed the classes, the fieldtrip and case study a lot. This class introduced me to a whole new aspect of helping people with the knowledge I am still gathering from different places, and also made me to approach problems differently. For the case study, we had to think and “feel” as the person we designed the product for, which made me realize not necessarily the high-tech, complicated solution is the winner, often the simplest idea can go much further. I can use this approach not just for designing, but also in other aspects of life. And on a final note: this was the very first prototyping I have ever done, I was surprised to realize how useful and enduring certain materials are, especially cardboard.” – Linda

“What I am taking away from Assistive Technologies is endless enthusiasm; I enjoyed the classes, the fieldtrip and case study a lot. This class introduced me to a whole new aspect of helping people with the knowledge I am still gathering from different places, and also made me to approach problems differently. For the case study, we had to think and “feel” as the person we designed the product for, which made me realize not necessarily the high-tech, complicated solution is the winner, often the simplest idea can go much further. I can use this approach not just for designing, but also in other aspects of life. And on a final note: this was the very first prototyping I have ever done, I was surprised to realize how useful and enduring certain materials are, especially cardboard.” – Nathalia

Case Study Reflection

Case: a 53-year-old man who could only lift his head and shoulder but not talk wants to communicate with family and friends

Group Members: Ewa and Nora

Final Presentation:

I. Introduction

We chose this case because we thought it was interesting and challenging to work with such limited functions. Our brainstorm and research processes were rather smooth since there are already some relevant devices and softwares available on market. At first we didn’t have a lot of background information about the subject, but it was fortunate that we met his therapist and obtained more information afterwards. Our biggest challenge would be the prototyping part. Although the process went smoothly eventually but at first the idea of prototyping itself intimidated us a little bit. Now we had some videos about using the two prototypes we made for both of our low-tech and high-tech solutions. We expect to meet the subject in person sometime since he is currently in Shanghai, and hopefully get some feedback from him to improvement our design.


II. Process:

Stage 1: Brainstorming 

At first the case appeared to be hard to me because what our subject can do is really limited. Also since we might not be able to prototype really high-tech solutions, it seemed there were not a lot of options. So what we came up with first is the low-tech laser pointing device, which was inspired by the on market picture board.  But then it was too simple and the functions were really limited. So on the day that we had our 6th class, we brainstormed more ideas. Ewa found something called head mouse online and we thought its functions match perfectly with what we need. As a mouse alternative, head mouse can potentially allow the subject to do anything on a laptop, especially with his functioning shoulders as two clicking buttons. So we decided to offer two solutions to the case study, a low-tech one and a high-tech one, just in case the subject has a preference based on his personal background. We got a lot of help from Luis and Jiwon in that workshop class and we were really grateful. Luis was really good at pushing us to think about questions like how the subject’s financial and educational condition will affect our solutions. With his instructions we thought further and took a lot of factors into consideration. Jiwon on the other hand gave good feedback and suggestions on how we could design the high-tech head mouse. Instead of using some motion sensors on the shoulders, she suggested some rods hanging down which could be touched by the shoulder. And that is actually what we did in our prototype.

After that class we thought it would be important that we obtain more information about the subject himself since it will determine our final design of the solutions. So we emailed Marianne and got told that the man is well educated and in a rather good financial situation. We were happy to learn that the patient would be able to use a laptop so that the head mouse solution could be further developed. But we also decided to keep the low tech solution just in case the subject prefer it to the other.

> Work in progress: brainstorm ideas on white board; list of questions needed to be asked;

Stage 2: Researching

After the brainstorm stage we moved onto the research stage. We wanted to figure out is available on the market first and how they can incorporate with our idea. So we found some free software online that can use the computer camera to capture the movement of the head to replace the mouse curser. We mainly tested out “Camera Mouse” (windows) and “iTracker” (Mac) and found that the biggest problem of these softwares is that the dwelling function is not that easy to use. That is, when you try to click on something, the software asks you to fix you movement and after a few second it will click automatically for you. The difficulty here is that first it’s really difficult for one to stay still for that long, and when it comes to some really small buttons it’s really difficult to click on. Other than that we thought the tracking was actually pretty good. So we tried to find something that could replace the clicking but didn’t find anything super satisfactory. So we decided to to prototype something that can make the clicking easier.

I also tried some softwares to complement/solve the problem of dwelling of iTracker. For example I tried DwellClick for Mac, which works in a similar way as iTracker. The user experience of these kinds of clicking supplements mostly don’t have satisfactory effect either, so we think that we still need to make our own.

In terms of the low tech solution we thought it would be easy to prototype on our own and the biggest issues will be how tiring it would be, is the laser easy to track and easy to be seen, etc. What we planned to do is to make a head set and find a way to fix a laser pen on it. The ideal effect would be that when the subject uses it the headset would be fixed on his head and the laser will track with the head movement.

> Work in progress: first draft of presentation;  testing on different softwares;


Stage 3: Prototyping

1. Low-tech :  The low-tech solution is easy to prototype. We used hard paper to make a ring on the head and placed the mini laser pen on the ring. We tested it with three different boards (with loose pictures, medium arrangement pictures, and tight arrangement pictures) and it all worked well. The only thing is that because the laser pen only gives out laser when the button is pressed we had to use tape to press the button as we tested it. This, ideally, will be solved to replace the laser pen with one that with a more functional laser pen which when pressed it will keep giving out laser and when pressed again the laser is off.

Please see testing video here:

2. High-tech: The idea of prototyping something high-tech first intimidated us, but encouraged by Marianne and with the assistance from Luis, we successfully made it possible with Makey-Makey. What we wanted eventually is to make the two shoulders the left and right click of the mouse, and by lifting them the mouse can work properly with the head tracking software. We made two wings attached to a cupboard head crown and put conductive tape on each of them. And then we made to should pad with conductive tape on them as well. When the pad and the wind touched the “mouse” is supposed to click. Then we found that the should pad was not necessary as it fell so easily and sometimes made it hard to feel that the shoulder touched the wing. So eventually we just put layers of conductive tape on the shoulder. As we tested the prototype with the software “iTrack” (the subject has a mac computer), the device would allow the subject to type, watch videos online and more. The user experience wasn’t too bad either, it was not tiring to use it for 10-15 minutes and it was very easy to learn how to use it.

With the simple Makey Makey, more wires could be connected to space, return, arrows on the keyboard. These functions could be incorporate into the prototype with more complicated shoulder movement/signals.

Please see video about watching a youtube video with the prototype here:


III. Challenges

Our project went mostly smooth actually, but some of the challenges we had in the process would be the part of making the prototype. Ewa and I don’t feel super comfortable with playing with arduino and stuff so we were sort of reluctant to prototype the high-tech solution (while it actually turned out pretty low-tech in the end). But we know it is very important to test and experience out design before we suggest it to the subject, we still did it in the end. Surprisingly it wasn’t difficult at all to use Makey Makey and construct the prototype, and I think we both enjoyed the process very much. Our prototype looked like a toilet with two feet, which we laughed at each other for a long time. I am really glad that we managed to make it happen. And I think what I learned from it is that sometimes it’s really important to get out your comfort zone and have a try. If we only stay at the theoretical level we will never know if our proposal will be feasible and good for the subject

IV. Future Improvements

Now the prototypes are really simple. In the future after talking to the subject we wanna see which he would like to try first and make some improvements. For the laser pointing device we would like to explore if the laser could be put in to the glasses or a hat. And for the head mouse, of course we want to make the device more comfortable to wear, that might include replacing cupboard with some other materials like plastic and foam. Besides we would love to make the device more smooth to use. Also we might consider combine the two solutions if the subject is willing to use both of them. And aesthetically, we definitely want to make the devices more beautiful to wear. Hopefully we can get some feedback from the subject himself as well.


Cerecares Trip Response – Sam Arellano

Cerecares Trip

This trip was really enjoyable. My aunt is disabled and has been through different day programs and care facilities so I’ve had experience going to them and seeing them before. Thankfully, the majority of the ones I’ve seen have been happy places where she was given good opportunities to work on tasks, learn skills, and interact with others, but I’ve also come in contact with some of the facilities that create the stigmas against care homes. The kind of places where the tenants aren’t adequately taken care of, where the facility is understaffed, tenants are ignored, the location is filthy and so are the tenants. By no means is this is the fault of the tenants staying there, and it isn’t the fault of the caretakers either most of the time, they are often overworked and underpaid. But regardless of where the blame lies, it was a great surprise that Cerecares was nothing like one of those institutions.

Walking through the halls, it was easy to see that the staff and organizers loved the students. Their work was on the walls to show off, the way that staff and volunteers looked at the kids with genuine pride when the student was able to complete a task. The kids weren’t being looked at as a burden or a task to take care of, but as legitimate students that were learning new things and had bright futures ahead of them along with great personalities.

The story of the whole facility was also very heartwarming. The first video they showed about the founder’s own life journey and her eventual opening of Cerecares was pretty inspiring. That being said, the other promotional materials felt a little, patronizing? They felt like “suffer porn” where people can look at someone else’s situation and be like “well I might have it bad but at least I’m not them”, or to put in a overly inspirational light that just comes off as ingenuine. I’m not sure the exact way to phrase it, but they felt uncomfortable. The story of the boy being adopted was framed as a story of him overcoming hardship with a closed happy ending, but even the “happy ending” felt at best bittersweet, at worst very depressing and not even in his best interests. And the music montage video was Sarah McLachlan singing over dying puppies levels of manipulative. We did discuss on the bus how this is rooted in cultural differences between China and the United States, but even so, it still feels over the top and against the essence of the facility’s mission statement.

Awkward promotional materials aside, It was a great trip and its easy to see the facility is making great impacts in the students lives. I hope that it can get the funding it deserves to continue making a difference and helping these individuals learn the skills they need for more independence.

Assistive Tech Week 3 Response – Sam Arellano

How to switch adapt a toy

This video surprised me at just how simple the entire process was. I primarily work with software, and honestly, messing around with hardware often intimidates me. I know it shouldn’t, but theres just something so malleable and low stakes about coding. Arduino and breadboards are fine, but once it gets to soldering or messing with existing wiring, I don’t think of that as my domain. This video showed just how simple, and moreover, cheap it is to do. When I see the toys that are usually sold for disabled people and the equipment its usually in the hundreds of dollars, when this toy could be put together with 10 dollars and 15 minutes of time. Even if its not a business idea, it seems like a great skill to have to be able to help people out.

Feelings meets Testing

This article was extremely interesting. I often take the current state of design for granted, assuming industry standards have just always been that way. Growing up in California everyone had their “lean startup mentality” and you were always running into people putting together prototypes and MVP’s, so its easy to think that this is the way its always been as opposed to a new development. This article went more into how prototyping has developed, specifically when it comes to creating an experience of usage for your testers. The other point of interest is just how recently a lot of these developments have occurred. The focus on usage and user interface design really only seems to have took off in the past two to three decades. I feel this is a great development not just for disabled individuals, but for everyone. Calling back to the curb cut effect, this new way of designing and prototyping just naturally leads to a better user experience. What good is form and features if the actual user experience just sucks? This then leads me to thinking how much more will change in just the time of my own career. Who knows what the next big development to come is.


Assistive – Field Trip Response by Bruce

Have only seen this kind of facilities on the television, it is quite shocking for me to be there personally, And the shock comes from the difference of imagination and reality. I have no idea why, but this kind of facilities feel like a cold place to me. Cerecares is a heartwarming place, and it’s not very different from the kindergartens and elementary schools in my memory. While some of them relies on tools to stand and walk, some of them look no different from children in common schools. However, the extremely high staff to student ratio reminds me of the particularity of the school. They tailor rehabilitation and learning plans for each student, depending on their situation. The tools they use are also hand-crafted, nothing high-tech but fits their needs. So, from an outsider’s point of view, they are generally doing well.

But there are a few things caught my attention. One is our tour guide’s choice of words. As we talked on the bus, this could be because of cultural / social status factors. Another thing is the sustainability. From what we have known about them, they are shrinking in scale. Running almost fully on donations and requiring children to have their parents agreeing them to be able to stay in the school, I feel indistinctly worried about their future.

China is growing in all aspects, and I do pray for a brighter future to these kids. There are lots of stuff we could do to make China more universally designed, and a lot more to raise the social attention of this group.

Responses by MÁTé

1 How to Switch Adapt a Toy?

The thing that caught me in the video was one that I’ve seen in the IMA lab many times, which is just how simple it is to hack something so that it becomes more interesting, or in this case accessible. It almost makes me question that if creating accessible toys is this easy, why don’t we see them being manufactured, but then I remember: it is easier to make a million things cheaply than a few thousand.

2 Field Trip

The visit to Cenecare was extremely interesting and a heartwarming sight to behold. Even though I had the feeling (mainly through the videos shown) that the managers of the center might think about these kids as “inspiring,” but it was nice to see that the main end there is their happiness and well-being. I honestly iimagined the place to be a lot bigger before we went there, but I feel like this size is probably the best for the children.

Trip to Cerecares // Ewa Oberska

Having been looking forward to the trip to Cerecares from our first class when it was announced, actually being able to see that place was a great experience. It was my first time to visit a facility of that kind. I did my best in order to keep a clear mind and go there without any presumptions. What helped was also the fact that I had never seen a similar facility therefore, I did not have even a point of comparison.

Probably the most significant thing that I experienced was seeing the children play and live, just as everybody else, except they had different adjustments made to ease their circumstances. The facility did not resemble what most people imagine it to look like – quite the opposite. However, I could sense the care that all children were surrounded with and it showed, for instance, through the custom made chairs, beds, etc., to fit individual needs.

One thing that I believe is also worth mentioning is the very strong mix of feelings that I experienced while at Cerecares. Seeing the children with cerebral palsy live, learn and play was a very satisfying sight. We have seen a few films made based on the residents’ stories which were quite moving. I was not sure if I should be happy, sad, compassionate, amazed. I definitely did not want to behave in an inappropriate way therefore, I tried to remain as neutral as possible. At one point, I also had the impression that we resembled a tourist group just staring at those children living happy normal lives as if they were a kind of a phenomenon. I knew that was not the case, but I was very conscious about behaving in a proper way and avoiding giving them that impression.

An important thing that the trip gave me was also the research that I felt compelled to do on cerebral palsy, as I could not imagine going into the facility without having a good idea of what it really means. I believe that the trip to Cerecares was one of the truly precious experiences that I have gained in my academic career in Shanghai.

Class 5: Case Study In Progress – In Class Exercise

This class we bumped ideas about our case study within groups. Me and Ewa picked the case of the 53-year-old man who wants to communicate with his family and friends with only head and shoulder movements. With such limited functions our case study subject possesses, we really have very limited options. But the good thing is we can start from narrow and specific, which gives us the chance to dig deeper what we can do about a particular function.

We started with the idea of allowing the man to express basic needs by pointing at some specific pictures. With the picture board that is available on market, we though about making an equipment giving out laser that the man could wear on his head so he can possibly control the laser and point at the picture he wants. But this idea doesn’t seem very exciting. So we thought about other possibilities. Knowing that the man can also lift his arm, separately, we thought it would be cool to utilize all these functions. So we came up with the idea of head mouse. Head mouse is also something actually exist. But by customizing how it works to accommodate our subject, it can better apply this the case we are dealing with, and can potentially helps the subject to achieve as much as he can.

The head mouse is also an equipment that will allow the subject to express and and even function as a capable human being, just in a different way. So the subject will wear a device on his head with control the “curser”, and his left and right shoulder represent the left and right button on the mouse respectively. In other words, when he lifts his left shoulder, the left button of the mouse is pressed. So ideally with his head controlling direction and his shoulders pressing buttons, he could actually do whatever a person a do on a computer — typing, watching videos, playing games, etc. Louise helped a lot by pushing us further to think about the potential problems that might rise. So we asked questions about how we can solve the speed (tracking) problem, whether the man has computer skills, aesthetic concerns and more (please see attached pictures for more information, we will also elaborate more in our presentation next class). When those potential questions came up, we realized the importance to know more about the actual condition and thoughts about the subject. Until we know more about him, it can not be completely “customized” a device for him.

We also thought about the feasibility to combine the low tech laser pointing device and the head mouse together. Perhaps there could be device such as laser glasses or laser hat which can both gives out laser and function as a head mouse. With such a device, the subject can choose which function to use in different situations. In the critique part, Jiwon also gave the advice on how the head mouse could possibly work. Instead of our initial idea of using motion/vibrate sensors to sense the movements of shoulders, Jiwon suggested a device with two long strings for example, which the subject can wear on his head. So when he lifts his shoulder the two side would be touched. We thought this is also a good idea.

We are happy about our progress we made in class this Thursday. We also listed down dozens of questions we would like to answer for ourselves before we actually decide the final device we want to make. So now we are going to do some more research on the ideas and work on details.


(The first picture is our board of brainstorming in class, and the second is some questions we would like to know about the subject.)