Making things: UD and participatory ergonomics

picture of a communal workspace with people at workbenches“Makerspaces” encourage people to create and make their own tools and devices to help with their work. The health librarian movement has taken this a step further to encourage practitioners to work more inclusively. This paper by Anika Meyer and Ina Fourie from South Africa reports on a project that brings together people with and without disability to work together to see if the principles of universal design can be applied in the creative process. It is good to see that people with disability are now being included in this movement. Perhaps other disciplines could use this as a model.

Make the makers’ voices count: combining universal design and participatory ergonomics to create accessible makerspaces for individuals with (physical) disabilities is the full title of the paper. The following is the full abstract:

Introduction: The maker or Do-It-Yourself (DIY) movement, which facilitates maker-learning, has been flourishing globally in public, academic and school libraries. Makerspaces have been established to provide healthcare professionals (i.e. physicians, nurses and caregivers) with a creative, innovative and design space for healthcare innovation. For purposes of this paper blendable makerspaces refer to makerspaces that support people with abilities and as far as possible, also with their disabilities and special needs. The focus will be on students in an academic medical library, but will also apply to other user and library types. Although there is a substantial body of Library and Information Science literature on makerspaces, these publications generally do not take into account the makers’ ‘voices’ when designing blend-able spaces. Universal design and participatory (social) ergonomics can promote inclusive design for accessibility. Objective: The purpose of this paper is to establish whether universal design and participatory ergonomics can enable a blend-able makerspace environment where individuals with (as well as without) physical disabilities can participate in the design of makerspaces. Health libraries might play a significant role in the establishment and support of such blend-able makerspaces. Method: The paper is based on a pragmatic analysis of literature associated with universal design, participatory ergonomics and makerspaces to propose practical guidelines for health librarians. Discussion: The following questions are addressed: can a makerspace facilitate special tools and services to foster maker-learning to assist students with physical disabilities?; how can makerspaces be designed to promote accessibility for students with physical disabilities?; and can principles of universal design and participatory ergonomics assist with inclusive design for individuals with physical disabilities? Conclusion: The application of universal design and participatory ergonomic principles can offer health librarians practical guidelines for designing blend-able makerspaces to support individuals such as healthcare students with (and without) physical disabilities to co-learn, co-create and codesign innovative applications.