Many engineering departments, libraries, and universities are launching new initiatives to create makerspaces to foster innovation. These facilities are physical spaces where students, faculty, and the broader community can gather and share resources and knowledge, work on projects, network, and build.
It is important to ensure that individuals of all backgrounds and abilities can actively contribute to the design process. Makerspaces can be made accessible by considering the following questions:
- Are people with a variety of disabilities included in the planning and set-up of the makerspace?
- Are there detailed and well structured documents in accessible formats describing the rules and best practices for the makerspace?
- Are aisles wide and clear of obstructions (e.g., wires) for people with mobility or visual impairments?
- Have safety procedures been considered for students with hearing, visual, or mobility impairments?
- Can whiteboards and other tools be reached from a seated position?
- Are adjustable-height tables available?
- Can the wheels on furniture be easily locked and unlocked?
- Are magnifying lenses and desk lamps available?
- Is there a quiet space that groups can use for meeting space?
- Is staff trained to assist and provide accommodations for individuals with diverse abilities?
For more information, read Making a Makerspace? Guidelines for Accessibility and Universal Design.