“I am not an Engineer”

Three engineers working together on a project.

We are delighted to be hosting Ms. Rahaf Alharbi to share her late-breaking paper with CHI 2020 titled: “I Am Not an Engineer”: Understanding How Clinicians Design & Alter Assistive Technology”.

In the emerging maker movement, clinicians have long played an advisory role in the development of customized assistive technology (AT). Recently, there has been a growing interest in including clinicians as builders of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) AT. To identify the needs of clinicians-as-makers, we investigated the challenges that clinicians faced as they volunteered in an AT building project where they were the primary designers and builders of assistive mobility devices for children. Through observation and co-building of modified ride-on toy cars with clinicians, we found that the rapid pace of development and the transient relationship between user and builder did not allow for a complete assessment of the child’s mobility. Furthermore, clinicians struggled to actualize concepts borne out of their clinical intent due to a lack of engineering skill. This study highlights the need for tools that support clinicians-as-makers in the AT maker process and a new conceptualization of the role of DIY-AT maker programs within the AT provider ecosystem.

Rahaf Alharbi received her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering (Ethnic Studies minor) from the University of California, San Diego. Her research interests lay at the intersection of Accessibility, Human-Computer Interaction, and Disability Justice. In fall 2020, Rahaf will be joining the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor for a Ph.D. in Information (Congratulations!)

To attend this session and receive a link to the webinar, please register your interest via the form linked.

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