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In this Instructable we will be looking at how to use an innovative device called the MaKey MaKey to create customized, low-cost, DIY computer access interfaces for users with disabilities.

What is a computer access interface?

A computer access interface is anything you use to interact with your computer. Normally this is simply a keyboard or a mouse, but for some individuals these devices are impractical or difficult (perhaps even impossible) to use.

Many commercial options exist that let people use their computer in various ways, but the vast majority of them are extremely expensive, hard to use and rely on relatively outdated technology and design principles.

In this Instructable, I will show you how to make your own simple, transparent interfaces out of common objects like aluminum foil and cardboard and an awesome $50 piece of technology!

Who is this Instructable for?

This Instructable is meant for friends, family members and caretakers of individuals with some form of physical disability. While the techniques and technology introduced in this Instructable may be used to help individuals with cognitive disabilities, I have not had any personal experience with such cases.

Please rely on your personal intuition and experience with the user and, if possible, consult with a competent and compassionate expert before actually implementing technology with a user..

I welcome any experiences or advice you may be able to share about using the MaKey MaKey to construct interfaces for individuals with cognitive or physical disabilities. Please feel free to comment on this Instructable, and let me know whether the information I've presented could be helpful for such cases.

Intent and disclaimer

This Instructable is intended to help individuals become more comfortable with using technology to meet their own needs through hands-on learning, experimentation and making. It is no way intended to replace or improve upon commercially available technology.

Furthermore, while this Instructable advocates for the role of DIY technology as a means of empowering users in need, the help and guidance of a trained assistive technology professional is still very valuable. If you are able to, enlist the help of an assistive technology professional who is familiar with your user and supportive of your interest in DIY technology.

Step 1: Overview of the Process

It can be very helpful to take a look at the entire process at a glance before we get started, so you can get an idea of what you’re in for. We will cover all of these steps in more detail, but for now just be aware of what the overall process looks like.

  1. Learn about the MaKey MaKey and how to use it.
  2. Find out what the user wants to do.
  3. Find out what the user can do.
  4. Design or choose an interface that lets the user do what they want using what they can do.
  5. Build a prototype of your interface.
  6. Work with the user to test the interface.
  7. Think about how to improve the interface.
  8. Make the world a better place by sharing your work online!

We will go through each of these steps one by one in this Instructable, so don't worry about figuring it all out at once!
<p>Hi there. I bought already a makey makey and did a few tests. I work as a handyman at a disabled home in Luxemburg Europe. I'm working on a set where the mak. is built in a box and some electronic plug allow me to connect the sensors to it. I'm cutting round wood slices and stick copper foil to them. With some welcro i can adapt the exact place on the borad for the sensors.</p><p>Will send some pics as soon the set is done and working.</p><p>Chears </p>
<p>That's really neat! That sounds like a really useful and powerful idea, I look forward to seeing some pictures of the finished setup!</p>
<p>Fantastic project.</p><p>I'm curious, not being familiar with the technology, do you think this would work as a controller for a music DAW like Ableton for example.</p><p>Thanks again, keep up the good work.</p><p>Jim.</p>
<p>To the computer, the MaKey MaKey looks exactly like a USB keyboard and mouse, so anything you would use a keyboard and mouse for, you can use the MaKey MaKey for! Not only is it possible to use the MaKey MaKey with a DAW like Ableton, it's a very popular use for it! Here are some examples to get you going:</p><p>-- Massive Attack - Teardrop cover with veggies (and lots of other good videos): <a href="http://createdigitalmusic.com/2013/02/massive-veg-attack-makey-makey-fruits-vegetables-music/" rel="nofollow">http://createdigitalmusic.com/2013/02/massive-veg-...</a></p><p>-- Projects on MaKeyMakey.com tagged with Ableton: <a href="http://makeymakey.com/gallery/?tag=ableton" rel="nofollow">http://makeymakey.com/gallery/?tag=ableton</a></p><p>And if you are really hardcore, you can actually hack the MaKey MaKey a bit to output MIDI:</p><p>-- <a href="https://www.instructables.com/id/Makey-Makey-MIDI-controller/" rel="nofollow">https://www.instructables.com/id/Makey-Makey-MIDI-c...</a></p><p>-- <a href="http://www.synthtopia.com/content/2013/11/06/midimidi-makey-makey-let-you-build-your-own-midi-controller/" rel="nofollow">http://www.synthtopia.com/content/2013/11/06/midim...</a></p><p><br>For $50, it's kind of hard *not* to justify getting a MaKey MaKey for musical purposes :)<br></p>
<p>What a great project! I especially appreciate how you emphasize having the user participate in the design, prototyping, and revision process. You can't make good AT &quot;for&quot; somebody, you can only make it _with_ them!</p>
<p>This is completely and entirely awesome. Thanks for making the world a better place.</p>

About This Instructable

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Bio: Creative technologist, UI/UX developer, open-source hardware engineer and lover of learning focused on unconventional applications of advanced and emerging technologies in creative contexts.
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