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SELFMADE – Self-determination and communication through inclusive “Makerspaces”

Project description and -aim:

This study is aiming to produce tools for participation in communication, everyday- and work life in an exemplary and participatory way. Additionally, we develop a “Makerspace” in the service center for AAC in Dortmund, a decentralized workplace of a sheltered workshop in Dortmund.  The service center for AAC works according to the principle of Peer Counselling. The production of individualized aids, which are not financed by health insurances, needs to be professionalized. SELFMADE draws on experience with the development of laboratories and centers of social innovation. 

This project can be seen as a pilot project, with the aim to familiarize more service centers for AAC with Makespaces.

  • The first product is the development of a procedure for the participatory usage of photonic processes by and with persons with disabilities.
  • Secondly an accessibility- checklist specifically for Makerspaces will be developed.
  • Thirdly three product lines with products developed with photonic processes are planned.
  • Central for this project is a cycle in which these product lines are explored and developed.

In order to design the products in a process by persons with disabilities for persons with disabilities the approach of Inclusive Participatory Action Research _IPAR is used. Additionally, this approach is linked with a User Centered Design Approach. Hackathons support this aim, which are held by FabLabs or Makerspaces. In these Hackathons prototypes, so called MVPs are „playfully produced“. MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product. Thus, these are products with a minimum of requirements and features. The products will be made available for persons with disabilities, so they can print them on their own or with assistance. In order to do so, these models will be published free and on a suitable platform. Additionally, the FabLab of the Hochschule Ruhr-West seeks to remove barriers and a Makerspace will be implemented in the premises of the service center for AAC in Dortmund.


Research partner

TU Dortmund University

(Service Center for AAC) Büro für Unterstützte Kommunikation der Arbeiterwohlfahrt Dortmund (associated Partner)

Hochschule Ruhr-West, FABLAB (associated Partner)


Project management

Prof. Ingo Bosse, PhD


Project team

Hanna Linke

Bastian Pelka, PhD

Research Assistants

Leevke Wilkens

Maximilian Czelinski



BMBF, Programm Light Cares – Photonische Technologien für Menschen mit Behinderung



03 / 2017 – 09/2018