Innovation at work: Teams devise solutions for neglected challenges disabled people may face. Photo: SUPPLIED

TOM begins in Ballarat

November 15, 2019 BY

A RECENT Makeathon has kick-started innovation in disability technologies.

The event was to “introduce challenges to makers and need-knowers, then go through a design-thinking process to help them begin the process of ideation,” said Kylie Appel, executive officer of Tikkun Olam Makers Melbourne.

TOM is an international movement of communities aiming to create affordable solutions for people living with disabilities, the elderly and the poor.

“There is no incentive except to do good, and the impact is so tangible and immediate that it ticks a lot of boxes,” said Ben Shemesh, manager of innovation and development at TOM.

In its first run in Ballarat, TOM has set three challenges for the multidisciplinary makers to tackle over the next month, with a budget of $500.

Maker’s skills include engineers, physiotherapists, industrial designers, biomechanics, and carpenters.

Now, the multidisciplinary teams are working on blueprinting two workshopped solutions. Programming a daily schedule app and helping design shoes with more accessible laces.

“All the solutions we create are available in the public domain and are open source, we don’t patent it. Everyone living with a disability should have access to affordable solutions,” said Mr Shemesh.

A long-term vision of TOM is for the solutions to be globally available, “think of it as an IKEA instruction manual but for the assistive technology world,” said Ms Appel.

“We’re really excited about expanding TOM into Ballarat and the regions around, because TOM has a place in every community, and there are people with a whole range of skills looking for a place to use it.”