The Berkeley Disability Lab was formed as a nexus for disability research, media, and design in the Bay Area. It combines the functions of a purposefully-accessible and cross-disability inclusive makerspace, reseach lab, and teaching space.

One of the mantras of the Maker Movement is that, “if you can’t repair it or hack it, you don’t own it.” Disabled people are often actively prevented from repairing, hacking, or extending the access devices that they’re given. And yet there is also a thriving making/crafting/hacking movement in the disability community that is actively thinking around technology, disability, and design. I'm excited to be part of this.

As part of bringing me to campus, Berkeley made a commitment to building me a lab in central campus focused on disability, access, and design. My intention is that this will serve as a nexus for disability studies on campus, help bring the Bay Area disability community into dialogue with campus, and help promote the next generation of disabled researchers, makers, scientists, designers, and engineers.

Disaster and Emergency Planning

The lab is working on producing information as well as workshops specifically targeted at the disability community to better help them prepare for natural disaster and regional emergencies, such as wildfire, public safety power shut-offs, earthquakes.

Info sheets (now properly linked):
  • Small gas generators (PDF, RTF, TXT)
  • Lithium-Ion Battery Packs for use by CPAPs and other small devices (PDF, RTF, TXT)
  • Heating your home when the power is out (PDF, RTF, TXT)
  • Charging your power chair or scooter when the power is out (PDF, RTF, TXT)
  • Room air filtration (PDF, RTF, TXT)

One of the more complicated projects we're working on is how to tap the batteries in your powerchair or scooter for enough power to run a CPAP or respirator overnight. Our calculations suggest that with the larger wheelchair battery packs, you should be able to tap enough to run a CPAP overnight and still have some power for mobility to a charging location the next day. For example, the Group 34 batteries used in Permobil M300 and other large chairs have two 50Ah @ 12 volt batteries - that's a nominal 1200 Watt-hours. Running CPAP overnight (with the heater turned off) is around 300 watt hours, so it will use only 25% of the total capacity. Please stay tuned.

Youtube short videos on disaster / emergency planning

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We welcome suggestions for additional material needed by the community.

Information being provided as a community service during this period of emergency but we cannot take responsibility for errors and omissions. Please always check with an electrician, durable medical equipment provider, or your physician.

Student Projects

The UC Berkeley Disability Lab Logo features a chronically ill person wrenching on a wheelchair user who has racing flames next to a person with prosthetic limbs and someone using a service dog

Currently the Undergraduate Research (URAP) students are working on the following projects:

  • Sensible/Sense-able Computing (an offshoot of the Blind Arduino Tutorial Project that SCoPI Sabrina Lee headed 2018-2019 with PI Dr. Joshua Miele, then at Smith-Kettlewell).
  • Accessible Gaming
  • Hacking PowerChairs and other CripCraft®

More information to follow.

SCoPI = Student Co-Principal Investigator)

RADLab Logo by Sydney Osugi, RADLab URAP 2018-2019.