A Well Kept Secret
The Nakamura Disability Lab is one of UC Berkeley’s well-kept secrets tucked away inside one end of the Hearst Annex complex. With its mission of “Making Better Crips,” the lab has been operational since 2018 and led by Prof. Karen Nakamura who is the endowed chair for Disability Studies and Professor of Anthropology.
The group of student URAPers (Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program) at the lab include lab manager Nate Tilton and URAP researchers Olivia Cheng, Gloria Kunder, Irlanda Gonzalez, Josh Lavine, Chris Moreno, Ewan Seo, Mimi Shalf, Hari Srinivasan, Enrico Cruvinel, Christian Leycam, and Kristie Diep.
Teams at Work
- Team Thumbless
- Team P^3 for Sense-able computing input
- Team Apple Pi for Sense-able computing output
- Team Propaganda
The lab is working towards creating a “multi-sensory, tactile, screenless and Turing-complete programming environment” or what the lab has termed “Sense-able Computing.”
The teams were asked to develop all iterations using low cost easily disposable material like cardboard. A “fail-quickly” approach. Use of material like cardboard meant less attachment to the model which allowed for more innovation and quick alterations. Though 3D printed models mean studier housing they also lead to attachment to the model and move beyond it. The end product would however be a 3D printed model.
Low-Cost Technology Solutions
An important focus for the lab has also been finding low-cost technology solutions for people disabilities.
Community members and other guest speakers have also attended the weekly Wednesday meetings to speak on the work they were doing or add their input to what the lab was doing.