In 2010, I took the class “Wheelchair Design and Construction” (ENGR 620) with Ralf Hotchkiss and Bob Incerti at San Francisco State University. Our classroom/workshop was basic and accessible — Ralf loss voluntary control of everything from his waist down from a motorcycle accident in the mid-60’s. When I returned to Albuquerque, one of the things I wanted was access to a similar workshop — where I have basic tools to build wheelchairs or other wheeled-mobility devices and where a “vertically-challenged” individual like me can reach most things! I started in our garage then quickly spread into the backyard. But when I started welding, we needed more space. We decided to rent a warehouse not too far from our house.
Since I started 505access, I have met with or received messages from family and friends of walker/wheelchair users and wheelchair users themselves, telling me that I am not alone in my need for an accessible workshop. For example, Robby had an idea for an Off-road Power Wheelchair and was trying to modify an old Invacare TDX SP for his prototype. He has some tools but “usually just go and get what i need when i need it.” Not only does this cost more than buying sets of tools or larger quantity of hardware parts at whole sale prices but it stretches the length of the building process.
Last Fall, I visited Quelab, Albuquerque’s Hackerspace. I found Quelab to be similar to 505access, the main difference being that 505access is a one-level, accessible space where tools and parts are all within my [short] reach including my welding equipment. At 505access, we work on crafts as well as walkers, wheelchairs, strollers, etc. not unlike Quelab.
Recently, Quelab went through transformations from a for-profit limited liability corporation to a nonprofit corporation. Quelab officers have been extremely helpful in sharing with us, the process (and paperwork!) of their transformation. Members at Quelab help shape not only their physical space but also determine the workshops/classes or services that are offered. Now they are helping us in our transformation.
If you’re interested in an inclusive, accessible makerspace where people can find like-minded individuals to help formulate, discuss, hash-out ideas and make things, let us know. We’re not looking for commitments, only suggestions of things that would make your life easier or just more beautiful. Let us know what you think and what we can make together! Feel free to email Alice, use our Contact Us page or call Alice at 333-8849 with your ideas.