Marketing the Maker community to therapists

I think if you asked a typical therapist what a “Maker” is, they’d likely guess that it’s part of the name of a kitchen appliance. As an organization with an actual budget, I’d like to see MMC actively getting the word out about Makers and how to engage them effectively.

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One in road to accessing therapists that I think could be useful is special needs schools. Go to a therapist for a school for the blind with a selection of AT that would be directly useful to their population, and you can have hundreds of potential AT users through one contact. By identifying a series of these schools, and speaking directly to their needs, you create a large audience with few direct contacts.

And Nursing Homes

I don’t know how many special needs schools (other than schools specifically for students who are blind) exist anymore given the push for inclusion over the last decade. As a result, all school districts (in the US at least) have departments of therapists who serve the district. That might be a place to go - and that’s what I’ve tried to do. I try to use keyguards as an entree, since there’s always a need for evaluation keyguards.

I think that the special needs schools will often be private or charter schools. I did a search for “Schools for the autistic”, as I thought that could be an example of population that would benefit from the communication aids, as well as some of the dexterity aids, and found 2 pages of them in the Pittsburgh region. Several of them were chains of schools that may have several campuses in the area or even nationally, I would need to check closer. I just see these as an avenue to large populations that can be assisted with minimal points of contacts.

@KenHackbarth @oik2 thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. It’s true that due to the maker movement’s fairly new existence, it can be tough to voice what a maker is, especially to the uninitiated. We do reach out to OTs and Disability professionals regarding our mission and what makers do which so far has worked for explaining what a maker is. I’m sure there is more we could be doing to inform people - so we will take your thoughts into consideration! Thanks!

What is your “Call to Action” to the professionals? Is there a way you can break it down to a form that they can fill out to fulfill a need. Finding a way into their workflow might be the key. Maybe refocus the sell away from what a Maker is and more to what a Maker can do for them. “This is what we do, this is how you can get it done, now do it!”. Defining Makers in a way to be understood by people who have never experienced Makers takes lots of time and they don’t really understand much more. If there was a way to sell them on a Maker caricature without throwing a ton of details at them, it could work well. Save all of the details on how we do it until they are more prepared (by seeing what we do) until they ask, or just a later meeting.

A little story to illustrate this: I went to my sister’s house to fix her 3 year old son’s tablet. Factory reset to let him start his game pile over again. He asked her how I can make the tablet better, and she told him I was a wizard and that I know the spells to make it happen. She did not want to try to explain how I was going to do it (though he watched while I did it), and instead created a character that he was able to accept quickly and wanted to learn the secrets of. In the years since, he has shown me some things he has figured out how to do on the tablet. He’s gonna be a wizard too.

I am not equating adults to 3 year olds, but just like a mother answering the questions of a 3 year old, your time to express things to the therapists is limited, so selecting a shared vocabulary over educating them to a new vocabulary could be a better use of this time. Use this shared vocabulary to express Makers as they relate directly to their needs.

Hmm that’s a lovely perspective and such a cute story. I’m sure for the context of fixing your young nephew’s tablet that approach was best.

Our interactions with Disability Professionals is more complex, you’re right, and isn’t exactly set in stone. We cater to the needs of that individual person and if they are receptive to more information we certainly share. We are always improving our approach and the goal is to get as many people on board as possible - so that requires flexibility in how we pitch MMC. I hope this helps to address your question.

Hey all,

I am an OT and new Chapter leader in Phoenix. I also happen to work a private day school specifically for students with special needs. We have students with a broad range of abilities and diagnosis. I got into the AT Maker game a few years back out of necessity and was pumped when it started to take off. I would suggest located your states AT (Assistive Tech) program and starting there. I presented over the summer on the benefits of AT Making and the use of high school STEM teams. I also feel as an OT that we are a perfect disability pro to target as we are trained to adapt (hack) and DIY (Make) items in school based on a persons needs. I will be reaching out to local OT programs, both OT and COTA, to help spread the word. Also most school districts have AT teams that specialize in the use of AT within that school. Feel free to email me if you have any questions mlevac2315@gmail.com.

Thanks!!

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Hey @mlevac thanks for sharing your advice!

Thx Ken for being an awesome and supportive member of our community! If anyone would like access to our presentation to spread the word about Makers Making Change at their org, send me an email! I will connect with you to ensure you understand the project and scope, then pass you on the presentation!
zeek@neilsquire.ca

@oik2 I agree, we are about to launch our new improved site, which has a much clearer call to action regarding this. Also the integration of the forum more formally into the site will make this a bit more obvious. Also see my reply to Ken above re the presentation if you’d like access-I’ve recently changed it, interested to hear your feedback. I will DM you the link