Week 6 – Progress All Around


Our registered participant count is too low for our tastes, so this week we made an effort to raise it by distributing flyers physically and visiting some organizations in person. We hope this will encourage sign-ups more than a simple email.

Heather and Parker visited the Human Engineering and Research Laboratories with UPitt. They are an organization that we have been hearing about since the beginning of the semester, but scheduling an official meeting was difficult. Thus, no official meeting was scheduled ahead of time and our visit came out somewhat improvised. An engineer opened the door for them and was willing to spend some time chatting about the event. The engineer also agreed to take some flyers and speak to his colleagues about ChairJam. 

Heather and Parker then went down the road to visit The Children’s Institute. The Children’s Institute is a pediatric facility for children with both physical and mental disabilities. We were hoping to recruit some volunteers from some of their older clientele (18) or ‘alumni’ of their care. We were able to meet with two employees of the Institute, who were quite receptive towards us. They told us that the chances are slim we could find someone in their clientele that fit the profile we wanted and had the time to spare, but promised to look around for us regardless. We also discussed coming back with the entire Joyride team at a later date to tour the facilities – they apparently have some very cool things around, like an accessible playground and garden.

Legal Counsel

We had a few legal questions spawning from Quarter’s Feedback and meetings with a few specialists. These are questions about injury liability, allergy liability (for food), security requirements, media release forms, research legalities, and how do we handle ownership of the products of ChairJam. In an effort to get some answers to these questions, we had a phone meeting with one of CMU’s resident lawyers. He was able to answer most of our questions with some reassuring certainty. Injury, allergy, and media releases are relatively simple to write up, it turns out. We should have those from the legal department soon. Security is a non-issue for a private event of this size, at most he recommended we have someone at the door to make it clear that it isn’t a public event. Ownership and research ended up being bigger questions. Ownership can get hairy if people with differing inherent ownership rights start working together. For example, the work of some CMU faculty is partially owned by the university, but all ETC students own their work. Given these possible disagreements, we have to make sure that we have a system in place to establish the ownership rights of all participants. This is something that would’ve been good to have in place before beginning recruitment. We decided by the end of the week that we would operate under a Creative Commons Attribution + ShareAlike license. This means that the work is open for public use and derivation, so long as the creators are credited and the resulting works are also released under the same license. Finally, the research question is something that needed to be clarified by our client at the HCII, Patrick Carrington. ChairJam itself isn’t specifically for data gathering, so we need to clear with Patrick that if any HCII faculty want to do so, they have an IRB set up in time. A later chat with Patrick ensured that this would be the case, but in all likelihood there would be no research whatsoever at the event.

Tour of 407 S Craig

This was the final story to our Venue Selection saga. We invited our registered wheelchair-using participant and her assistant to look around 407 South Craig and get their take on the space. We walked through the whole space that would be used, explaining how we planned to organize things and what areas would be used for what. We had them look at the bathrooms, the wheelchair-lift, ramps in the building, and anything that stuck out to us as relevant. Their response was, thankfully, not extremely negative. While they recognized the building wasn’t perfect, it also isn’t absolutely terrible. The worst parts, such as the wheelchair-lift and ramp in the back, are things that we hope to mitigate the use of as much as possible. According to our plan, the lift will see no use whatsoever. The bathrooms were surprisingly accommodating, at least to this particular person’s abilities. Our actual jam space is fairly large and all the tables and chairs are on wheels, meaning it can be reconfigured as necessary. We even re-contacted CMU Parking and ensured that we could have the lot behind the building for at least two of the three days. Long story short, we feel comfortable sticking with 407 S Craig as our venue after getting it vetted by at least one actual wheelchair-using participant.


This week we also made a rudimentary prototype with our personal wheelchair. The goal of the prototype was mainly to ensure that we could read the rotation of the wheels digitally and have a little fun while doing so. What we ended up with was an experience in which the wheels of the chair act as a sort of DJ’s turntables, allowing you to manipulate a song being played by turning them. We rigged up a platform for the chair so that this could be done without rolling all over the place. The prototype is functional, but could use some improvements before being considered final. We used a Vive & trackers to track the rotation of the wheels, though in the future we want to work with arduinos as well.