The current state of function and design of accessible assistive technology is lacking, evidenced by low usability and high abandonment rates by people with disabilities (PwD). A significant contributing factor to these negative outcomes is a lack of user-centered design or user-opinion in the product development. The Human Performance and Mobility Maker Lab (HPML) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is a new facility dedicated to developing assistive technology by PwDs. Rather than being excluded from the design and innovation process, PwDs are the primary drivers of innovation at the HPML. The HPML’s the central tenet is ‘Designed by, not designed for’. The purpose of this paper is to explore various assistive technologies developed in the HPML while providing an empathic framework for other research groups to follow in integrating PwDs into the development and design of assistive technology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-152
Number of pages20
JournalDesign Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2024


  • assistive technology
  • empathy
  • industrial design
  • user-driven design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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