Existing DIY sites and a rant about copyright

2013 May 21
by Liz Henry
Existing DIY sites and a rant about copyright

We need more organized and more permanent repositories for open-sourcing and open licensing inventions, adaptations, and mods for access and mobility stuff. I worry that the inventors we do have will have their work be even more ephemeral on the web than it was in the days of pamphlets and small press books (that are just weeded nowadays by most public libraries.) This sounds grim, but say you documented your great one-button invention with all the electronics diagrams, photos, and so on. What happens when you die? Your site and its info will wither eventually. This is why I want to encourage folks to Creative Commons license their works. License the designs and plans to be as public and free and open as possible. Then others can gather and archive them, not just for an archive but for the general public in perpetuity.

I do want to give a nod to the hard work that went into projects like the AbleData DIY listings. Though many of them don’t include the actual details of how to make something, they at least have references that may help a person find the details. It must have been copyright law, or fear of it, that limited what the AbleData DIY project could do and share. The Do It Yourself listings used to be a bit more exposed, but now are only findable in a roundabout way. Here they are, all 1000+ of them:


At some point I scraped them with a bit of python, but here they are all as one page. They are easily copied, pasted, or saved as one giant document. Take a look!

Poking at a random entry, WRIST STRAP PICK.

PURPOSE: Pick for persons with contracted or amputated fingers or flaccid hand tone. Large flat and elongated plastic pick has an elastic cuff. Velcro strap adds support and adjustability. Pick can be rotated to the dorsal or ventral side of the hand. Strumming is done with arm movement. Includes drawing.
AUTHOR: Clark, C; Chadwick, D.
TITLE: Clinically Adapted Instruments for the Multiply Handicapped, A Sourcebook.
REF: Book: St louis; Magnamusic-Baton: p 26. NARIC CALL NUMBER: R0272. 1980.

I looked for Clinically Adapted Instruments in WorldCat, which shows that this book is in 236 libraries. Most of them are university libraries. So it is not something you would find anymore (if ever) in your public branch library. You can buy it on Amazon for 20 bucks though.

It would be awesome to get all the books like this, scan them, and put a giant wad of PDFs up somewhere. I do not mind breaking the copyright on some obscure book from 1980 and its kin. Though I could make a bit of effort to find the rights holder. This information should be as accessible and widely spread as possible!

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