Jo Smith put on her shoes independently for the first time in more than 20 years last Sunday.
The Ballarat resident spent last weekend with a team of volunteer innovators, specialists and entrepreneurs at the Ballarat Tech School to work on creating solutions to two of her daily challenges - putting on her shoes and tying her shoelaces.
Ms Smith lives with a neurological degenerative muscular disease which limits mobility in her arms and legs. New assistive devices created especially for her by volunteers have helped increase her independence.
"Now I can put my shoes on and off by myself instead of getting the carers to do it," she said.
"It feels good that I don't have to rely on anyone else to put them on."
Innovators on 'Team Jo' created a mechanism that holds her shoe in place and elevates it to a useful angle.
They also developed a customised shoe horn with a hook handle that can be placed over Jo's hand to help slide her foot into the shoe.
Another team focused on creating an iPad app to help a woman with a severe intellectual disability know the day, time and her daily activity schedule when she wakes.
The Makeathon was hosted by TOM: Melbourne - TOM stands for Tikkun Olam Makers, a Hebrew phrase for acts of kindness.
Watch the video with volunteer Annabel Pitt below.
It is a global movement of innovators that creates and builds products to improve the lives of people with a disability, where there is no obvious or current solution in the market.
TOM Melbourne executive officer Kylie Appell said TOM used rapid prototyping techniques as an innovative way to boost access to asssistive products.
"There is not a lot of affordable products out there for people with a disability, so there is often a barrier for people to access technology they need," she said.
"TOM comes into the picture to be able to fill that gap and enable customisation."
Innovators at all Makeathon events create a digital product file in addition to a physical prototype.
These digital designs of the prototype and a step by step guide on how to make it are shared on TOM's global web platform, where anyone in the world who has a similar issue can access it.
"TOM is hoping to impact millions of lives by disseminating open source technology to allow anybody who is living with that same condition to have access to affordable solutions," Ms Appell said.
Ms Appell said Ballarat was selected to host the first regional TOM: Melbourne event because of its creativity and innovation hub, with the Tech School, Hackerspace and lots of entrepreneurs, skilled trades people and professionals.
Occupational therapist and graphic designer Annabel Pitt said it was an 'incredibly rewarding' opportunity to work with people with diverse skills and abilities to solve problems that can change someone's life for the better.
"Within the disability sector aids are so expensive and often have no customisability so it's been inspiring and satisfying to know we're providing an affordable device for anyone to use or adapt in the future," she said.
The Ballarat event was made possible with the support of the Ballarat Tech School and the Victorian Government.
TOM Melbourne is looking to return to Ballarat for a second Makeathon event next year and is hoping to hear from more people with a disability who could benefit from a customised solution to a daily challenge.
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