This month, our community spotlight features Matthew Butler, Associate Professor at the Department of Human-Centred Computing at Monash University. Matthew recently participated on a panel of experts, helping TOM: Melbourne select 8 key challenges for our upcoming Makeathon in September.
How did you come to be involved with TOM: Melbourne?
I found out about TOM: Melbourne through a fellow researcher here at Monash University, who let me know about the upcoming Assistive Technology Makeathon. We have a group of researchers here at Monash working in a wide variety of areas to support those with a disability, and they knew this would be right in my wheelhouse. As soon as I heard I looked into it and jumped on board.
What was your role and experience participating on the panel?
My research area is primarily in investigating the role emerging technologies can have in supporting access to visual information and content by people who are blind or have low vision (BLV). I have been working in this area for close to a decade and have numerous research projects investigating this in conjunction with the wider BLV and stakeholder community. So I bring a wealth of experience in both working with the blind and low vision community and also as a technologist considering the role new tech can play in supporting people.
What are you looking forward to about the Makeathon weekend?
I can't wait to see how our makers will approach the great set of challenges that we have. Often there is a simple, yet lateral thinking, approach to solving these... a way of attacking the challenge from a whole other angle. It is when that happens that I simultaneously get incredibly excited, and also slap my forehead and wonder, "How did I not ever think of that!". It's because solving these challenges requires as diverse a set of makers and problem solvers as possible, and this is the strength of these kind of events.