Making Media: Accessibility at IdeaSpace

Access Services Librarian Babak Zarin shares the many creative--and accessible--options available at CRRL’s IdeaSpace facility.

Set in a one-floor building with easy curbside entry, IdeaSpace: Making+Media, opens a new window, located at 1616 Princess Anne Street in Fredericksburg, has helped hundreds of visitors learn more about the latest in creative and artistic technology.

Visitors are first greeted by Pepper the Robot, opens a new window. Pepper is a human-shaped, child-sized robot with artificial intelligence that often greets visitors by inviting them to play a series of games. Pepper is very friendly and fun-loving and a great greeter! After visitors meet Pepper, it’s time for an introduction to the tech itself.

IdeaSpace has both tech to use in the building and tech you can take home with you. In-house tech includes an audio-visual (AV) recording booth, sewing equipment, 3D printers, laser cutters, and more. Tech on the Go, opens a new window is a collection of audio and video recording devices that are available for checkout to those 18 and older who have been issued a CRRL card.

Before using IdeaSpace’s in-house tech independently, visitors will need to learn how to operate it. CRRL’s training system, called MakerLab Badging, opens a new window, is partially available online for some devices but must be completed with a visit by appointment, opens a new window to IdeaSpace, where a team member will give hands-on instruction. Once badging for a piece of in-house equipment is complete, visitors can reserve equipment, opens a new window for up to two hours at a time.

Badging instruction, opens a new window is available for the 3D printer, the 3D scanner, the drawing tablet, the laser cutter, the sewing machine, the embroidery machine, the serger, the AV booth, and the video converter. Check back often, as new equipment may be available. Some badging tutorials use introductory YouTube videos, averaging three to six minutes in length, as a first step. These videos include closed captioning and limited audio description.

For people who would like additional help, much of the equipment has instructions that can be sent via email as a PDF or Word document for a screen reader to read aloud--or the font can be enlarged as desired for easier reading.

I personally tried out and was badged both on the video conversion and drawing tablet technologies. The process for each wasn’t terribly complicated. When I arrived to complete the instruction at IdeaSpace, I was greeted and assisted by IdeaSpace Specialist Simon Watts, who guided me and discussed the actual pieces of machinery involved. The entire thing took about a half hour, but getting to make sure old photos and videos could be accessed by today’s devices and trying out drawing on a tablet was great fun.

So, come give IdeaSpace a try! To learn more about it, check out their webpage, opens a new window and Instagram, opens a new window accounts, which feature additional photos and video footage of happenings at IdeaSpace, including some of the many projects people have created using the technology available there. There are also samples of original recordings from the AV booth that can be heard and seen as part of the CRRL’s IdeaSpace Presents series, which can be found at this YouTube Playlist, opens a new window.