In this paper, we present the results of a study of the e‑NABLE community–a distributed, collaborative volunteer effort to design and fabricate upper-limb assistive technology devices for distant strangers. We position e‑NABLE as the prototypical example of “Do-it-yourself For Others Assistive Technology” (DFO‑AT) and describe three key findings: how the project does and does not meet the recipient's nuanced needs for functional and social support; how e‑NABLE volunteers' motivations compare to those of volunteers for other efforts, including open source software projects; and we explore the challenges inherent in the distance between volunteers and recipients. We also describe opportunities for future research into DFO‑AT activities and support tools.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.

Publication Date


Document Type

Technical Report

Department, Program, or Center

Information Sciences and Technologies (GCCIS)


RIT – Main Campus