Equity and Accessibility with Makers Empire

At Makers Empire, we believe that all students should be able to create and learn in a safe, inclusive, and welcoming environment. 

We believe that all students, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ability, socio-economic status, or geographical location, deserve high-quality education technology tools. 

Makers Empire’s products and plans for school customers and home users include features and tools to help make Makers Empire a more accessible and equitable learning tool. 

Accessibility Tools and Features

Makers Empire has multiple tools and features to help make learning a positive and engaging experience for learners including:

  • Visual Design: Makers Empire is designed with high-contrast colours to assist users with visual impairments. We avoid using colour as the sole method of conveying information;
  • Touch Targets: Our interfaces are designed with large touch targets to aid users with fine motor and dexterity needs, ensuring ease of use; and
  • Text-to-Speech tool: To support younger learners and learners with varying literacy levels. When a user clicks on the audio icon next to a written instruction the audio function will read aloud the text.
“Winning a prize in the showcase and having our students (who have an intellectual disability) confidently present and share their project was a MAJOR success. Our students love using Makers Empire and I will continue (using) it in all aspects of learning.”
Phillip Haig, Teacher, Jackson School, Australia

Made to Enable Equity in Design

Makers Empire has been built to promote an equitable experience for our users and community. Our strategies include:

  • Inclusive Design: Makers Empire is crafted with deep consideration for all potential users, incorporating features like multilingual support and culturally relevant content to cater to a diverse user base. Makers Empire is available in English, Arabic, Ukrainian, Spanish and Chinese languages.
  • Affordability and Access: We are mindful of data usage and internet accessibility, offering offline functionality and a lite version of our app to ensure it remains accessible in regions with limited internet access.
  • User Feedback: We actively seek and integrate feedback from a broad spectrum of users to continuously refine our app and ensure it meets diverse needs effectively.
  • Privacy and Security: We prioritize robust and transparent privacy and security features, especially for vulnerable populations, providing users with control over their personal data.
  • Education and Support: Makers Empire offers comprehensive user manuals and in-app support designed to be clear and accessible, helping users from all backgrounds navigate and utilize our app successfully. 
My STEM class is a place where ALL students can participate and create. Makers Empire has helped level this playing field and create equality among my students.”

Christopher Burdman,
 Teacher, Boston Public Schools 

An Inclusive and Welcoming Environment

Makers Empire provides a safe, inclusive learning environment for students. We promote diversity and inclusion in a number of ways, such as:

  • Use of Avatars: Users are represented in the Makers Empire world with an avatar, which is a useful way to protect students’ identities while also allowing them to personalise their appearance;
  • Diverse Options: Users can choose from an inclusive and diverse range of avatar feature options (e.g. eyes, hair, skin tone, and nose shape);
  • Unique Looks: Users can design character features, original outfits and accessories from scratch to create completely unique looks; and
  • Diverse Characters: The Makers Empire world is populated with a diverse cast of human, animal and fantasy characters who guide users.
“Makers Empire is a fantastic project that provides multiple benefits to students, teachers and schools. One of the most amazing things I saw was a non-verbal (by choice) student in year five, (being) involved in multiple, on-task conversations and actively involved in the problem-solving process. This student now says hello to me every day.”

Teacher, Queensland 
iPad with cute 3D design avatar

Levelling the Playing Field for Students with Varying Support Needs

Aurora Makers Empire_6687

Makers Empire is well-loved by students with varying support needs and their teachers for many reasons including:

  • Spatial Reasoning Skills: Many neurodiverse students have excellent spatial reasoning skills so they excel at learning using Makers Empire;
  • Way to Express Ideas: Makers Empire provides an alternative way for students to express their ideas without relying heavily on traditional forms of literacy and numeracy and verbal communication skills;
  • Gamified Learning: Many young autistic people are experienced and capable gamers so they have an affinity for game-based EdTech; and
  • Neuro Affirming: Makes Empire supports neuro affirming, rich and engaging learning experiences for students with visual and interactive learning, customisable learning pace, differentiated instruction, empowerment through creativity, engagement and motivation, inclusivity and accessibility, and collaboration opportunities.
“The majority of my kids, when they started the school year, were more than a year and a half behind in reading and Maths. And (because of) what I’ve been able to do with Makers Empire and 3D design this year, many of my kids have grown more than a year and a half. With this program, I’m being able to close that gap for these kids… For kids that have special needs or are on ILPs (Individual Learning Plans), Makers Empire is perfect for them. For kids who have learning disabilities or who are cognitively delayed, it works really well for those kids, too…I can’t tell you the number of pictures I have of kids with their hands in the air and they’re like ‘yes! I did this!’”
Robin McGinnis, North/South/Jr. High Lead Teacher-STEAM for the Mount Healthy City School District 

Embracing Differentiated Learning Experiences

Rather than a ‘one size fits all’ solution, with Makers Empire, teachers can support students to be successful via differentiated instruction related to:

  • Design: How broad or specific the learning task is for students;
  • Content: The content students engage with in the learning task;
  • Processes: The processes students apply in the learning task; and
  • Products: The products the students produce as an outcome of the learning task.
“Each student is able to have an account for their designs and can work at their pace which is meeting them on their individual need. Through this, my after-school STEM club has gained interest to where students had to be put on a waiting list. Students have discussed participating in STEM clubs in middle school and high school as well as more interest in engineering-type careers.”
Casey Corn, STEM Teacher, Chesnee Elementary School, South Carolina, USA 

Supporting Learners with Vision ​& Audio Impairments

Montana School Blind Deaf

Students with impaired vision and audio at the Montana School for the Deaf and the Blind have used Makers Empire in creative ways including:

  • Teaming up: Students have paired up to share their strengths, worked on a SmartBoard together and worked with a teacher;
  • Assistive features: Students have used features like text-to-speech and zoom; and
  • External accessibility tools: Students have use Makers Empire in conjunction with external accessibility tools like JAWS and Fusion.
“Though Makers Empire is more geared towards students that are middle school and younger, I find that my students with Visual Impairments of all ages are able to use it because it is a bit easier to use with fewer complicated pieces that add to the visual distractions… Many of our students do not like to edit/make changes/improve in daily work. However, students will notice ‘mistakes’ in their prints and are willing and excited to go through the Engineering Design Process to make changes. This is now spilling over to other areas and I love it! Makers Empire has really opened students up to the possibilities of creating in 3D and possible career paths that they can follow.”
Erin Barr, Teacher, Montana School for the Deaf and the Blind (MSDB)

Remote and Distance Learning Enabled

Makers Empire is used by students at school, home, and geographically remote locations. Teachers appreciate built-in tools and features including: 

  • Challenge Courses: Comprising videos, quizzes, tutorials and design challenges, our popular in-app Challenge Courses are focused on a topic and aligned to curriculum or the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Customised Design Missions: Teachers can assign their students a pre-made Design Missions or create their own custom Design Mission in the Teacher Dashboard. Design Mission then appear in the Makers Empire app for students to complete.
  • In-Built Extension Activities:  With in-built challenges, training lab, tutorials, games and competitions as well as free-form design creation, eager students can extend the learning at home.
  • Offline Usage: Geographically remote locations may experience limited internet usage. Makers Empire offers offline functionality and a lite version of the app to ensure it is always accessible.
“My students continue their learning at home completing challenges and developing new skills. This is the true value of software. It can provide a platform for students who are enthusiastic to keep learning after the school bell rings…” 
Jay Wright, SET, STLAN and Technologies Teacher, Vale View State School

Helping Students Develop a Growth Mindset and Resilience

With a growth mindset, people believe their intelligence, talents and abilities can be developed through persistence, effort and hard work. With Makers Empire, 3D design and optional 3D printing, students learn to:

  • Iterate on designs;
  • Gain feedback from their peers;
  • Test designs and fix problems;
  • Normalise mistakes and ‘failures’; and
  • Be persistent and keep working towards better solutions.
“I don’t think there was one child in the group that didn’t achieve something with it… Also, there was never a problem with them going back and doing something again. If this was a writing project and I asked them, ‘can you go back and redo this?’, the kids would groan. But, if we said, ‘I really like the way you did this but can you go back and try this?’, they would,”
Joann Packer, Deputy Principal, Mundulla Primary School

Sponsored Accessible STEM programs for Schools

Makers Empire is proud to have partnered with the Andy Thomas Space Foundation (ATSF) and the Australian Space Discovery Centre for the last three years to deliver the pioneering Aurora Program, which provides:

  • Accessible Space Education: Aurora offers engaging and accessible space education opportunities for schools catering to students with a disability. Aurora caters to students who have disabilities or identified factors of educational disadvantage including living with Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, ADHD, mental health conditions, and other learning disabilities;
  • Site Visits: Aurora offers private school visits to the Australian Space Discovery Centre, and on-site workshop customised for students;
  • Professional Development: Aurora provides professional development, training and support for teachers; and
  • Resources: Aurora includes a Makers Empire school subscription for 12 months and a 3D printer, filament, training and support.
“The feedback from students and staff has been overwhelmingly positive. One student was so proud of his finished product. You’ll never believe this – when he ran out to find us to show his creation he said, “Kaitlyn and Dani look at it!” It’s the first time he has been excited enough in his efforts to say our name to get our attention!”
Teacher, South Australia