Do-It-Yourself Assistive Technology

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Assistive Technology commonly refers to “…products, devices or equipment, whether acquired commercially, modified or customized, that are used to maintain, increase or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities…“, according to the definition proposed in the Assistive Technology Act of 1998.  Another word to describe Assistive Technology is expensive!  Fortunately, there are numerous programs to help families find assistive devices and equipment they need through lending libraries, grant organizations, school systems, and health insurance equipment benefits.  AT doesn’t need to be fancy, however, and there are lots of AT solutions that can be created with your own two hands and materials found around the house. 

“Necessity is the mother of invention.”  We know our children best, and we dedicate a great deal of time making sure their needs are met.  Sometimes, there are devices that we can buy to meet those needs; occasionally, a commercial tool may not yet exist.  Here are some examples of the ingenuity that parents are capable of when it comes to making sure their children have all they need to succeed:

Parents with disabilities have developed some very clever ways of adapting typical household items to accommodate for their needs.  Visit  Disabled Parents for ideas regarding tips for caring for an infant while sitting in a wheelchair, and much more.

Tots-N-Tech  presents homemade adaptive/assistive devices for kids, arranged by activity or functional skills.  The ideas are organized into the following categories: Using arms and hands, socializing with peers and adults, getting around, and communication.

 Our-Kids , a site offering support to families of children with disabilities and special health care needs, offers instructions for creating some homemade equipment (switches to operate toys, seating, toy and equipment storage.)

There are several sites that specialize in do-it-yourself projects to meet the needs of adults with disabilities.  Some sites even offer message boards for individuals to post their adaptive/assistive technology needs to see if anyone has ever solved the problem in the past.  For more information, contact ATSolutions or HandiHelp


Have you adapted any toys or equipment, or built any high-tech or low-tech assistive technology for yourself or your child?  Email us at info@mitoaction.org so we can share with the community!  We’d love to hear from you!