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Hacking Holiday #Toys for Disabled Children

John Schimmel created what he calls an “Humana Instructable“. In it, he demonstrates a neat idea for how to adapt a toy train for use by a child with a physical disability. He writes:

For many kids with physical disabilities playing with off the shelf toys is not possible. Depending on their unique abilities a toy might not be accessible.

However, if a child can move their feet, head, arm, mouth or any other part of their body it is possible to use a switch to play with the toy. Accessibility switches come in a variety of styles witches/best-sellers .

This particular toy is a remote controlled train, we will add to switch jacks to the remote control unit so any accessibility switch can be used. If a child can move the mouth and left foot they can chase their cat with this train.

Adding switch jacks to this toy will not affect the original quality of use, the existing buttons will operate as normal.

This is a very cool idea! It’s obvious, but something you might not think about: disabled children may not be able to play with off-the-shelf toys. Fortunately, makers are in a unique position to improve the situation. Think about what an awesome gift it could be, and a great community project for a hackerspace, too!

After all, you know you’re going to hack that toy anyway.

Finally, I just wanna throw this out there: the Kinect is uniquely suited to be an accessible input device. Hack amongst yourselves… 🙂

UPDATE: check out this awesome contest over at Instructables for creating assistive technology!

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  1. Thanks for the post John.

    Just a quick note, there is a friendly competition on Instructables for assistive technology that everyone should enter. It’s not about the prize but getting people thinking about how to support each other and do a little hacking at the same time.

  2. This mods are indeed very easy to make! I know first hand from participating with a charity group in Cleveland, OH that holds workshops at universities and local companies to modify and repair these custom toys for disabled kids in the area. Check them out!

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