November 29, 2012 AT 10:46 am

Hacking For The Holidays: Making Toys Accessible for Children with Disabilities – Dec. 2nd and 8th in NYC!

Hacking for the Holidays is a wonderful program created by my friend, NYU ITP alum John Schimmel. 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 head, feet, arm, mouth or any other part of their body it is possible to use a switch to play with the toy.
Adding switch jacks to a toy will not affect the original quality of use, the existing buttons will operate as normal and kids who use accessibility switches will now be able to operate the toy.

The event is a neat twist on the traditional soldering workshop, with a great mission at it’s heart, and great people running it. It’s also a lot of fun!

The idea is simple:

  • you bring a (new) battery-powered toy to be modified and then donated.
  • John and his team will teach you how to solder up new hardware so that the toy can be used by a child with a disability.
  • all the additional hardware and tools will be provided.

There are two Hacking for the Holidays events in New York City this year — December 2nd and 8th. Check out the website for more info and to sign up!

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  1. If anyone happens to be in the midwest, there is also Replay For Kids. These are great charities and great ways to show your friends how much fun soldering can be!


  2. What an excellent project!
    Any good suggestions for where accessibility switches can be sourced from?

  3. Accessibility switches can be purchased from most assistive technology stores/resellers. 2 popular ones are Enabling Devices (http://enablingdevices.com/catalog/capability_switches) and Enablemart (http://www.enablemart.com/Catalog/Switches).

    Since all the accessibility jacks are the same, an standard 1/8″ mono audio jack you can make your own switches with a mono audio plug! Solder two wires to the plug and some wire tin foil around your knees. Tap knees together. You got yourself a fun switch.

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