Toy Adaptation

Mission statement:  Foster an inclusive, sustainable, and multidisciplinary community supporting accessible design and play technology through: 

♦ Teaching students, engineers, clinicians, and community members toy adaptation

♦ Increasing access to adapted toys in Seattle and the state of Washington by donating toys and creating adapted toy libraries 

♦ Inspiring diverse future problem-solvers in accessibility through outreach efforts with elementary, middle, and high school students 

What do you do? 

People with disabilities often cannot use toys as they were originally designed. For example, a child with spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic disease that impacts  muscle strength, often cannot reach and push a small button on an electronic toy. This inability to interact with a toy means that the child cannot gain the developmental benefits of play such as learning cause and effect, developing motor skills, and increasing independence. When a toy is adapted, the toy can be activated by an alternative method that is suitable for the child’s unique abilities (for example, moving a finger or tilting one’s head). This adaptation makes the toy more accessible for inclusive play. The central focus of this project is teaching students, engineers, clinicians, and community members to adapt toys for children with disabilities - creating an innovative and inclusive environment for adapted play. 


Why is it impactful? 

This project is impactful on multiple levels - both for the people receiving the toys, and for the people conducting the adaptation. People adapting toys learn complex concepts such as circuitry and reverse engineering while also learning technical skills such as soldering and using hand tools. Perhaps most importantly, adapters become engaged in broader conversations about accessibility and universal design, learning how they are essential to promoting inclusivity for people with diverse abilities and backgrounds in their communities. Broadly, this project shows participating Huskies an example of how their education can be utilized to make a difference in their community. Additionally, adapted toys allow more users to engage with them and gain developmental benefits. Although adapted toys are available online, they are expensive, often 3-5 times the cost of an unadapted toy. We seek to increase access to these adapted toys by donating toys to families as well as by establishing adapted toy libraries that families can visit and borrow toys. 

Types of projects: 

We have held toy adaptation events with students of all ages (from elementary through graduate students), clinicians (physical, speech, and occupational therapists), and other community members. Adapted toys have been donated directly to families and to adapted toy libraries.