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 we do? 

This project strives to teach students, engineers, clinicians, and community members how to adapt toys for children with disabilities – creating an innovative and inclusive environment for adapted play.

Play is an important part of childhood development, as it enhances motor skills, introduces the idea of cause and effect, and promotes independence.  Yet, children with disabilities often cannot use commercial toys as they were originally designed. For example, a child with spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic disease that impacts muscle strength, may struggle to press a small button to activate a toy. An adapted toy, however, can be activated by an alternate method such as moving a finger or tilting one’s head. This adaptation process makes toys more accessible to children of all abilities while fostering education, equity, and inclusion.

Four individuals working at a table. They are huddled around a toy train that has been opened up to reveal the electronics inside. One individual holds a soldering iron and is getting ready to solder inside the toy
Three individuals sit at a table. They are all huddled around a children's toy which is opened up.

Why we we do it: 

For the Toy Adapters:
Through the process of adapting toys, individuals learn complex concepts such as circuitry and reverse engineering while also learning transferable technical skills like soldering. Perhaps most importantly, our adapters become engaged in broader conversations about accessibility and universal design. Toy adaptation gives people a concrete example of how their education can be utilized to promote inclusivity and make a substantial difference in their community.
For the Adapted Toy Recipients:
Adapted toys can be purchased online, but often cost 3 to 5 times that of an unadapted toy. By adapting toys right here in Seattle, we can grant more users access to adapted toys and their developmental benefits. These adapted toys are donated directly to families,clinics, schools, and adapted toy libraries.
A top down view of a toy train sitting on a table next to a digital multimeter. The train is open and in the process of being adapted
A young girl and her mother sitting at a table. The young girl is ipressing a button. Both are looking at a toy train in the foreground which is activating as the button is pressed.

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.

Recent Media Coverage: 

UW College of Engineering Highlight

King 5 Covers Holiday Toy Hack

Bioengineering Honors Team Trains Clinicians

UW BioE Covers Highschool Outreach

UW CoE Reports on Holiday Toy Hack

UW BioE Covers Holiday Toy Hack