HuskyADAPT (Accessible Design And Play Technology) - Portable Tool Kits for Toy Adaptation Events
Department of Bioengineering
HuskyADAPT (Accessible Design And Play Technology) is a registered student organization that fosters an inclusive, sustainable, and multidisciplinary community supporting accessible design and play technology. One major mechanism by which HuskyADAPT achieves this mission is hosting twice-monthly toy adaptation events where attendees are taught to make off-the-shelf electronic toys more accessible to children with disabilities. This involves opening the toy, assessing the circuit, and soldering a headphone jack into the toy. This headphone jack allows for a variety of alternative activation switches to be plugged into the toy so that the toy can be activated by actions that work with the user’s abilities (such as tilting one’s head, moving one finger, blinking, or etc.) This is the core of “Accessible Design And Play Technology”, which involves a design approach that fosters a more inclusive product so individuals with all abilities can engage in play with developmentally important toys. Toy adaptation is a unique opportunity to 1) teach students technical skills such as soldering and tool usage, 2) explain complex concepts such as circuits in a tangible way, 3) create a platform for students from diverse educational backgrounds to interact and discuss social justice and access issues affecting our community, and 4) impact our Seattle community by increasing access to accessible and developmentally important toys. In the last four years, we have hosted 60 toy adaptation workshops and adapted 690 toys. These toy adaptation workshops typically have 20-30 students in attendance and students work to adapt toys in small (3-4 people), collaborative groups. Due to the pandemic, we cannot host in-person events, but the needs still exist for 1) teaching students technical skills and academic concepts, 2) creating a platform for students from diverse educational backgrounds to interact and problem solve together, and 3) providing accessible, developmentally important toys to the Seattle community. This project seeks to create portable tool kits that can be borrowed by our network of trained UW student volunteers to participate in virtual toy adaptation events. When it is possible to have socially distant events, having more kits will allow us to host workshops where each student volunteer has their own kit such that we minimize sharing of tools. After the pandemic is over and we return to having regular events, these portable tool kits will continue to be used and will increase the capacity at our events and make our events more location-flexible.