The DesignAbility Program has created hundreds of custom solutions for children and adults. Below are some examples of these unique furniture projects:
Fold Up Step Ladder (for Truck)
Request: Client requested a set of Mother-In-Law steps in order to easily access / get into the family truck. Could we also make it foldable for easy storage?
Action: Baltic Birch was used to assemble a fold-flat set of steps, (6 1/2" rise) to suit teh need. Multiple hinges made it one unit, and hitch pins locked it together for stability. Safe and steady!
The Floating Cup Holder
Request: The client has lost the use of her arms and legs. Only her trunk and head remain under her control. She loves her morning coffee, but her OT was not happy to see her bending over to sip from her cup. Good posture can be incredibly important to someone in a wheelchair.
Action: Volunteer Don Mackenzie came up with a viable solution. A swing arm desk lamp was repurposed to provide a flexible cup holder which could be positioned at a convenient point above the table surface. The client can now enjoy her morning coffee while maintaining a healthy posture. The table surface is left clear for other uses.
Front Steps / Safety Issue
Request: Front steps are unsafe, can we help? Due to this consumers severe
rheumatoid arthritis he has limited use of his upper and lower body extremities
and cannot lift his foot high enough to reach the next step.
Action: Volunteer John Hodge produced a set of two wood steps that fit over an existing concrete setp. These new stairs are deeper ad have a lower step rise. The steps are made out of pressure treated lumber and have a black contrasting strip at the edge of the step to alert the user and prevent slipping. John also installed a secure braced railing on both sides of the stairs that offer safety and support. These new wood stairs are not fixed to the existing concrete steps, allowing them to be removed easily if needed.
Request: A request came into the Toronto Chapter from an OT to add 75lbs. of weight to a Rollator for her patient.
Action: Volunteers, Phillip Hang and Jennifer Hiseler explored multiple solutions before coming up with a removable wood bracket that can hold standard weights. This solution allows the Rollator to be transported and the weight to be adjusted.
Lunar Buggy / Mariposa Belle
Request: Camp Geneva needed repairs to the lunar buggy/mariposa belle.
Action: One new wheel assembly was shipped up and a new longer seat belt was aeembled and sent U.P.S.
Request: Project of Niagara Falls Chapter needed work. Power drill was not able to maintain its grip on tapered shaft. Battery removal was difficult.
Action: Using black & Decker fire-storm cordless drill with Hex-Drive output and a 3/8" Hex Driver bit, the grip problem was eliminated.
Features: Hex Slide-out feature allowed easy removal for re-charging & other drill uses.
"Put me Downstairs" Youth Parallel Bar
Request: Client had used Conductive Education bars set and shown great improvement. At-home set recommended. Location: In basement play area - down right-angle stairway
Action: Two-piece hinged joint 3/4 maple deck with divider, along with 1-1/4" rails @ 23" beginning height & perforated adjustable tube supports was assembled. Both height & width allow for client growth
Features: Very quick n easy set up. Client was testing them out within 10 minutes og getting the pieces downstairs. Can also be moved easily to backyard for summer time use.
Request: North GTA reminded camp Geneva that an oilchange/overhaul was overdue. Buggy needed wheel replacement, and arm-rests were held-on with duct tape.
Action: Repairs were made. Moon buggy was back in service at the camp in 5 days.
Slanted List Holder
Request: After increasing the stability of her hospital over-the-bed table, she wished for a new phone list holder that was slanted and not shiny.
Action: Using 1/4" almond corro-plast, matte-finish 1/8" glazing acrylic and chicago fasteners, the holder was assembled. It was mounted underneath the table with #10 pan-head screws and seems quite satisfactory for now!
Over-Hung Parallelogram Frame
Request: After building a desk for her C.N.I.B reader, client requested some way of turning pages manually, and holding them down
Action: 5/8” steel tube was bent to form a triangle, and then welded. 1” chain with a French connecting link was attached to 3/8” ceiling-mounted eye. Eye was connected to 2” X 8” spanning ceiling joints in the attic for stability.
Features: Hold-down was attached to client's new desk and her reading can continue.
Remote Holder with Magnetic Strip
Request: The client has limited use of one arm and requested that the holder be attached to the top of the bedcover for use at night. The holder had to be removable and easy to install on different materials without damaging them. It also had to endure a great deal of use and potential dropping from caregivers.
Solution: The ingenious solution is constructed of 3/4 plywood that has short ribs of oak and a loop of leather that holds the remote. The fastening solution is with magnets. Two rare earth are inset in the plywood and a sheet of steel is placed under the top bedcover. The holder can now be magnetically clamped to the bedcover. By placing the magnets only at one end of the holder it is easy to remove due to the leverage against the pull of the magnets. The holder and sheet of steel are permanently connected with a 2' cord so that they are always together.
A tip from the volunteer: when designing any type of holder for a remote, make a model of it (in this case wood) so that it does not get damaged in the process.
Car Crutch Holder
Request: The client needed an accessible place to put her crutches while driving that would not impede operation of the vehicle. When placing her crutches on the passenger seat; they could easily slide out of reaching position - this made accessing the crutches difficult once the client had reached her desitination.
Action: Our volunteer came up with a viable solution. A plate with mounted hooks was installed onto the window frame and holds the crutches in place. The crutches are easily accessible and will not move while the car is in motion. For safety reasons, the plate was cut into a shape that did not impede the drivers view of the side mirror.
Car Hand Rest
Request: The client was unable to operate the controls on his car radio due to his hand shaking. Could we help?
Action: A wooden shelf was installed so the client could rest his hand to keep it steady and enable him to operate the radio controls.
Remote Control Holder
Request: The client won a home entertainment system that included a clever Logitech Harmony remote controller that provides control of all devices and can learn the user's preferences. The remote has a touch screen and many small buttons near its edges. The client was unable to hold the controller, but he could push the buttons. He needed a holder for a controller that he could operate by himself, placed where he could get it in his wheelchair and where it would point to all the devices to be controlled. It should also be easy to remove the remote for re-charging. The top of the controller is slightly crowned.
Solution: The solution was a long, narrow, wooden box into which the controller slides. The following features are provided:
- The controller does not sit on its feet, instead it rests on one edge.
- To prevent the controller from rotating when the buttons are depressed, thin wooden rails that match the shape of the edge of the controller are screwed to the inside walls of the box- this enables them to be removed and sanded to provide a good fit.
- The top rim of the holder is a thin piece of flexible foamed vinyl (part of a cheap placemat) with a large cut-out that provides access to the buttons.
- Two small wings on the vinyl match areas on the top of the controller where there are no buttons, and ensure that the controller cannot fall out of the holder.
- The wings also flex around the crowned top surface of the controller and over the buttons: this enables the controller to be inserted in the holder without any buttons being depressed. The vinyl is very flexible around its edges, so it is clamped into position with a U-shaped piece of thin hardboard.
- A large cut-out in the back of the holder enables the controller to be easily removed.
- A groove and notch are provided so that a standard rubber band can be used to hold the controller in the box, if needed.
- The wooden box was mounted at the correct height and angle to a large heavy U-shaped bracket that was sized to fit closely around the edge of a table. The bracket is made of 3/4 MDF and 1/8 x 1 steel strip. The weight of the bracket, and the fact that it includes a large plate just under the top of the table, reduce the chance of the unit being knocked off the table accidentally.
Mouth Operating Pill Dispenser
Request: Client without the use of this hands inquired about a potential device to assist in taking medications without a help of a caregiver. Could we help?
Solution: Volunteer Bruce Thomson built a no-hand pill dispenser. The client uses his mouth to turn a disc with alloted pills. Just one of the ingenious designs by this prolific problem solver.
Request: Client was unable to get back up into his chair after falling. He suggested it might be his age and level of strength.
Solution: Starting was a recycled over-the-back bath lift, a frame of 1-1/2" X 3" steel tube was welded-up to provide lots of floor support. A new set of up/down buttons and power source were added to complete the project.
Request: Client had put on some weight and broke her lift chair. Could we help?
Solution: A recycled heavy-duty lazy-boy style chair was aquired. The weak spot, two hardwood seat rails were reinforced with slotted angle, lag bolts and carriage bolts.
Client now has a safe and comfortable seat.
Replacement Seat for Small Chair
Request: Client had lost her chair cushion on wheel-trans. Could a replacement to her small chair be made?
Action: A new cushion was made using 1/4" birch ply, vinyl, velcro, 2" foam block and vinyl edging.
Velcro keeps cushion in place.
Request: Client needed a substantial scooter basket, with two barrel cane holder and a protective cover for top-mounted controls.
Solution: Using 1" square steel mesh, a basket was formed and welded. Attached to perforated tube with hinges for movement. Two 2" ABS tubes with bottom stoppers hold canes.
Client is able to carry lots of stuff and canes are ready for use whenever she stops.
Temporary Accessible Ramp for Film Festival
Request: Abilities film festival needed an accessible ramp.
Solution: 5 steel tube frames were welded and assembled. Unistrut was used to fabricate railings in easy-to-move sections. Baltic birch plywood made up the decking and edges.
Fit through a standard door. Two person pieces for easy transport and assembly. Functional with a reasonably small footprint in the theatre.
Oxygen Tank Holders on Scooter
Request: Additional oxygen bottle holders for extra walers- specific unit for tray-front walker.
Solution: Using 2" X 2" steel reinforcing mesh, boxes 16" deep X 5" square with closed bottoms were fabricated. Extra hooks were added to special unit.
Holders are attached with ty-wraps for easy relocation, but firm attachment. Balancing point is lowered- safety factor improved greatly.
Socket "wrenches" for knob & faucet turning controls
Request: Socket 'wrenches' for turning stove knobs and bath faucets.
Solution: Handles are made from wood dowels. Sockets are made from a pill jar and a plastic beaker. The pill jar has a loop of copper wire in it to turn the knob. The beaker has cut-outs that fit over the knobs on the faucet. The dowels are fitted to the sockets with small pieces of cut sheet metal. Bend the tabs 90 degrees, wrap the strip around the dowel and clamp it with a hose clip, fasten tabs to sockets with #6-32 screws.
New Wheels & Seat for 3-Wheeled Bike
Request: Client had out-grown his special three-wheeled bike. Alterations were needed.
Solution: Using recycled front swivel wheels from a manual chair, adjustable outriggers were added for stability. Lexan was cold-formed for better footrests. A new 5/8" extended rear shaft moved the rear wheels out for a bigger footprint. A baltic birch plywood and steel angle seat was made to suit client's increased size and provide additional trunk support. Client's Dad was going to fibreglass it for added durability.
Request: Original client (#7 2003) moved into an assisted facility building, but could not utilize the buttons to operate her powered door system by herself. Her manual ability is restricted to a push-stick.
Solution: A small plastic project enclosure, a lexan-offcut, and an assortment of fasteners and clips were assembled to make the holder for the 2-button FOB. This was attached to aluminium angle which was fastened to her tray table. The two buttons were activated by pushing the coloured angle sets with her push stick.