The DesignAbility Program has created hundreds of custom solutions for children and adults. Below are some examples of these unique children's projects.
Request: Children in wheelchair had difficulty participating in a therapeutic gardening program.
Action: A table that adjusts in height and has inserted planters was developed.
Features: These planters can be removed to be placed in the ground. Replacing the inserts allows more children to partipate.
Dad's Accessible Crib
Dad, who is in a wheelchair and works from home, will be the primary care-giver for his new daughter.
Solution: Incorporating an IKEA Crib, an accessible crib was built following along the original design yet modified with a full access sliding gate, steel reinforced frame and a 32 inch clearance.
Full accessibility with solid-latching solved the problem.
Safe Bed - Mesh & Pink
Request: A young client needed a safe bed. Mesh sides would work well and we would like to have padded head and foot boards with lockable casters.
Solution: The North GTA Chapter created a bed with an up and down slide design with mesh and used Baltic birch with a steel deck frame at a practical height for the client. Foam tiles were added and covered with vinyl for the padding. Caster were attached to hardwood blocks and bolted to the bed legs. (Since her favorite colour is pink, pinks sheets and the head board was painted a pretty pink.)
Mariposa Belle 2
Request: Lake Geneva Camp needed an into-the-lake device to assist in getting campers into the water. Could we help?
Solution: Solid and perforated unistrut was welded to provide a complete frame. Composite decking was re-cut for cross-members and attached with carriage bolts through the perforations. Swing up arm rests were fabricated from perforated tube and steel tube. Turf tires, fixed and swivel were filled with windshield antifreeze to eliminate floating. An easy to remove, easy to resize seatbelt was added. Instructions and recall information was added. Mariposa Belle #1 lasted 6 years...maybe this one will be around longer!
Power Hoyer Lift
Request: Camp Awakening Girl's cabin needed a power hoyer lift. Could we help?
Solution: A recycled power lift with un-replaceable power pack, and failed charger was acquired. A Canadian Tire power pack was re-wired and coupled to two switch boxes to provide the power for both the vertical lift and the leg spreading action. Plugged-in each night for long lasting use. Easy to remove for winter storage.
Adjustable Corner Chair
Request: Young client needed an adjustable corner chair to promote coordination and sitting ability. Also adjustable leg extension would promote muscle tone and improve his chances of walking.
Solution: Using a previous design, a set was fabricated from mostly baltic birch. A laminate top and PVC edge completed the activity table. An adjustable belt helps keep the table and seat together. Replaceable foam tiles can be added / taken away with growing requirements. Physiotherapist, mom and grand-dad were thrilled!
Safe Bed 1
Request: Very active 2 1/2 year old needed a safe bed. Could we help?
Solution: Volunteer Joe Toby had extensive experience with beds and was able to take on the project. Using an existing design; a tall version of the safe bed was designed and built. Using 48" high gates and mesh covered lattice; this reduced climbing and / or getting out of the bed when not safe. This should keep the little darling safe at night...
Request: Client needs a rocking chair for her daughter who has Cerebral Palsy and has outgrown her current rocking chair. She loves the rocking feature and needs the chair primarily for activities and eating. Could we deisgn and build something suitable for the client that she could continue to grow with?
Solution: Using baltic birch and an existing rocking chair design; our volunteer was able to customize the chair to suit the clients requirements and accomodate as the client grows. The chair is easy to clean and is easily portable as the materials used are somewhat lightweight. Client is happy and enjoying activities in her new chair.
Request: Client requested a play-station for her young daughter who has limited mobility due to Cerebral Palsy. She would like her daughter to be able to play more comfortably, develop improved motor skills and interact with her siblings during play time - hopefully with adjustability for future growth.
Solution: The structure is designed to bolt down to the family's outdoor patio. The need for the structure to be rated for exterior use complicated the design but we were able to mee the client's needs. All of the finish paints and glues are exterior grade to ensure sustainability of the play station.
The "Right" view photo above gives a good overview of the play station. You can see the play clock at the top, a large, open play-through area and some little cubbies and blackboard. Four handles were mounted (two on the tabletop and two on the side panels). The full base was painted using exterior porch paint which will also ensure sustainability.
Request: We previously built a cuddle tray (Nov 2002) for a clients 5-month old son. Now he has grown, and she inquired if we could fabricate a new device/assembly to allow the mother to continue to transport her son on her power chair, in comfort.
Solution: Using a 2" wide polyester belt with 2 fabricated metal slide-clips; a cross-the-mom's lap belt was stitched together. A new longer set of seat straps were assembled and fastened to the rear of her chair. These join to a two-part crotch/waist belt-&-stiched assembly.
Client is able to fit the metal side-clips into the original cuddle tray brackets that were installed on the arm rest supports. Longer belts, and new belt assembly store in chair pockets. New longer seat straps will accomodate growth, while crotch belt allows for more comfortable postioning; especially with bulky winter outerwear. Cuddle Tray can still be used.
Request: Client is a special-needs single mother who required a tot bed for her 2 year old son.
Solution: A steel-within-wood bed was designed and built. PVC lattice removable side panels allow for crib to toddler to twin size foam mattress conversion. Extra low elevation helps child climb unaided.
Swing-out gates provide easy full-length access. Large handled slide bolts provide assured locking. Steel superstructure allows the mattress to tilt up to 75 degrees to provide one-sided bed making from her wheelchair.
Request: Special needs infant needed an apartment-sized slide for indoor activity. A similar solution at Bloorview was the base for this design.
Solution: ½” baltic birch plywood was used for the side-walls. Treads were ¾” maple plywood. 1” PVC tubing covers ¾ " steel tubes for rail supports. Stairs & platform were carpeted.
Slide is removable for storage and the platform base acts as a TOY-BOX!
Toddlers Bed 1
Request: Client requested a safe & secure bed for her toddler.
Solution: Using poplar, baltic birch plywood, bead-board panelling & steel tube & angle; a rigid single bed was fabricated. PVC lattice on steel tube was used for the gates and fixed back side. A standard single size foam mattress completed the unit.
Heavy-duty design will provide years of use. Swing-open front allows for easy sheet changes etc. Bed breaks down into 6 modules for easy re-location.
Climbing Structure (Builds Strength & Confidence)
Request: A 9-year old boy with spina bifida is unable to use his legs and the mother requested something to aide with exercise and mobility.
Solution: A structure was designed and built so that the boy could climb using his arms. A mock up was built to see how steep of an angle he could manage and to check the spacing between the knee blocks. The knee blocks assist him in moving forward by stopping him from backsliding. When he wants to go down he slides down the middle. This solution provides more play space in a confined area, it helps strengthen the boys arms and the climbing gives him a sense of accomplishment . It is painted in his favourite hockey teams colours, the Ottawa Senators.
At Home Balancing Bars
Request: The client was a participant in the Conductive Education Program at March of Dimes and could see the improvement from using balancing bars while at the program. Could we help and possibly build him a balancing bar set for at home use?
Solution: Using wood and metal; the volunteer was able to build a portable "At Home Balancing Bar" set for the client. As the photos illustrate; the client is happy and has been using the set to build strength and confidence.
Raised Crib / Sliding Gate
Request: Client requested on accessible crib.
Solution: Using a standard crib, baltic birch plywood and steel tubing, the crib was elevated. The moving side was redesigned to move laterally, like a sliding door. A large handle for easy gripping was added and is part of the two-movement latch.
Little Child Walker
Toddlers Bed 2
Request: Young, dependant client needed comfortable seating for activities and eating with a lot of room to grow.
Solution: Baltic birch was used to make a suitable unit. Foam tiles added hip and back support. Trunk supports were adjustable brackets and vinyl-covered foam pads. Easy to remove tray uses swing-away lever clamps for infinite positioning. Width and height adjustment in 1 inch increments. Casters were added for easy handling.
Backyard Swing for Wheelchair
Request: Parents of a client wanted a back-yard swing for a manual wheelchair.
Solution: A princess auto scooter ramp and platform was purchased and attached to heavy-duty ropes, with guides. Accessory hold-down chains were added, along with two cast swing blocks attached to the 4X4 crossbeam with 5/16" lag bolts.
Client is able to enjoy swinging motion, while his friends and sister push, and share swings next to him.
Change Table (Accessible from Wheelchair) 1
Request: Client will need help changing her daughter from her wheelchair.
Solution: Using the North G.T.A. convertible design, baltic birch plywood was cut and assembled. Unistrut and steel tube adjustable legs finished the job.
Request: Client needed help handling her infant from her wheelchair.
Solution: Using a previous design (June 2003) a cuddle tray was built to attach easily to her power chair. Double seat-belts were custom-made to provide secure positioning and safe riding for both Mom and infant. Client and infant can be really close now.
Trike Seat Support & Basket
Client needed an adult 3-wheeler plus trunk support and seat belt.
Solution: A recycled 3-wheeler was acquired. A trunk support attachment was fabricated. Foot guides were added and a 3-point seat belt completed the upgrades.
Accessible Change Table 2
Request: Dad-to-be requested an accessible change table for his expecting wife.
Solution: Using the design of 2006, the 4th copy of an adjustable change table was made from steel tube, strut and baltic birch plywood.
This will convert to a desk when no longer needed / as child grows.
Request: Hyper-active client needs safe, secure and sturdy chair for meals and other activities.
Solution: A steel tube lower frame was welded-up. Side panels and seat were made from baltic birch. They featured adjustments for height and depth of seat. A laminate-top activity table was added with hitch-pin positioning , and a lexan edge to catch stuff. A three-point seat-belt with rear-latching completes the project.
Attached front panel eliminates front tipping. Wide footprint of steel frame reduces rocking.
Accessible Crib with Built In Storage Drawers
Request: A young lady needed a hoyer-accessible bed with up-and-down sides for her to grow up with. Drawers would be a big plus.
Solution: Using the 'princess' design of 2010, a full twin-size bed was built. A steel tube sectional frame and two travelling sides were welded. Lattice, finger-joint trim and bedboard were added. The sides travel up and down in concealed tracks.
Client has a strong and safe bed for her future. Large drawers provide ample storage.
Red Child's Swing
Request: To add to the indoor exercise activity, the parents also asked for a swing.
Solution: A water-pile horseshoe was assembled and inserted into a welded tube base. The entire assembly was covered with 1/1/2" white PVC tube and fittings for an extra clean appearance and to match the railings on the side. Red puck-board was used for the seat with a 'T' front handle/restraint that slide easily up and down the plated chains.
Seat and Table
Safe Bed 2
Request: A very active young client needed a safe bed.
Solution: Standard north G.T.A. steel tube, fingerboard and lattice design.
Request: Little mother needed a second accessible crib.
Solution: A returned wheelchair-accessible crib was used. The end panels were replaced with shorter full-plate sections of baltic birch. The slider end-piece was updated and a new latch was provided.
Children's Crib 2
Request: We had made a bed for this client in November 2007. Family has moved 3 times since then. The last time they moved in a hurry (Fall 2014) - no bed. Client is back to sleeping in a crib and her muscles are regressing because of the nightly confinement.
Solution: Using the new angle and baltic birch end panel design, a new bed was fabricated and delivered within two weeks. It was even personalized.
Safety Latch for Child's Bed/Crib
Safe bed was delivered in November 2013. Mom is extremely happy but a new care-giver forgot one of the door latches one evening. Nothing happened but could I help?
Solution: We added a PVC bumper strip, adjusted the slider holder assembly and added a safety pin made out of cheese grater and a biker handlebar grip. Bright orange gives very visible assurance that the gates are properly latched.
Client of short stature would like to be able to see out of the car windows, when travelling in the back seat with her parents.
Solution: A booster seat of steel tube and baltic birch was fabricated. Car seat belts hold the frame in position, and formed upside-down PVC "U" hold top against the back of the back seat. Both the seat & back cushions slide into tube receivers. Hitch pins hold the former, and threaded knobs hold the ladder in place. A 3-point auxiliary seat belt finishes the project.
Young, dependant client needed comfortable seating for activities and eating with lots of room to grow.
Solution: Baltic birch was use dto make a suitable unit. Foam tiles added hip & back support. Trunk supports were adjustable brackets & vinyl-covered foam pads. Easy-to-remove tray uses swing-away lever clamps for inifite positioning. Width and height adjustment in 1" increments. Casters were added for easy handling around the house.
Manual Mover / Power Lift Hoyer for Summer Camp
Summer camp for special needs children needed a lift for bed-to-chair transfers and really easy to use.
Solution: A very substantial manual hoyer with a non-functioning hydraulic lift cylinder was acquired. A recycled 24V lift system was mounted on a slotted channel for simple set up, and lots of travel. A dual battery control box was attacehd, with a plug-n-play battery charging unit. Travel is controlled by a simple up/down selector switch.
Bed is now being used by a taller foster child. He enjoys rattling the lexan viewing window. Could something be done about the noise?
New occupant of this safe bed (2013) is very active and lexan panel has become a real noise-maker.
Solution: Gate was removed, and returned while client was on respite visit to Holland-Bloorview Hospital. Acrylic caulking was applied to the steel tube frame, and screws and HD washers were spaced on 3" centres all around the frame.
Request: A bariatric young lady was unable to reach the dining table in her group home. Tray table (easy on /off assembly) for power wheelchair could be a solution.
Solution: Using the perf. Tubes design (camera stand 2014 & tray table 2015) a centre-mount post assembly was welded. The 1/2" baltic birch tray with burgundy laminate was attached along with two adjustable Rest-on-the-Arms supoprts. Client can now join in for meals in the dining room; in comfort.
Baby Seat for Rocking Child to Sleep
Parents were at their wits-end over the nighttime sleep habits of their infant. Rocking and cuddling seemed to help but parents were both extremely short of sleep. Client needs device to rock daughter to sleep.
Solution: A car seat was mounted on a custom glider assembly. This included a variable-speed drive motor and ball-crank assembly to allow for slow-motion gliding to mimic rocking once the child had fallen asleep. The infant took possession of the seat immediately and the motion was extending the sleep times of all involved.
Posture Assist for Chair
Young client needed help with posture in an adjustable chair. Maybe a plinth would work?
Solution: Easier route to follow. 5-point seat belt assemby that was imple to adjust and mounts to the side and back of the chair. Smiles all around!
Safety Gates for Existing Crib
Request: Bed (May 2013) was to be used by another foster child in the home. The new sleeper was more capable; could the front gates be raised? Bed is now being used by a taller foster child. Can the side gates be made higher since this client is able to stand?
Solution: 6" additions of steel tube were welded onto each gate to match the headboards. These extenions were filled with matching lattice. This was completed in a turn-around of 7 hours. The latching system still functioned smoothly.
Adjustable Slant Boards
An adjustable slant board would be very helpful to add to children's standing frame & table units. Particularly when the client might have attention problems. Client suggested slant board for standing frame.
Solution: Using a Lee Valley adjustable bracket, and baltic birch plywood; a unit was put together, both adjustable & fold-down. Vibrant paint added to the attention-grabber idea. Just what the Physiotherapist ordered!