Posts Tagged With: Technology

AT Dad’s Rules for an AT Life #2

Every Activity Can Be Adapted Using AT

This  rule may need a bit of defending because I am sure there will be some people that will start citing examples of activities they believe cannot be adapted.

First, let me make sure I am clear about what I mean by “activity”.  I do not mean a specific level of proficiency.  For example, someone might try to tell me that I cannot adapt playing Major League Baseball.  That is a level of proficiency.  However, the activity of playing baseball can (and has) been adapted.  There may be some purists out there that will watch a Challenger League Baseball game and claim it isn’t baseball.  Well, it’s been adapted.  Some of those adaptations are equipment, some are rule changes, some are fan perceptions.  If you get the chance to talk to a Challenger League player try telling them they are not really playing baseball. Continue reading

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AT Dad’s Rules for an AT Life #1

Every High Tech AT Solution Needs At Least One Low or No Tech Alternative

When relying on a high-tech AT solution it is important to realize that technology can fail.  High tech solutions have lots of technology and, therefore, have more chance of failure.  To make sure that failing AT does not limit ability it is important to have alternative solutions readily available that are either no or low tech.

At our house we have AT solutions of all tech levels, including some really high-tech solutions.  In general, high-tech AT solutions involve sophisticated electronics; usually microcontrollers and sometimes these solutions incorporate computers.  Sophisticated electronics, microcontrollers, and computers are amazing and wonderful tools for everyone.  I have been fascinated with them since I was a boy – which helps to explain my educational career as an Electrical Engineer and my vocational career as a Software Engineer.  Within the world of Assistive Technology they most definitely have their place. Continue reading

Categories: High Tech, Rules for an AT Life | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Inspiration–Automatic Dog Ball Launcher

As you may have read in a recent post, I am exploring ideas to help J participate more fully in Challenger Baseball games by modifying a switch adapted pitching machine to help J throw the ball while fielding.  That project of mine received some attention from another parent who was looking for a way to help their child play fetch with their service dog.  Their child happens to have Cerebral Palsy, happens to use a wheelchair, and happens to need a little help throwing the ball.  A very similar situation to my desire to help J participate in the fielding half of the inning during baseball games. Continue reading

Categories: Casual Hacker, Cerebral Palsy, DIY, Inspiration, Medium Tech | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

AT Dad’s Rules for an AT Life

When J was younger we used to read the Olivia series of books.  AT Mom and I loved the precocious nature and imagination that Ian Falconer gave his character Olivia.  When Nick Jr added an animated version of the stories to their lineup it was a natural for making our short list of TV shows we watched with J.  One feature that was added to the animated show that was not in the books is “Olivia’s Rules of Life” where Olivia imparts priceless pieces of information like:

  • “If you really, really, really want something it helps to use a triple please.”
  • “School glue has many uses.”
  • “Whatever the question costumes are always a good answer.”

They are often humorous and sometimes very practical (especially for someone 5-3/4 years old).  Well, I thought I might start something new here at AT Dad’s Place – “AT Dad’s Rules for an AT Life”.  I am hoping it will be an occasional repeating feature that will share tidbits of practical (and sometimes humorous) knowledge for others on their own journey through the unique valley of Assistive Technology.

If you have any advice that you would like to add to the rules of life list let me know.  I will also be adding a page here to track all of the rules as they accumulate.

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A Light Bulb Goes On Then Off Then On …

I thought for my first AT project post I would start with something easy, and something that many people may not consider Assistive Technology, since it is a Low Tech solution.  For this one I have to give credit to my Mother-In-Law, thanks Nana!

The Background

We are constantly looking for ways that J can help around the house.  J’s disability includes physical challenges that impact both J’s gross and fine motor control.  This often leads to a number of explorations into the world of AT around our house.  This particular exploration focused on trying to find a routine task that J could do with minimal assistance.  In a flash of brilliance my Mother-In-Law decided to look at how J could help with turning on and off the lights.  (Again, way to go Nana!)

The Problem

The problem is that our house has the traditional light switches.  J’s motor challenges made these difficult to use.  These switches are too small for J to grab, and require an amount of force to flip that would result in J’s hand slipping off the switch instead of throwing the switch.

The Solution

I cannot speak for the order of events that lead to the solution.  My wife and Mother-In-Law called me into the living room to show me something.  What they showed me was a simple solution that we have been using ever since.

Nana had repurposed the tubing that came with J’s suction machine.  After cleaning it (of course), she cut the two blue ends off the tube.  She cut one right at the end of the blue tip and the second she cut about 3/4 to 1 inch up the clear tubing (so it was a bit longer).  Here is a picture of the suction tubing still in the package with the bottle and filter.

Suction bottle, filter, elbow, and tubing package.  This is the tubing we used.  Note the blue tips on either end of the tubing.

Suction bottle, filter, elbow, and tubing package.  This is the tubing we used.  Note the blue tips on either end of the tubing.


Nana then took these blue tips and pushed them right over the light switches.  The were tight enough that they stayed on.  They extended the light switch to a length that J could hit and operate the lights.  J could run a hand up or down the wall until it contacted the new and improved light switch, then continue to sweep that hand to turn the light on or off.

Here is a set of pictures of one of the light switches.  This happens to be the shorter original adaptation that Nana made.  We only adapted one of these switches since the second is for decorative (versus functional) lighting.  It also gives you an idea of the before at the same time.

One of the light switches we adapted.  The blue tip is also a soft rubber that makes it gentler on “big swipes”.

One of the light switches we adapted.  The blue tip is also a soft rubber that makes it gentler on “big swipes”.


A second view of the same light switch.  Notice just how much extra length that is added to the switch with this adaptation.

A second view of the same light switch.  Notice just how much extra length that is added to the switch with this adaptation.


The Results

J now participates in our regular routines and is responsible for turning on and off our adapted lights.  Daddy holds J up next to the wall and J very intentionally and carefully reaches out a hand, slowly grabs the adaptation, and flips the switch.  Daddy then struggles with all his strength to keep a hold of J as a happy dance with huge laughter follows.

Here are a couple of action shots of J turning off the lights before heading to bed.

J using a soft hand and the wall to “spider walk” a hand to the light switch.

J using a soft hand and the wall to “spider walk” a hand to the light switch.


Lights out and its time to go to bed!

Lights out and its time to go to bed!


This is a quick and easy (assuming you have the suction tubing) adaptation that makes light switches much more accessible.  If you do not have suction tubing I would look at trying things like pen caps, etc..

Categories: DIY, Low Tech, Newbie | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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