One of our goals at Mary Cariola Children’s Center is to empower children to interact with their environment and be more independent. Most kids simply push a button to turn on their music, but this simple action can be impossible for a child with disabilities.
The Adaptive Equipment Workshop exists to create, adapt and repair equipment and devices that improve quality of life for children with disabilities. Over the last 20+ years, our three-person staff has released a steady stream of innovations and adaptations to help children tune in, turn on, stand up, and move around.
Where do ideas for these innovations come from?
Some of our favorite innovations (in no particular order)
- Workshop staff
- Anyone with ideas on how to make a child’s life better
- The prone stander. These give a child the ability to stand or let two children stand face to face with a small table top between them to play a game. They help with socialization, have a positive effect on self-image, and have many physical benefits.
- Switch covers. It might not sound like much, but these groundbreaking covers remove the temptation from children with behavioral challenges to repeatedly turn the lights on and off.
- Special switch devices. These allow a child to turn music on and off or activate the computer screen with slight finger pressure or a touch of the head.
Each year a design class from Cornell University travels to our workshop because its accomplishments best represent environmental modifications for a specific population. Some of these college students have been so moved by what they’ve seen that they’ve actually changed their career plans.
A lot of people have asked, “Why aren’t the Workshop’s designs and equipment patented or offered for sale?” Well, our philosophy is that the Adaptive Workshop is not a business. All of its designs are shared freely to benefit children with disabilities and the programs that serve them.