Accessing Potential Through Assistive Technology
Gifting Guide Day 25: Switch Adapted Toys

Playing is an essential part of child growth and development. Learning to activate a toy teaches a child cause/effect and choice making…two essential skills for communication. For children with disabilities who cannot activate the buttons and controls on toys through typical means, we recommend a switch adapted toy. When a toy is switch adapted that means that the internal switches are modified with an external connection to an ability button. Ability buttons can come in a variety of sizes, colors, and means of activation to suit the child’s needs. The buttons can be positioned such that the child can activate it with a hand, foot, elbow, head, etc….whatever the child can use to best target!

Check out the resources below to learn more about switch adapted toys!

variety of switch adapted toys

There are several assistive technology vendors that sell toys that are already modified with a switch jack for an ability button. Vendors like Enabling Devices. Adaptive Tech Solutions, or Ablenet Inc are reliable sources for toys that have already been modified.

Switch adapted toys can be costly, and families with disabled children are already overwhelmed with expenses. Guardians may only be able to purchase one or two switch adapted toys for the child which is why it makes a great gift!

a variety of ability buttons from Ablenet

Don’t forget the ability buttons! In order to utilize a switch adapted toy you also need the ability buttons (external switches). These can also be costly depending on the type but the good news is they are interchangeable with the toy. Depending on the child they may need 2 to 4 switches to start with. Consult with local AT specialists like a speech language pathologist, occupational or physical therapist, or a rehab engineer to determine the right type of button for the child. Vendors like Enabling Devices or Ablenet Inc are reliable sources for ability buttons though there are many options online.

Teddy bear being switch modified

Unfortunately since the vendors who sell pre modified toys are incurring the cost of the toy, the cost of supplies, and charging for the labor and redistribution…the cost of a toy that is modified can be 3-4 times the cost of the original toy.

Thankfully, with less than $10 and some basic electrical and soldering skills you can learn to modify your own toys and save a lot of cash!

Do your research though! Make sure you understand what types of toys can be modified easily and how to complete the process before jumping in. There is no shortage of instruction guides online and soon we’ll have more posted here on! Until then take a look at AT Makers website as well as an older Adapting Toys blog post from that provides step by step instructions on switch adapting a toy.

Gifting Guide Day 22: Adapted Sailing Products

It wouldn’t be a gift-giving season without a request for sailing gear or boat parts. There is no such thing as a day wasted on the water, and there is nothing like sailing in a stiff breeze to clear one’s mind and calm one’s soul.

Man sailing a sip and puff controlled sailboat with crew.

Any boat can be adapted, sailed, and raced by people with various disabilities. I remember watching Nick Scandone win the gold medal for the USA with his teammate Maureen McKinnon-Tucker sailing a SCUD-18 in the 2008 Paralympic Games. Nick, who had ALS, was sailing as a Classification 1, the most severe mobility limitation. He drove the boat, and had the highest tech setup I’ve ever seen on an adapted sailboat. Incidentally, Nick is also the only Paralympic sailor to win the US Sailing’s Yachtsman of the Year.

Visit for interviews with adapted sailors.

Type 1 Personal Floatation Device with neck support designed to turn a person face up in the water.

Safety First

One of the essential pieces of sailing gear is an excellent Personal Floatation Device (PFD) or life jacket. Type 1 PFDs provide the most floatation, and most will turn an unconscious person face-up out of the water. A Type 1 PFD is what we would recommend for someone with limited motor function, poor coordination, or for sailing in extreme conditions. Many mainstream retailers sell this type of device, such as West Marine:–type-i-comfort-deluxe-life-jacket–15911373?recordNum=3 . There are also some specialty companies, such as Lifejackets Adapted (, that sell PFDs for people with specific needs.

Wetsuit that has been adapted for a person with a left left amputation.

What to Wear

Some sailors like to wear wetsuits depending on where and what type of boat they sail. Wetsuits help insulate and retain heat when sailing in wet boats (racing dighys) in cold waters, such as when “frostbite” sailing. A wetsuit needs to be tight and fit properly to work, which can be difficult for some people with disabilities. There are specialty companies that can modify wetsuits to fit based on their needs, such as Terrapin Wetsuits ( out of Texas. Check them out if you enjoy sailing in cold weather (or diving or surfing) and need help getting a wetsuit that fits.

Power linear actuator attached to a modified tiller, which is a stick that attached to the boat's rudder and controls its direction.

High Tech Driving

This article explains how the tiller, which is what controls the rudder and thus the direction of a sailboat, can be adapted for control with a joystick or sip-n-puff system. It is essentially a weatherproof linear actuator and electronics connected to a modified tiller.

Sip-n-Puff /Joystick Tiller Steering:

Example of a solid captains seat with lateral side supports that could be added to a boat with seat belt for a person with poor leg and trunk support.

Comfortable and Secure Seating

Another idea for people with limited leg and trunk support is to install fixed seats with seat belts or straps into the cockpit of a keel boat. A non-folding high back helm seat, such as: , could be a good choice.

Fixed captain’s seat that could be used to adapt a sailboat:

Hold Fast!

Like grab bars in a bathroom, sail boats have hand holds and rails all over the place to aid sailors in getting around the boat in rough seas or when the boat is healing over. Adding a handrail in strategic locations can  be very helpful in crossing the boat during a tack. Other tricks, like adding extra handles or wearing gloves with extra grip will aid people with poor grip strength in getting to the high side.

Stability Bar:

Common back saver shovel handle, designed to attach to shovels and other garden tools, can be added to a sailboat to create additional hand holds.

Adapted shovel handle or extension handle can be attached to rails, lifeline stanchions, or to the deck itself to provide extra purchase or something to hold onto with a closed fist. Sand Scoop Shovel Handle: or Just be sure to pick non-corrosive materials, and swap out any steel nuts and bolts for stainless steel.

Inexpensive polyester garden gloves dipped in rubber coating can provide a great deal of grip for sailors who need help holding on.

Not only can a good set of sailing gloves protect your hands from rope burn, but they can siginfcantly improve your grip. I’ve gone through a lot of gloves in my day. I’d say Zhik has the best full finger grip gloves out there. Extra grippy sailing gloves:

I also know people who pick up in expensive garden gloves that are dipped in a rubberized coating. They are thicker, very grippy, and a 3 pack can be purchased for under $10. Just make sure you get rid of them before they wear through.

Gifting Guide Day 21: Adapted Clothing

As a child, do you remember waking up on Christmas morning, running downstairs, and opening all your presents, hoping they were stuffed with new shirts, socks, and brand new undies! Yeah, me neither. But as an adult now, I appreciate some new socks that don’t have holes in them and a nice oxford shirt or work pants that are stylish and fit well. For people with disabilities, finding clothing that is easy to don if you have difficulty with your hands and is stylish AND looks properly fit, especially when using a wheelchair, can be difficult. There are a variety of specialty clothing companies that make clothing that is easy to put on, fasten, and some even are fit, especially for those who use wheelchairs.

Eric LeGrand, former Rutgers football player, with clothing designer Mindy Scheier.

For a short TED talk on how clothing empowers people with disabilities, visit:

Please note: We do not endorse any of these companies. There are many companies that provide accessible clothing. This is just a short list.

Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive:

Image of people with disabilities wearing fashion from Tommy Hilfiger

Tommy Hilfiger manufactures stylish clothing with easy closure options, fit for prosthetics, fit for a seated position, sensory-friendly fabrics, and suitable for people with various disabilities. On their website they state: “These are clothes that look good, feel good, and with the help of innovative design twists, deliver more effortless dressing for people with disabilities.”
Contact information is available on website at:


Silverts has an online clothing catalog that allows you to shop by need. They have clothing separated into categories for people such as those with amputations, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, ALS, and dementia. They have even listed clothing for people who are dressed by a care giver.
Phone: 1-800-387-7088

Zappos Adaptive:

Zappos Adapted website, with a woman in a manual wheel chair wearing easy to put on boots.

Many people are familiar with the large online shoe retailer Zappos. What most people don’t know is that Zappos Adaptive was created in 2017 based on customer feedback to sell shoes for people with special needs. They have a collection of specialised products, including easy on/off shoes, shoes that are AFO friendly, and diabetic shoes, as well as undergarments and seated clothing.
Call Zappos 1-800-927-7671
Text Zappos (833) 927-7898

Billy Footwear:

Screenshot of Billy Footwear website, showing their special flip top zipper shoes.

Billy Footwear focuses on universally designed shoes. One of the founders has a spinal cord injury, and decided to redesign shoes to meet his needs. Their footwear incorporates zippers that go along the side of the shoe all the way to the toe. This allows the top of the top of the shoe to open up completely.
Contact information can be found at:

Ministry of Supply:

Screenshot from website showing a professionally dressed woman wearing the pants while using a wheelchair.

Ministry of Supply is another mainstream online retailer that has a selection of professional adapted clothing for adults. They offer “Kinetic Adaptive Pants” for men and women that are designed and tested to fit properly and be comfortable for people who use wheelchairs. The fabric is designed to stretch as needed while maintaining a sharp and professional look. The company will also reimburse the cost of hemming pants with up to $25 of store credit.

Gifting Guide Day 20: Workshop DIY Gifts

Holiday Gifting Guide: DIY Assistive Technology Gifts

Nothing beats a holiday gift that someone has taken the time to make just for you! We have a whole lot of creative problem solvers and makers around our office and workshop, and many of us turn to the Instructables website for ideas on how to help people with disabilities.

Two rehabilitation engineers making a custom chair by grinding parts to shape in the rehabilitation engineering workshop.

Here is a sample of some projects that  you could make (or ask Santa to make) as assistive technology.

Motorized Light Bulb Changer:

DIY motorized light bulb changer from the Instructables website.

This project was developed by a gentleman who needed a way to change lightbulbs from a 2 story high chandelier, but someone in a wheelchair or of short stature could benefit from such a device. It contains a small motor, some other light electrical parts, some 3D printed parts, and a painter’s pole.

PVC Therapy Trike:

Volunteer build PVC tricycle being ridden by a child with special needs.

Instructions to build this child’s adapted tricycle were posted by volunteers for the Utah Assistive Technology Program. The adapted trike can be built for around $400 in materials, and is designed for children form ages 2 to 5 years, weighing under 50 pounds. Parts can be purchased from your local hardware store, or a kit can be purchased from .

Child’s Coloring Table:

DIY paper roll coloring table from the Instructables website.

I mentioned in a previous post how beneficial a table that holds rolled paper can be for children and adults with disabilities who which to draw, color, or paint. This project shows how one maker converted an old side table into an inexpensive coloring table.

WheeStroll- Wheelchair Stroller Attachment:

Man with DIY wheelchair mounted baby carrier, make from electrical conduit and an infant car seat.

This is a really neat project where a maker designed a system to attach an infant car seat to a wheelchair. The design combines off the shelf parts with some 3D printed brackets, and in beautiful in it’s simplicity.

Wheelchair Accessible Planter:

Home build wheelchair accessible garden planter

These plans show how to build a planter that was used at a community garden for wheelchair accessibility. I like that it is deeper than most other designs I have seen, but still provide for knee space due to the way the bottom slopes. It is a nice design.

Doorbell Room Light:

Woman who is deaf with a doorbell light flasher while her son is outside trying to get her attention.

This project was developed by a young man whose parents could not hear the door bell ring. The standard wireless door bell flasher was not working, so he decided to make something that would flash the room lights. This is a great project for someone who wants to learn more about electronics, programming, and soldering.

Guitar Tuner for People who are Blind:

Electronic guitar tuner that has been modified for people who are blind.

This is another great electronics project where a commercially available electronic guitar tuner has been modified with an Arduino microcontroller to change the visual output on the tuner to be played as tones through an earpiece.

Keep on Making!

Rehabilitation engineer Michael Papp displaying a custom made wood turning gouge with extra long handle.

I’ve always enjoyed making things in the workshop, and I have found common products can be easily tweaked to improve their form and fit for specific individuals. For example, I can make tool handles on chisels, screw drivers, and hammers thicker for some one with dexterity issues or arthritis. I can make wood turning gouges with longer handles for someone who might need to use a lathe while sitting in a wheelchair. Sometimes making your own assistive devices is the only way to meet a specific person’s need.

I could go on and on about all the cool projects on the Instructables website. It has something for every type of maker, whether you cook, sew, enjoy woodworking, gardening, electronics, programming, and especially for teachers.

Gifting Guide Day 19: Move it, move it…around the house.

Laundry, ugh….bad enough as it is it can be worse if you have a physical impairment that makes carrying laundry from one place to another a real booger. And what about if ANYthing is difficult to carry? What if you rely on a mobility device or perhaps, you’re unstable when you walk? How do you manage to get things from one place to the other? Let’s look at some devices that could help!

Rolling grocery cart

Grocery Cart

  • If someone finds it difficult to get their groceries from the car to the kitchen, a collapsible grocery cart is a great gift idea! When they are collapsible they can be transported in the vehicle until time to use.
  • They can also be used during shopping trips to the mall and often include a removable shopping bag to make it easier to load into the vehicle.
  • Some varieties even have stair climbing wheels that make it easier to go up curbs or stairs with the cart.
  • The pictured version also converts to a hand truck to make it easier to transport packages when the grocery bag isn’t useful.

Find many varieties at Amazon or your favorite super store.

Kitchen cart

Kitchen Cart

  • Often, when I’m working with someone who uses a mobility device to walk or is unstable while walking I’ll recommend a rolling kitchen cart to help that person move items from one location to another.
  • It’s a great tool for someone who needs to take dishes/meals from the kitchen counter to the table.
  • It can also be used around the house to move other hard to carry items.
  • Search for kitchen cart or beverage cart to find a variety that fits the user’s needs. Try to look for one with a sturdy frame, isn’t too large for the space or too large to manage, has decent size wheels so they don’t catch on carpet or rugs, and has an easy to hold handle for stability.

Find many varieties at Amazon or your favorite super store.

rolling laundry sorter

Rolling Laundry bins or sorter

  • My favorite assistive technology…almost. It’s something I use weekly… a rolling laundry bin. Why carry laundry baskets when you can roll them?
  • I love the laundry sorters on wheels so that the sorting work is already done for you.
  • The laundry sorter pictured has distinctive bins for dark, light, and color laundry so it makes it easier to sort and keep up with which bin is which.
  • I recommend searching for a rolling laundry bin or sorter and looking for one with a sturdy frame, easy to roll wheels, and a manageable size for the space and user.

Find many varieties at Amazon or your favorite super store.

utility cart

Utility Cart

  • A folding utility cart has been a back and energy saver for me both in my personal and work life.
  • They make it easier when you have a lot of things to load and unload from the vehicle.
  • They make it easier to transport numerous, heavy, or large items.
  • I’ve used it to help me and others move out of homes.
  • I gotta admit, my doggies also love riding in it when we go to food truck festivals at the park!
  • Look for a cloth sided one to reduce weight of the cart. My preference is also the carts with rubber wheels instead of the bulky plastic ones. Be sure to check out the specs to make sure you’re not getting one that’s too heavy for the user and get one that’s reviewed to be easy to fold up for storage.

Find many varieties at Amazon or your favorite super store.

Do you have a favorite cart that you’d like to share about? Comment below!

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This list is provided for informational purposes only as APTAT does not endorse specific products or brands. When purchasing be sure to thoroughly research the product features to ensure it will meet your individual needs.

Gifting Guide Day 18: Mobile Device Accessories

Many people with and without disabilities rely on their mobility devices nearly 24/7. For some it can be life line, for many with disabilities it’s an outlet to the world. That’s why it’s important to keep the device powered and within reach. Let’s look at a few ideas of how we can achieve that!

power bank with solar panel

Power Bank

  • A power bank is an external charging device that can charge or power a mobile device when a wall outlet isn’t available. This is a great gift for someone who needs access to their device for multiple hours a day and/or isn’t able to be near a wall outlet or physically can’t plug their phone in to charge.
  • These little devices can range in features from high to low charge capacity, charging time, solar power, or input and output ports.
  • PRO TIP: Be sure you find a power bank that works with your device type and that will recharge your device multiple times before it needs to be recharged.

Find several varieties at Amazon or Best Buy.

Before and after image of a cord protector. this cord protector is a pink owl

Extra Cords and Charging Blocks

  • Keep spare cords and charging blocks in your travel bag, on your mobility device, or in your car. You never know when you might need one or when yours will go out. Extra cords and charging blocks are a great gift for someone who uses their devices regularly. Just be sure to note what type of cord is compatible with their device! Also consider what length cord they may need
  • I don’t recommend picking up cords from the local dollar store or at the counter of a gas station. These might be suitable short term but they won’t last long…
  • PRO TIP: If you’re gifting cords to someone who is susceptible to damaging their cords look for cords with a protective cover or purchase a cord protector. An example is pictured. Not only can cord protectors help to make sure the joint of the cable doesn’t get bent and frayed, a protector like the one pictured can provide better grip to plugging in the charger.

Find several varieties at Amazon or Best Buy.

collage of the Mount It mount on a table and attached to a wheelchair

Phone Mount

  • Mounting the phone or tablet can make a world of difference in accessing one’s device. Especially with all the new features of mouse emulation, head tracking, switch access, etc it’s important to make sure the device is mounted so the user can adequately see the screen.
  • Mounting the device to a wheelchair can also help make sure the device doesn’t fall and get damaged while the user is moving about.
  • Pictured is a Mount-It tablet wheelchair mount that I’ve recommended before. It’s a decent less expensive option for mounting to a round pole or table. There are more substantial versions that have a higher price tag…I like those too. There are also cheaper versions of device mounts that you can even get from places like Five Below. Just know that you’re pretty much getting what you paid for! Make sure you test the mount in the environment to make sure it won’t fail and potentially ruin the user’s device.
  • I also want to note that their are floor stand versions of mounts, there are device holders that can strap to a person like what runners use, and there are even phone mounts that are commonly used by bicyclist. Pick a version that works best for the user and how they need to utilize their device.

Find several varieties at Amazon or Best Buy.

Adonit stylus targeting a cell phone

Adonit Dash Stylus

  • I’ve trialed a lot of styluses and by far the Adonit Dash Stylus has been one of my favorites. The Adonit line of styluses creates it’s own electrical charge so it doesn’t require that the stylus fits into the users hand a certain way to create current. Because of that it also has a fine tip point, whereas many styluses have to have the large rubber tip so that the device will recognize it.
  • The Dash stylus has a magnetic usb charger so it’s easy to pop on and off to charge and it doesn’t require bluetooth connection…making it even more user friendly.

Find out more about the Adonit styluses.

Do you have a favorite mobile device accessory that you’d like to share about? Comment below!

Did you enjoy this training module? Please complete our participant survey to help us with our federal reporting.

Follow us on social media to keep up with the latest on the Gifting Guide!

This list is provided for informational purposes only as APTAT does not endorse specific products or brands. When purchasing be sure to thoroughly research the product features to ensure it will meet your individual needs.

Gifting Guide Day 16: Adapted Art Supplies
Lucy the dachshund/shepherd mix dog finishing off her latest painting.

I don’t know about your house, but around here, everyone from Grandma to the dog likes to be creative, and so art supplies are a common gift during the holiday season. Here are some art ideas for children and adults with disabilities.

Do A Dot Art! Markers

Two Children Playing with Do A Dot Art Markers

These bright and extra thick washable markers are very easy to grip. The extra thick sponge tip never dries out and makes perfect dots every time. The ink dries quickly and are gluten and latex-free.

These markers are designed to help children learn to develop eye-hand coordination and color recognition.

The Pencil Grip Kwik Stix Paint Pens

Child drawing a snowman with Kwick Stix paint sticks

Kwick Stix are tempera paint sticks that take the mess out of painting while allowing children to explore their artistic side. The paint is semisolid and twists  out of the pen, similar to a glue stick. The paint is washable, non-toxic, and assorted sets are available online.

Kid Made Modern Gem Jackpot Crayon Set

Grinning child coloring with yellow gem shaped crayon.

These large, gem shaped crayons are are easy to grip, and can be used to draw lines or fill in large areas of color. They work no matter how they are being held, so there is no wrong way to use them.

Art Desks with integrated Paper Roll

Two children drawing on paper unrolled on child sized art table.

Aside from gripping your markers, crayons, or paints, holding the paper in place can also be challenging for children. Art paper can be taped down to aid in holding it in place. A desk with an integrated paper roll holder makes it much easier for kids to get creating. While any old desk can easily be modified with a paper roll holder and platen, there are a variety of desks for children and adults that integrate this feature. Large sheets of paper provide more space to get creative, and children who have better gross motor skills have plenty of space to work.

Paper Roll Holder:

Paper Roll Art Table:

Paper Roll Desk:

Loop Scissors

Person gripping a pair of yellow loop safety sissors.

Called squeezy scissors by some, these ergonomic scissors help those with poor fine motor function or problems such as arthritis by automatically opening back up after each cut. Available with safety tips for kids, there are also sharper versions for adults for sewing, crafting, and general household use. There are also sewing scissors and garden shears available with a self opening spring.

Squeezy scissors for children:

Loop scissors for adults:

No Spill Paint Cups

Green no spill paint cup with green paint brush and green cap

No spill paint cups have a cap that prevents spills and messes. The funnel-shaped cap aids in getting the brush into the paint, and work well with tempura and other non-toxic paints. An additional cap can fit over the funnel top so that the paint can be easily reused.

Gifting Guide Day 15: Charlie Mae’s First Day
Front cover of Charlie Mae's First Day by Hanna Wilson

An extraordinary picture book for preschoolers that encourages kindness and acceptance of children with different abilities! Like the endearing main character of this book, some children may appear to be much different and end up having more in common with their peers than anticipated. Inspired by real life Charlie Mae, this story was initially written to aid as an introduction to her kindergarten class. It’s transformation comes with a deep desire to serve as a tool to not only spread awareness at a pivotal age, but present a feeling of belongingness to kids and families like Charlie’s.

Charlie May’s first day is available at, along with the story of the real Charlie Mae, activity sheets for preschoolers, and and informational video explaining epilepsy to preschoolers. There is also additional information available on their Facebook page at:

Charlie Mae’s first day was written by Hannah Wilson, a resident of Chilton County. Wilson wrote the book from the perspective of her daughter. She had decided to write the book in the summer of 2000 as a resource that could be used by other special needs families. Wilson said, “My dream for it is for it to make its way to all the families like ours, I feel like it would just mean a lot to them.” Visit for more information on the inspiration behind the book.

Gifting Guide Day 7: Power the lights on and off without making a move

With today’s technology, someone can be sitting and never have to lift a finger to turn the lights on (or off).

Imagine getting into bed and realizing the kitchen lights are still on. For many, this is frustrating to walk back to the kitchen. For others, they have to get back into their wheelchair to return to the kitchen to flip the switch.

There are a number of safety features that may be automated, such as if a camera or motion sensor senses movement after a certain time, lights come on. When not home, lights can be set to to randomly go on and off. The lights can also be set to automatically come on at sunset or at a certain preferred time.

Philips Home Bridge with four bulbs in starter kit

This Hue Starter Pack includes the Hue bridge and bulbs to get started.

  • The Hue bridge plugs directly into router and utilizes the built in Zigbee network.
  • The Hue bridge allows up to 50 bulbs to be controlled via voice or smart device. Timers, routines, and more are able to be set on each of these bulbs.
  •  With an Amazon Alexa or Google Home device, you can use simple voice commands such as, ‘Alexa, dim the lights’, or,’ ‘Hey Google, turn on the table lamp’, to control your lights. Compatible devices include: Amazon Echo Dot 3rd Generation or newer, Amazon Echo Plus, Amazon Echo Show 5 or newer, Google Home Mini and Google Home Hub.
  • Up to 10 Hue bulbs may be controlled using Bluetooth without using the bridge, but there are a number of limitations. More info on this can be found here at Hue’s website. I highly recommend using the Hue Bridge.
  • The bulbs are guaranteed to last 3 years, so there is much less replacement of bulbs!
  • The bulbs and bridge are compatible with the Hue app that may be installed on any iOS or Android device. This app allows users to customize lighting for their needs and to control from outside of the home if needed.
  • There are a vast number of types of Hue bulbs available to fit the needs of your household.
  • How to set up the system

Wyze bulbs are a budget friendly option

Sengled bulbs have more compatibility and still a budget option

  • Sengled bulbs work with Apple HomeKit, Alexa, and Google Home.
  • These bulbs have an energy consumption tracking feature built into their app
  • These are another budget friendly option, at around $12 per bulb.
  • No hub or bridge is required, and setup is very quick. They connect directly to your home network.
  • These bulbs are missing most of the advanced features, but through the Alexa or Google Home, some may be able to be utilized.
  • These bulbs are more readily available than the Wyze bulbs.
  • These bulbs require the use of the Sengled Home app.
  • How to setup the system

Pro tip: Pick one and stick with it. It’s easier to have one system than bouncing back and forth.

Comment below if you have some other smart bulbs you have found to work great in your home OR if you have any great tips on how to better use them with voice activation.


This list is provided for informational purposes only as APTAT does not endorse specific products or brands. When purchasing be sure to thoroughly research the product features to ensure it will meet your individual needs.

Gifting Guide Day 6: Tools to Make Notetaking Easier

Anyone would benefit from these notetaking tools, especially students!

These notetaking tools do more than just pen and paper or an audio recorder. They connect written notes with audio recording in a whole new way. There are other tools besides the ones I have included that are great to help with notetaking, and your choice will likely vary based on which device you use.

Livescribe Symphony

The Livescribe Symphony smart pen utilizes the Livescribe+ app on your smartphone, computer, or tablet to record the audio from what the teacher is saying while also saving your handwritten notes. The student can tap the written notes on the device to play back what was being said later when studying. This device retails around $100.

Notability app on iPad

The Notability app is available on the iPad for notetaking. This app allows users to record audio while simultaneously typing, writing, including images, and more. When later reviewing notes, they are able to tap any part of their notes to play back the audio. This app can be downloaded on the iPad for around $10.

Glean Note Taking

Glean software records audio notes so users can capture and learn from information more effectively. One aspect that is great about this software is that it will work on a number of devices, from Chromebooks to iPads to Android devices. Download a free thirty day trial here to help you decide if this is a good fit. This software is purchased as a subscription for around $12 per month.

Comment below if you have any other notetakers that are helpful in the classroom! I am always looking for new ideas to help students.

Gifting Guide Day 4: Banking on Gift Cards

Having a disability can be expensive!

There are products and services that people with disabilities either spend a lot of money on throughout the year OR wish they could. Gift cards can be a welcome gift to help all year!

unrecognizable black doctor on bust stop in city


  • There are a variety of reasons someone may not be able to drive their own vehicle. Transportation services can eat up a good chunk of someone’s budget. A person or family might be grateful to have a transportation card, rideshare gift card/credit, or extra money to rent an accessible vehicle.
  • If you’re not able to spend a lot yourself, maybe consider offering them a ride when possible.

woman carrying paper bag

Grocery or Food Delivery

  • Chronic pain or fatigue, lack of transportation, vision difficulties, mobility impairments, anxiety, memory difficulty, schedules full of medical appointments, and many other limitations can make it difficult to manage grocery shopping or going out to dinner. Grocery and food delivery is a service that boomed in 2020 but delivery fees can really add up. Having a gift card to take advantage of the convenience of food and grocery delivery would be a luxury to some!

person holding kindle e book reader

E-Books or Audiobooks

  • Reading is a hobby for many but some limitations can make it difficult to manipulate or read a hard copy book. And buying numerous books a year can also be costly. E-books or audiobooks can accommodate many disabilities and having the extra money to spend on one’s hobby is rather satisfying!

couple love sitting evening

Streaming Services

  • Being able to watch new movies or your favorite TV shows in the comfort of your own home can be a fantastic accommodation! But streaming service fees can add up. It could reduce someone’s stress to know they have an annual subscription to their favorite streaming service!

girl sitting on smiling man s shoulder


  • The cost of medical supplies, copays, caregivers, etc can leave many families without the extra money to enjoy extracurricular activities. Find out if they might be interested in an activity like going to the zoo, the movies, a cooking class, a theme park, or another local favorite and offer to purchase tickets or a gift card to their preferred attraction.
  • Don’t forget they may need special transportation arrangements!

girl sitting on smiling man s shoulder


  • Paying for special services might be a luxury to some and a necessity for others. If they utilize or would like to utilize lawn care, maid, respite, caregiver, culinary, or other home maintenance services (like weatherproofing a ramp!) having a gift card or the extra money to pay for one of these services might be a great benefit.

Do you have a favorite place to spend giftcards that you’d like to share? Comment below!

Did you enjoy this training module? Please complete our participant survey to help us with our federal reporting.

Follow us on social media to keep up with the latest on the Gifting Guide!

This list is provided for informational purposes only as APTAT does not endorse specific products or brands. When purchasing be sure to thoroughly research the product features to ensure it will meet your individual needs.

Gifting Guide Day 3: Tools To Make DIY Easier

Your favorite DIYer needs these tools!

DIY can be fun but super tedious if you’re battling certain limitations. The “tools” for a successful project are endless so here are just a few options that come to mind.

Drill Guide

  • A drill guide can help if it’s difficult to keep the drill upright or in place.

Adaptive Scissors

  • Easy grip scissors can be safer and easier to manipulate with hand weakness.
  • PRO TIP: Be sure you’re using the right scissors for the job!

Electric Screwdriver

  • One of my favorite tools!
  • An electric screwdriver is perfect for those tasks where a drill has a bit too much power but a using a manual screwdriver might be tedious, fatiguing, or painful.
  • PRO TIP: Don’t forget the bits!

Measuring Devices

  • An easy see tape measure, talking tape measure, or laser measure can help where taking measurements might be physically, cognitively, or visually difficult to achieve.
  • PRO TIP: Pick a laser measure that connects to an app to log the measurements or aid in drawing room layouts!

Magnifying Light

  • Lighting is an important part of any workshop. If it’s difficult to see your project it can be unsafe and discouraging. Select a magnifying lamp for tasks that require fine motor or delicate attention.
  • An articulating arm on a clamp can make it easy to position the lamp anywhere in your workshop.

Do you have a favorite workshop product that you’d like to share about? Comment below!

Did you enjoy this training module? Please complete our participant survey to help us with our federal reporting.

Follow us on social media to keep up with the latest on the Gifting Guide!

This list is provided for informational purposes only as APTAT does not endorse specific products or brands. When purchasing be sure to thoroughly research the product features to ensure it will meet your individual needs.

Top iPad Applications for Autism
There are many applications available that assist with the daily challenges that may arise from an autism diagnosis. These range from communication apps to behavior management apps, and more!
For more information on autism and to see what resources are available in the Tennessee valley, visit:
Model Me Going Places 2 –…

New Accessibility Features in iOS 11

iOS 11 is the latest version of Apple’s iOS. It is currently supported on the following devices:

  • iPhone 5S, 6, 6 Plus, 6S and 6S Plus, SE, 7 and 7 Plus, 8 and 8 Plus, and the new iPhone X
  • iPad Air, Air 2, and 5th-gen iPad
  • iPad Mini 2, 3, and 4
  • iPad Pro
  • 6th-gen iPod Touch
  1. Smart invert
    1. Where color inversion inverts everything on the screen, smart invert inverts only the areas where it may be deemed necessary for someone who requires it. Otherwise, images stay true, and other insignificant elements of the user interface remain unchanged.
    2. To enable: launch settings from your home screen, tap general, tap accessibility, tap display accommodations, tap invert colors, tap the switch next to smart invert.
  2. Auto brightness
    1. When enabled, your screen will brighten or dim, depending on the lighting conditions around you. If you disable it, it may affect your overall battery life, but won’t mess with your eyes if lighting conditions change suddenly.
  3. Improved text detection
    1. Now when viewing an image with text in it, iOS 11 will automatically scan the image for text and read it aloud when VoiceOver is enabled.
  4. Improved photo descriptions
    1. iOS 11 will automatically scan an image to figure out what it contains and then read a description aloud to you, without needing to be prompted.
  5. Large text enhancements
    1. For those with the largest text selection chosen, system-wide enhancements have been made.
  6. Type to Siri
    1. Users with voice control issues can now interact with Siri by text, just by holding down the home button to activate it.
  7. Drag and Drop using VoiceOver
    1. Tap and hold an item and VoiceOver will read it aloud and tell you once you have drug it over to another app.
Applications and Resources for Community Living

The following list details applications for iOS and Android devices that are meant to enhance community living, whether it be by communication aids, social networks, or other resources useful for those that may be benefited by the use of assistive technology in the community.

Next Door – free, private social network for you, your neighbors and your community. It’s the easiest way to connect and talk with your neighbors about the things that matter in your neighborhood.

Every Block – “use EveryBlock Map to see where news, neighborhood talk, crime, business, 311 service requests or other activities are taking place…and join in.”

Patch – “If you’re looking for “everything local,” Patch is the app for you. Local schools? Check. Breaking news? Check. Homes for sale? We’ve got those, too.”

Freecycle – makes it easy for people to give away their unwanted but reusable items to people in their local community who can use them. People can post items to give away or request items from others in their local community.

Olio – connect with your neighbours and local shops so that surplus food, and other household items can be shared, not thrown away. Everything on OLIO is available for free or for donation.

IOBY – ioby mobilizes neighbors who have good ideas to become powerful citizen leaders who plan, fund and make positive change in their own neighborhoods.

Proloquo2Go – Proloquo2Go is an AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) app used by people with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. It is available in English, Spanish, French, and Dutch for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch and Apple Watch.

Good Karma Applications – “exceptional mobile apps for people living exceptional lives”

Cough Drop – helps those with complex communication needs make their voices heard.


  • dial 2-1-1 on your phone and be connected with an information and referral specialist that will help you find the services you need.
  • Website

Phoenix – local job placements for those with disabilities seeking work

For other assistive technology needs at home and your community, please visit to view our AT loan library, which is completely free for residents of Alabama.

See our YouTube video on the subject with even more details here:

Boeing Webinars

The following webinars are sponsored by Boeing. New webinars will be added as they are created. Check back for new videos! 

The Benefits and Challenges of Technology 

This webinar will talk about appropriate use of technology for children and how to balance out the benefits and challenges of technology in young children’s lives. 

Adapting Toys


Adapting toys can seem overwhelming, but anyone can adapt a toy to be switch accessible! This lesson will teach you how to solder, how to make switch ports, and how to adapt a toy. If you have any questions about this module or would like to have in-person training for this module please email 


This module has been broken down into four sections:

  1. Introduction to Adapting Toys
  2. How to Solder
  3. How to Make Switch Ports
  4. How to Adapt a Toy

If you are interested in learning more about the switches used to control your toy or interested in creating your own switch please visit our All About Switches Module

If you already have a switch port and are comfortable with soldering please skip ahead to part 4. If this is your first time soldering please watch the videos and practice before moving on to step 4! Like any skill, soldering takes practice, patience, and focus so give yourself a few practice runs!

Tools you will need to adapt a switch based toy:

  • Soldering Iron
  • Soldering Iron Stand
  • Wire Strippers
  • Scissors
  • Flux
  • Solder
  • Double Stranded Wire
  • 3.5MM Female Stereo Jack
  • Paper Towel
  • Switch Based Toy (one that has a “Press Here” button and is battery operated works best)
  • Wire Cutters
  • Sewing materials (optional)


Please watch the following video on how to solder.

*The fumes from the solder and the flux are not harmful, please wear protective eyewear*


*If you decided you buy your own switch port (watch intro video for more information on buying switch ports) then you can move on to Part Four. *

Please watch the following video on how to create your own switch port

Part Four: Adapting your Toy

If this is your first time adapting a toy please make sure to watch the other videos before continuing on with the last step!

*Please wear protective eyewear *

I will be adapting a My Pal Scout stuffed animal. You can purchase the dolls at Walmart or online

Respite Helping Those Who Care

This module is for those looking to receive Respite. To receive Respite follow the list below:

  • Complete and submit the Pre-Test 
    • follow the link to the pre-test and then hit “submit” when you have completed it
  • Watch the Helping Those Who Care video and participate in the brainstorm activities 
  • Complete and submit the Post- Test 
    • follow the link to the post-test and then hit “submit” when you have completed it
  • Email that you have completed the steps listed above
    • She will review the tests and video to deem you eligible 

Once you have completed these steps you can continue onto your next step to receive your Respite!



Please click here for the Pre-Test

Once you have submitted your response return to this page


Helping Those Who Care Video

Employment & AT Resources

This module will provide information on how assistive technology can empower individuals with disabilities who may be searching for employment or trying to maintain employment. Please click the following links for more information!

Campaign for Disability Employment 

Vocational Rehabilitation Services include:

Employment Resources in Alabama

ADAP (Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program)

National Resources/Organizations

Job Accommodation Network (JAN)

This website provides complete information about ADA law related to employment, accommodations for specific disabilities, and other resources for both employees and employers.

Video Modeling

Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program

This resource is only available to employees of Department of Defense and other partnering Federal Agencies.

Curriculum Resources

AT Laws

These lessons will provide information about the laws that are in place to help ensure Assistive Technology tools and services are available to individuals with disabilities.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Public Law 110-325

Access to employment, public services, public accommodations, and telecommunication

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

P.L. 94-142

Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for all children; EI (0-3 years old) & School-Age (3-21); IEP

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act

29 U.S.C. § 794d

Federal agencies must make electronic & information technology accessible including electronic texts, websites, and videos


Assistive Technology Act of 1998

Public Law 105-394 [29 USC 2201]

Each state receives federal funding in order to promote awareness and access to AT

Chafee Amendment

Copyright Law Amendment, 1996: PL 104-197

How individuals with print disabilities can access printed materials

Additional Resources
AT Assessment

This course provides information related to various options for AT assessments. Please click the links below for more information. 

Assessing Student’s Needs for Assistive Technology (ASNAT)
This is a free resource is available through Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative (WATI). The assessment is very thorough with key areas to consider for assistive technology.

SETT Framework
The SETT Framework is a four part model intended to promote collaborative decision-making in all phases of assistive technology service design and delivery from consideration through implementation and evaluation of effectiveness. SETT is an acronym for Student, Environments, Tasks, and Tools.


Protocol for Accommodations in Reading
This free diagnostic tool can help determine if a student struggling with reading may benefit from having text read aloud or use an electronic text reader.

TAM Publications
The Technology and Media Division (TAM) of the Council for Exceptional Children offers various products that can be purchased to assist in AT decision making including Assistive Technology Fans and Quick Wheel.

ATEval2Go iPad App

ATEval2Go constructs a cumulative, editable report which can be exported, e-mailed or printed. Saving of data within the app allows a user to manage, maintain, and draw upon past reports as necessary.

ATEval2Go incorporates frequently-used assistive technology evaluation tools such as Joy Zabala’s SETT Framework, the Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative Assessment, the Council for Exceptional Children’s Assistive Technology Consideration Wheel, the Virginia Assistive Technology Resource Guide, as well as author Christopher Bugaj’s over 12 years of experience conducting evaluations.

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