Toy Hacking for Accessibility

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  • Wed. May. 8, 2013 6:00 - 9:00PM

  • A workshop on toy hacking for children with disabilities. 


     Make battery operated devices more accessible, learn to solder 
    & modify simple electronics at the same time.

    Wednesday, May 8th 6:00PM - 9:00PM

    Adaptive Design Association
    313 W. 36th Street, NY NY
    (btwn 8th and 9th ave) 


    Eventbrite - Toy Hacking for Accessibility


    A dozen people sitting around tables adapting toys


    In this workshop attendees will learn and be able to,

    • Describe the components required for a switch to work?
    • List three areas on the body that an individual with a disability can use to access an ability switch, without or with the appropriate mounting tools.
    • Describe two or more characteristics on a toy (or another battery operated device) that allow for switch accessibility.
    • Independently solder the toy or device and add a switch jack for accessibility for an individual with a disability


    Who should attend?

    • Occupational, music and recreational therapists
    • Parents, relatives and family friends
    • Makers and tinkerers
    • Children under 18 are welcome but must be accompanied by an adult
    • Beginners, new to soldering and Experts!


    Past Events

    We have held toy tinkering events in the past, Hacking for the Holidays was a great success and dozens of toys were switch adapted by people who were just learning the basics of soldering and hacking. 

    Visit our Facebook Photo Album to see photos from the events in 2012,


    What is Switch Accessibility?

    For many kids with physical disabilities playing with off-the-shelf toys is not possible, depending on their unique abilities a toy might not be accessible. 

    However, if a child can move their head, feet, arm, mouth or any other part of their body it is possible to use a switch to play with the toy. 

    Adding switch jacks to a toy will not affect the original quality of use, the existing buttons will operate as normal and kids who use accessibility switches will now be able to operate the toy.

    Learn how to solder and hack

    Bring a simple toy (from online or toy store) and modify them for switch accessibility. We will discuss the skills you need to switch adapt toys and other devices in the future for personal use, work and fun. 

    • Learn how to open and identify the components inside a toy or basic electronic device.
    • Understand the wiring of a toy from battery to switches to the activation of the device.
    • Learn to solder and add an accessibility switch jack to an off-the-shelf toy. And put the toy back together for normal use or with a switch.
    two women sitting at a table with toys taken apart and they are soldering in switch accessibility.
    Ideal Toys for Hacking
    Please bring a toy to modify, we will not be providing them. Select a toy that is appropriate for your child. Below is a list of characteristics for selecting a toy for easy modification.
    • MUST run on batteries, no AC / wall plug toys.
    • Toys with simple operation, a touch, squeeze, pinch, pull. For example, a teddy bear that sings when its foot or hand is squeezed, or its belly is poked.
    • Inexpensive toys are actually easier to open and adapt.
    • Remote control toys, electronic musical instruments and electronic whoopee cushions are great!
    Things to bring to the workshop.
    • Battery operated toy.
    • Batteries for your toy.
    • Camera to document your awesome hacking
    We will supply you with all the soldering irons, screwdrivers, switch jacks for accessibility switches that you need.
    Recommendations - great toys that are fun and easy to hack

    Color Bug 

    Remote Control Fart Machine RC Whoopee Cushion 

    Spin Art Machine Rose Art by Mega Brands 

    Motorized Bubble Machine - Dora the Explorer 


    Kid Galaxy My 1st RC GoGo Fire Truck

    Eventbrite - Toy Hacking for Accessibility


    Download Workshop Brochure (PDF)


    AOTA logo

    AOTA Information

    • Classification Code: This continuing education activity meets the Occupational Therapy Process: Outcomes classification code for AOTA
    • Continuing Education Units : 3 Contact Hours/ .3 CEUs
    • The assignment of AOTA CEUs does not imply endorsement of specific course content, products, or clinical procedures by AOTA.