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About Us

Over the past 20 years, we have created thousands of adaptations for children in NYC, provided hundreds of hands-on classes and internships, and enthusiastically supported people launching adaptive design centers around the world.

Our Values

“Our purpose is to instigate a revolutionary shift, one where we reject barriers and segregation and choose instead to imagine and build custom adaptations; where we share designs and stories; and where we respond to difference and disability, not with fear or neglect, but with solidarity and love.”

Alex Truesdell,

Founder

Our Mission

Adaptive Design Association advances healthcare, education, and social well-being by engaging everyone—novice to expert—in building custom adaptations, discovering untapped potential, and nurturing communities that thrive with diversity.

Our Vision

Adaptive Design Association envisions a day when adaptive design centers are operating in communities, schools, and organizations everywhere; and when all people with disabilities are fully educated, employed, and valued, in every family, society, and country.

 
 

History

In 1981, Alex Truesdell, met two people that forever inspired her to better the lives of others.

In that year, Alex Truesdell, an early childhood teacher at the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston, met Erin, an infant with severe multiple disabilities. A few months later, Alex’s aunt lost the use of her fingers and thumbs following a spinal cord injury. “I had never heard of adaptive technology, but suddenly found myself waking up in the night thinking of adaptations. I rolled towels into bolsters, carved notches in toys, and threaded straps through seat backs.” With the help of her Uncle Frank, a skilled builder, Alex learned to work with all kinds of materials, and together, they transformed ideas and frustrations into highly customized solutions for Erin and her Aunt Lynn.

Over the next few years, Alex set up a small workshop in her basement and made many more adaptations for children on her caseload. Alex was eventually hired full-time by the Perkins School to start the Assistive Device Center, a program now in its 30th year. In 1998, Alex relocated to New York City with the goal of replicating the practice and philosophy of adaptive design, and adding an internship program for women re-entering the workforce through Alternatives To Incarceration. Through a great stroke of luck, Alex met Antoinette LaSorsa and they developed a pilot called “Creative Constructions.” In 2001 they established the Adaptive Design Association as an independent nonprofit.  In 2015 The MacArthur Foundation recognized Alex's innovative approach to solving a critical global problem and awarded her the MacArthur Fellowship.

Timeline

Alex Truesdell Kellogg Fellowship

1995

Women Care DPCA launching
Alternatives To Incarceration program &
Antoinette LaSorsa joins the team

1998

Move to

Riverside Drive

2000

Tangible cue research with Ellen Trief.
Replication with Kit Frank in Ibarra, Ecuador

2010

Among the Giants documentary video by Cory Tomascoff

2009

Move to

midtown

Manhattan

2006

DIY Ability

partnership

2011

Department of Education District 75 opens 7 Adaptive Design workshops

2012

Incorporation as “Adaptive Design Association.Inc” a 501c3 not-for profit organization, John Embree, Founding Chair

2001

First support from the New York Community Trust.
Well Met Philanthropy seed funding

2002

OT/PT supervisors secured DOE funding for weekly professional development courses

2003

2004

 

PS 138 Fabricating Individual Technical Team partnership (FITT)

 

2005

Crain’s New York Business feature in What Makes New York NY

First American Printing House order for 500 sets of Tangible Symbol Cues (13,500 cues).
Ford Foundation: Made-to-Learn internship (Adults with autism)

2013

New York Times: Using Cardboard to Bring Disabled Children Out of the Exile of Wrong Furniture.
Replication at FUNDAL in Guatemala

 

2014

2015

New York Community Trust supports

Managed Care research grant.

Alex Truesdell named MacArthur Fellow

                     2019

Being Believed in Matters

Lesley University

Commencement Address

                               2017

 
 

Our Team

Executive Director

Jennifer Hercman

Fabrication Director

Antoinette LaSorsa

Fabrication Assistant

Charles Cohen

Community Partnerships Coordinator

Tamara Morgan

​Adaptive Designer & Fabricator

Adam El-Sawaf

Fabrication Assistant

​Tanya Couturier

Grant Writer

Michelle D'Mello

Occupational Therapist Consultant

​Susan Fridie

Alex Truesdell

Board Members

Carole Gordon

Chair & Interim Treasurer

Tracy Ehrlich

Marianne Petit

Vice Chair

Ronnie Eldridge

Member

Kathy Goldman

Member

Secretary

Founder

MacArthur Fellow 2015

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Financial Information

Adaptive Design Association
is a 501c3 organization

 
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@ 2019 by Adaptive Design Association
The Adaptive Design Association  is continually working to make its web content accessible as part of its online inclusion efforts. If you have difficulty accessing our website, please contact us at info@adaptivedesign.org