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2019 Assistive Technology Interns

ADA’s Internship Program positions participants (high school through graduate-level students from programs including ITP, occupational therapy, industrial design, and engineering) to work directly with children as well as their teams of clinicians, educators, family members, and friends, to identify, design, and build person-specific adaptations and assistive technology.

Over 8-12 weeks interns work with clinical staff in their partner schools, hospitals, senior care facilities, and other community-based organizations to fabricate items not currently available on the market that promote play, literacy, and independence for clients with disabilities.

Enjoy these intern highlights and explore how to make your own:

Ability Beat Box

Tilt Stander

Tilt Chair


The Interns

"As I prepare to move forward with my career, I have learned so much and have been able to improve my skills as a designer and fabricator in ways I couldn’t have expected."

- Darien Hester

Project Highlight: GoBabyGo Project

Ride-on cars for toddlers are fun, easier to operate, and safer than bicycles and scooters. If Joey can't press the little gas pedal, or can't sit upright on the backless driver seat when the car is moving, though, this fun experience is out of his reach. Solution: "Hack" the car's electronics so whatever movement he can do--tap a finger, press down with a chin, puff air into a straw--makes the car go, AND add a seat back, arm supports, headrest -- whatever it takes to stabilize him so he can drive the car on his own.


"During this internship, I learned everything around us has the potential to be designed in order to meet a specific user's needs." - Tova Kleiner

Project Highlight: Light Bar Mechanism

Crowded city streets and sidewalks are hazardous for a small person in a small wheelchair--when you're surrounded by taller pedestrians, people don't SEE you!For Tamara, whose bones are extremely brittle, it's doubly dangerous: a swinging purse can fracture a collarbone.Solution:Increase visibility of chair and rider with very bright lights on a pole visible above the heads of the crowd.


"I believe Adaptive Design Association is a microcosm of what can exist in the world." - Shira Mechanic

Project Highlight: Ability Beat Box

A simple concept: build hand function by practicing different types of grip, and make it appealing by adding a musical reward. Result: Improved strength and dexterity.Bonus result:Children thought to have low cognitive ability learned which gripper led to their favorite music and repeatedly activated it until the tune was finished. When the tunes were switched around, the children investigated, learned the new association, and played their tune using the new grip.


"ADA is a work of heart. We believe every individual has the right to reach his/her full potential. We provide a vehicle, through our adaptations, to help achieve his/her goals"

- Celina Zapiti

Project Highlight: Tilt chair

Sitting up seems such a simple thing! It actually involves complex interactions among muscles, tendons, nerves, the inner ear, vision, and more.  If any of those isn't working as advertised, sitting can be a challenge. One solution: An adjustable chair that, to start, tilts far back -- partly lying down.  Give the body and nervous system time to get used to it, then gradually increase the angle.


"Going forward, I hope these experiences will help me to recognize hidden structures of exclusion and create little opportunities of power for others." - Taichi Aritomo