Accessible Toys

The toys that are currently available for loan are listed on the ATRC website. Check here often for the latest toys.

The Accessible Toys Project has a two-fold purpose:

  1. Making accessible toys available to disabled children. We estimate that there is a need for at least ten-thousand accessible toys in the State of Hawaii.
  2. Learning how to modify electronic toys to make them accessible for disabled children provides a perfect vehicle for introducing high school students to electronics and computer programming. It also introduces them to a wide range of human/computer interaction challenges.

Modifying a toy
The toys you will modify in this exercise are similar to the simple circuit you have just constructed. As noted in the following section, not all toys are this simple, however, and it is becoming increasingly complicated to modify toys to make them accessible.

Challenges
There are different types of smart toy:

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Toys are designed to be kid-proof

Donated toys may be broken in some way when you receive them

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Planning your work
It is essential that you plan your modification on paper before doing anything to the toy.

  1. Sketch out the toy showing how the various actions are triggered and how they are actually performed.
  2. Identify all switches and their particular function.
  3. Decide which actions you want make accessible to a disabled user.
  4. Figure out what modifications will be necessary to make the toy accessible
  5. Decide whether it is practical to make the necessary modifications.
  6. Decide whether you want to go any further. An inaccessible toy that still functions is more useful than one that no longer does anything due to an unsuccessful modification.
  7. If you decide to go ahead with the modification, draw out exactly what needs to be done showing all existing wires and components to which you plan to make connections and all additional wires, connectors and switches. Show the colors of all wires that you will connect to or add.
  8. Sketch the physical locations of the parts you plan on adding.
  9. Select the components that you will use to make the modification. Make sure the components will fit into the desired location when the toy is reassembled.
  10. Double-check all of the details before making any physical changes to the toy.
  11. Remove the batteries from the toy while you work on it in case an accidental short burns up part of the circuit.
  12. Make your modifications incrementally. For example, insert the connection for one switch and test its operation before going on to the next switch. It is often very difficult to find faults when you make several changes at the same time.
  13. If you make changes to the circuit, as you find and fix faults, modify your drawings to show the changes.

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