Instructables members with disabilities? Solutions or needs?

Hoping to trigger some interesting discussions... I wonder if those of you with disabilities (physical or otherwise!) would be willing or interested in posting examples of techniques or equipment you use to actually build your projects. A lot of shop equipment is decidedly non-accessible, so how do you get done what you want to do? More broadly, what sorts of custom equipment, tools, procedures, etc., have you come up with to make your lives easier? Even simple things can be very interesting, and/or spark ideas for other people. If there are things you "wish you had" but don't, what are they? How do you think they'd work, for you or for someone else? Disclaimer -- I do not have a disability myself. My wife does, and I've had a lot of fun working with her on small personal projects over the past decade. I have also been interested in access issues, both technical design and the civil rights/IL perspective, since before I met her. I will try very hard to use appropriate, inclusive language in these discussions; please don't take offense if I fall short, but do remind me!

Picture of Instructables members with disabilities?  Solutions or needs?
sort by: active | newest | oldest
1-10 of 43Next »
love4pds6 years ago
Sorry so long but wanted to explain in detail. I am severely disabled and have not figured out how to get around it. But my problem is, if I could just sever my spine from the thoracic part , I would be more free than I am now, but docs wont do it and husband wont either and haven't figured out how myself and too chicken So I am only able to sit for more than about 1/2 an hour in a day before I am in such severe nerve pain (sitting in boiling oil) that sleeping and laying flat the rest of the day or 3 is my ONLY way of recovering. So the nerve pain is my waist down to my feet and things like hemorrhoid pillows cause pain because anything I touch from my waist down causes more pain, laying flat hurts too, but it doesn't seem to cause more pain, it is the pain from what I have been doing. The only way I can escape the pain is floating in water so that nothing below my waist touches anything. So my thought is making a chair filled with water like a cheap water-bed but to sit in where even my legs wouldn't touch a wall, in my mind it would have to be there to hold the water, and soft wall doesn't matter (BTW) it does the same damage. But the plastic that would hold the water would have to be loose because if it was tight I would be sitting on plastic not floating in the water. I just cant think of a good way to do it and am not really capable of doing it very well, so I thought I would post to see if anyone would help me make one or come up with something better?. I have a chair that has a very stable wood frame but the problem is trying to make it myself and also the front piece of the frame would touch my legs the way I picture being able to do it and I cant touch the bottom. I would have to have the top to where I am floating not sitting on the plastic covering the top (so it would not be able to be stretched over the water) and I also wouldn't be able to hit the bottom which isn't too bad that I only weight right now 92 lbs(trying to gain but not working). So my thought is to make it feel like I am floating on the water and not touching anything and not fighting gravity. I had to find my own DX which took all my insurance, retirement savings, ability to work, and family. I am also loosing everything such as my home so I cant afford to pay much for it. I have been fighting for 6 years with doctors to get a DX and SSD for medicare to get any medical help. So I cant even get any medical help to try and fight this disease if it is even fightable? But 6 years of not sitting makes me want to give up more than anything. I still fight and did make a dress and entered it into a contest. It took me months to make. So obviously started before I found this site. And slept 2 days after I finished it.....It would be awesome for the idea to be mobile as a wheelchair but I can walk a limited amount and it would be nicer sitting it is the biggy! Would love to have all your smart brains helping me think of something? I miss sitting more than walking and would give up walking if I could sit and use a wheel chair,sound weird I am sure but I would have more freedom than I have now, nothing much you can do flat in bed all the time. I have for 6 years been having to lay flat on my back (not because of career choice) 80-100% of everyday, imagine how boring that is!!! I am a very hyper person who loves making things and can make all kinds of things but cant make them very fast or at all because of you HAVE to be able to sit!! I was DX with FM and CFS and all kind of stuff but low and behold I read alot and my DX is Lyme disease un-DX for 35 years or so.

To those with FM:
Anyone thrown in the FM box please go to and read the info there. I recommend a couple of the papers to read first one is a long one but best: Advanced Topics in Lyme Disease (2000 Burrascano Treatment Guidelines) which includes a great symptoms list but it is very long and the other is "The Lyme Disease Network Medical / Scientific Literature Database" which is search-able, to find medical papers about specific subjects including a symptoms lists and shorter and maybe more understandable papers. The library also explains the politics of it all which is a fight with the CDC which is also included in that area so you can see the differences. It is a mess, a lot of reading, and will not be fixed quickly if at all, but there are things you can do to get better, if the docs havent dont too much damage to you before you find out. Number one thing is getting DX (diagnosed) by a LLMD (Lyme literate doctor) which you can find one close to you on that site also, VERY IMPORTANT. Most docs know nothing of Lyme even in the NE because they are plugged into the politics and lazy and dont want to deal with appts that take more than 5 minutes. All about money!!! I know I have it, most of my family that summered or lived at my aunts lake home have now be DX with it, the neighbors and those in graduating class of my cousin's and they only had one stop light!!! They all now live in different states and were DX by diff docs and labs, because of me bugging them to get tested. Anytime FM comes up I ask people to go to this site. Hope this help you folks in the FM bucket.

And now back to me, please help I need this, I am giving up every other day now and one day soon it will be over for me, unless I have something to do! 6 years is too long to be alone 24/7 and in this pain with no money or medical support and not able to sit. My hope is very low and I am at the point of giving up the hope I have left!! I try to keep hope with small projects but they are so painful to do I am just barely wanting to even try anymore!
Thanks for this site its amazing, I wish I found it when I could make all this cool stuff because this is what I am good at, but cant do anymore. I may be making things worse mentally for me coming here to look at all the cool ideas, not sure, I want to play!!!! But can just cry about being grounded all the time. You are welcome to email me with questions or help ideas or offers and go from there?
Thanks in advance,
After reading this I had an idea for you to think about. I don't know if it would work but if enough people read the idea and expand on it I'm sure something could be worked out.

My idea is to take a wheelchair and create some type of frame above where you "sit" and have a sling around your chest that holds you off the seat. Your feet could be used on the foot pads like your standing but in the sitting position. I hope that made sense.

Your wanting to use water I feel would make a design too impractial to get in and out of, not to mention moving around in it. With 1 gallon of water wieghing about 8lbs you would be looking at 40lbs of wieght with just 5 gals, even if that was enough water to float in. You will still sink to the bottom of the water unless you have the salt content of the Dead Sea to make your body more boyant.
Dear RedneckEngineer,
LOL, no not real salty, but I am only 92 lbs if that helps. Would salt in the water help make me float higher in the water? I am not sure about a sling thing because the problem is my ligaments, tendons and soft tissue are deteriorating and the pressure I would put on them would make things worse. Holding my weight could potentially cause more damage to new places I think. My spinal ligaments are turning to "Mush" (His words to, not formally in records) but that is what the doc found after one of my surgeries, ligament laxity in the longitudinal ligament of my spine. Hanging I think may just pull on the spinal ligaments and make them elongate and could make them not snap back even more, like a rubber band that is overused, which is what causes pain now. Because they get in the way of the spinal cord and nerves. I can't even use a cane because it has started new pain above the waist in the thoracic part of my spine, so I had to stop using it, but that pain isnt a big problem to the touch yet, but it is bad not to be able to use it because I fall a lot too. I am grateful you are trying to come up with something and grateful for you reading my very long post. I can not do anything with my feet like you have in your post because the nerve pain and the pressure on my feet would push on my waist and spine which is what I am trying to avoid. I will try the sling part though and post the outcome because it may help, testing it may lead to something? THANK YOU SO MUCH for caring!!!
The reason I said salt water like the Dead Sea is I've seen a documentary once on the Dead Sea and people were floating in it almost like they had floaty devices under them. And the narrator was talking about how the salt dense water made people float much greater than regular water. My wife is disabled with l-4 l-5 fusion and constant pain with musle and soft tissue cramping along with a host of other issues so I can relate to the problems your having.

As for a sling. What I had invisioned was some type of straping that goes around the chest area and then maybe around the hips/upper thigh. This could be rigged so the pressure would be distributed on these areas not on the joint/ligaments. Not sure if this would really work without testing but maybe if you researched some mountian climbing websites and talk to someone more experanced with them it could work. Hell you could create a new type of system and become rich. Goodluck and if you need more ideas just PM me. I'm good at thinking outside the box most times.
Gorfram7 years ago
I have Fibromayalgia so severe that I am unable to work and am on Social Security Disabilty.

The thing I really need is an easily programmable ReminderBot: somethiing that would make some sort of noise to say "Okay, you've been standing up washing dishes (or some other standing activitiy) for 20 minutes now. If you don't take a break, your feet & lower back are going to make you suffer for it later." or "Okay, that's two hours you've been working at (some seated activity). Take a break now or you'll wear yourself out."

The device would need to be pretty darned idiot-proof: I've set my kitchen timer but forgotten to hit its "Start" button more times than I can count. Same thing with the microwave. And the oven. And the dryer...

Individual devices for "you've opened and closed the front door but haven't locked it" and "you've left the faucet dripping" could save me risk and expense.

The timer function on my cell phone (which, being circa 2006, was made out of stone knives and bearskins) is embedded about four wildly non-intuitive menus deep; and if there's a calendar/scheduler function to it, I haven't found it yet.

(But one thing I really, really need is an "you've forgotten and left your cell phone somewhere and the battery's run down and it's shut itself off" alarm.)

I do have an iMac with iCal, which might have a sufficiently user-friendly reminder function to help with some of this - maybe I should see if I can hunt that up.
(One big problem with Fibro is that the analysis-&-problem solving part of my brain shuts down when I'm tired; and I have to try to prioritize my use of it. Managing finances and trying to prioritze and accomplish ADLs use up the vast majority of my "brainpower budget" on most days. (yeah, I blow some of that budget here on 'Ibles, but 'Ibles is also actually good for me in re the "use it or lose it" problem).)

I saw a DIY reminder bot for multiple medication times here somewhere but cant find it now but maybe it could be modified for your purposes? I downloaded a program called speaking clock for my computer that you can set multiple reminder and I don't know how well that would work because you would have to set it up the same for each day or set it up all the time and could be more trouble than a simple egg timer. Good Luck, I have to think about everything I do also so I know how you feel. I get myself into trouble all the time. Have you seen the letter written called 'The Spoon Theory' it is amazing for explaining what it is like for us to healthy people in our lives. It's worth the read.
Bunches o Hugs!
If done with an electronic timer of one sort or another, you could place the "set switch" under a plastic mat in front of the sink; a weight sensor maybe; and have the circuit set up to start when you "arrive" and stand on the could have it "reset" once you leave the mat.

There'd be a lot of ways to do this from using all kinds of sensors, timers (decade, etc), and electronic switches; or it may be easily controlled with a uC
mom2maddy7 years ago
I'm desperately searching for instructions on building a pediatric bath chair similar to this: . I am not about to pay approx. $500 for something made out of PVC! Any ideas on how to build something similar?
Could you cover a video gaming chair from a thrift store with a few plastic bags and use it? Not sure is it would float though, just seen them, not actually even touched one to know how it is made.
My 2 cents,
I do not think PVC pipe would be strong enough for that. It is most likely enameled or coated steel/aluminum tubing. You might be able to convert a beach sand chair. They do lie low/recline and you might have to mod it slightly to get it to fit in your tub. Shortening the width should not be too bad. I would not worry too much if you submerge it in water, it wouldn't be constant exposure once you let it drain and dry after the bath. Good luck.
1-10 of 43Next »