For many children with physical disabilities, playing with off-the-shelf toys is not possible. Depending on their unique abilities, a toy may not be accessible.
However, if a child can move their foot, head, arm, mouth or any other part of their body, it is possible to add an accessibility switch (or switches) to the toy so that they can play with it. Accessibility switches come in a variety of styles and can be actuated by different body parts and varied motions.
See enablingdevices.com/catalog/capability_switches/best-sellers for some great examples of accessibility switches.
The toy adapted for this instructable is a 2-button remote control train. We will add two switch jacks to the remote control unit so any type of accessibility switch can be swapped in to control the toy. For example, if a child is able to move both their mouth and their left foot, a mouth switch and foot switch could be plugged in so that they could use this train to chase their cat.
Adding switch jacks to this toy will not affect the original quality of use - the existing buttons will operate as normal.
I'll be posting video soon of switches controlling this toy.
This is an overview of switch adapting basic switch-based toys. if you are interested in adapting a toy for a friend or relative, be sure to visit your local toy store and make sure the toy's functionality can be operated with a single finger press or squeeze. Some toys will not work with with this technique because they require a different interaction from the user. For example, a remote control helicopter has 2 joysticks instead of 2 button. It would be possible to adapt the helicopter's joysticks, but different techniques would be required.
Some more information on switch accessibility can be found here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Switch_access
Photos also available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/base2john/sets/72157625534950454/
Step 1: Choosing a toy to switch adapt
As explained in the note in the intro section, you will need a toy that has a simple operation. You can ask to test the toy in the store, but keep in mind you want a push button operation.
The toy train we'll be using here has a simple 2 button interface:1 button to go forward, another button to go in reverse with a slight turn. Perfect for practicing your locomotive K-turns.
The remote control can be adapted to add a switch interface which would enable switch users to control the toy with their head, feet, eye blinks or any standard accessibility switch.