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Assistive Device Center

Perkins Assistive Device Center is a workshop that creates customized materials for children with disabilities. A young girl might need a seat insert to go in regular chair for more back support; a boy with severe cerebral palsy whose best motor control is his head and who loves animals may need a scoop attached to a head-pointer to feed his pet lizard; and many children who cannot work at flat tables may benefit from slanted or vertical display boards, book rests and activity centers.

Photograph. Inside a workshop, an older gentleman wearing glasses makes adjustments to a chair insert at a workbench.
Skilled volunteers help the center provide affordable adaptive equipment.

Commercially available adaptations may not meet the needs of particular children, and the most esoteric may not exist. The Assistive Device Center, coordinated by Occupational Therapist Molly Campbell, designs and constructs such custom devices that help children lead rich and independent lives. Custom-made items meet the unique needs of individuals while being affordable, durable and attractive. Teachers, therapists, aides, and parents from Perkins and the general public are invited to make adaptive devices in the Assistive Device Center by appointment. The Assistive Device Center Photo Gallery exhibits a selection of projects completed at the Assistive Device Center.

Hundreds of professionals, parents and university students have attended workshops at Perkins and around New England led by Assistive Device Center professionals. Monthly workshops at Perkins cover a variety of adaptive design topics.

The Hilton/Perkins Program has also brought this expertise to projects for children who are deafblind and parents in developing countries where economics make it necessary to find low-cost solutions. The Adaptive Design Association in New York City offers training programs and fosters the creation of similar workshops in other communities.

In addition, Creative Constructions: Technologies that Make Adaptive Design Accessible, Affordable, Inclusive and Fun by Molly Campbell and Alex Truesdell (the present and past coordinators of the Assistive Device Center) is a publication that discusses assessment of assistive technology needs, the problem-solving process, and tips for replicating the workshop. Cardboard carpentry, appropriate paper-based technology, woodworking, plastic construction, fabric and foam use, and basic electronics are introduced. The book is on sale in the workshop for $24.95.

Skilled volunteers (woodworkers, engineers, etc.) help visitors in the center with their projects. They also construct items for teachers, therapists and parents who cannot schedule the time to build their own assistive devices. Several groups of adults with developmental disabilities frequent the workshop as well to help with painting, recycling and other projects. More volunteers are always welcome.

To learn more about the Perkins Assistive Device Center, or to schedule an appointment, please call Molly Campbell at 617-972-7520 or email Molly.Campbell@Perkins.org.