Website Highlights DIY Tools For People With Disabilities

Two Olin College professors have launched a website about making DIY (do-it-yourself) tools accessible to help people with disabilities perform daily tasks. Inspired by Cindy, a Massachusetts woman who lost her legs and parts of each of her fingers following a heart attack, Assistant Professor of Design Sara Hendren and Professor of Anthropology Caitrin Lynch started Engineering at Home ( with help from some of their students. 

Cindy developed workarounds for everyday tasks, such as opening a jar, selecting medication from a pill bottle, and eating a sandwich. The solutions included on the site range from adhesive wall hooks to help open jars to a carabiner handle for carrying a purse to a small soft-grip tube that helps Cindy apply make-up. Visitors to the site are encouraged to create and adapt their own workarounds.

“Our culture tends to value high-tech innovation exclusively, leaving aside the deceptively humble objects that make daily life possible for so many people with atypical bodies,” said Hendren.

Hendren and Lynch are not alone in pushing for adaptive technology to shift its focus from high-tech to low-tech. Engineering at Home drew inspiration from several other adaptive technology projects, including Zebreda Makes It Work (, Maker Nurse (, Farm Hack (, and the Adaptive Design Association ( 

As Hendren and Lynch wrote on their website’s manifesto: “Some of Cindy’s skill lies not in creating new technologies, but in seeing things differently…. The technologies that are most useful to Cindy are flexible, multifaceted objects like tongs and sponges, elegant in their simplicity and universality….”

This article was adapted from information provided by Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering.

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