Opening up a new toy is a fun experience for all children, but the way they play with the toys can be different.

The South Carolina Assistive Technology Program (SCATP) recently teamed up with School District Five students for its first Adaptive Toy Workshop.

“This is a new project of the South Carolina Assistive Technology Program,” said Carol Page, Program Director. “We wanted to do something to help families, professionals and school staff to make toys more accessible for children with disabilities. By partnering with the students from School District Five we are also educating students about assistive technology as a possible career path.”

Eight students from the Center for Advanced Technical Studies volunteered to work at one of two workshops held at the South Carolina Assistive Technology Resource Center on November 8 and November 9.

Families, professionals and school staff that work with children with disabilities were invited to bring battery-operated toys to the South Carolina Assistive Technology Resource Center to have toys adapted for switch use. During the workshop, SCATP staff and high school students helped participants create their own switch to operate the adapted toys. Everyone left with their toy adapted for switch use and a switch to operate it.

“It makes me feel really good because I got this opportunity from one of my classes,” said Shelby Lewis, Dutch Fork High School senior. “It is really nice to be able to adapt these toys and in the process I am learning a new skill that I can now add to my resume.”

An adapted toy is one that has been manipulated for ease of use for children with dexterity issues, typically by adding a large switch that can be pushed. The parts to adapt the toys cost just a couple of dollars, but that’s nothing compared to the $60 mark-up some companies charge for an adaptive model sold online.

“I think it is fantastic that students were able to take the skills and knowledge learned in their classes in District Five and apply it to such a worthy activity,” said School District Five Special Services Director Dr. Angie Slatton. “Adaptive toys are extremely expensive and because of this partnership, students were able to support families to adapt toys that children with special needs will enjoy for years to come.”

The South Carolina Assistive Technology Program is a federally funded program that helps people with disabilities identify assistive technology that will improve their daily living, their ability to work and learn and be a more independent part of the community.

“It is a win, win, we get the support we need and the students get the skills and hands-on experience they are looking for,” Page said.

Learn more about the SC Assistive Technology Program at http://scatp.sc.edu.

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