There is a new movement taking place in the United States in the area of technology and manufacturing. While it is known as DIY – AT what that really stands for is Do It Yourself – Adaptive Technology or Design It Yourself – Adaptive Technology. The changes that are taking place are doing so in the regular manufacturing community but the implications for the disabled community are mind-boggling. Special computers are allowing manufacturers to individualize item production. Once an acceptable three dimensional image of an object is placed in one of these computers an exact replica of the object can be produced from a wide variety of materials ranging from a number of different plastics, ceramics, aluminum and even stainless steel. There are an increasing number of websites appearing on the Internet that have the capability of producing an individual item based on the 3-D image placed in it.
The benefit for those of us in the disabled community has the potential, in my opinion, to change the way adaptive products are designed, made and utilized. If you have the need for a specialized piece of adaptive equipment and it is designed in 3-D, it can be manufactured “relatively” inexpensively depending on the material used. Once the image is made available anyone who has access to that image can have it manufactured. It is even possible to make slight changes in the design and then have the piece produced.
Designing in 3-D is difficult if one lacks the training. However, there are a number of free software programs to let one get started. There are also websites that can take a drawing of an object and convert it to 3-D, so the drawing does not necessarily have to be made by the individual needing it.
Handihelp would like to become a source for 3-D drawings of commonly used adaptive devices such as a wheelchair bracket, hunting and fishing equipment and other pieces of useful adaptive equipment. 3-D images could be placed on the website and a person would be able to download the image and have it manufactured online “inexpensively.” The price obviously would vary depending on the material used in the manufacturing process. Handihelp would also like to encourage other individuals with disabilities who have designed adaptive equipment in 3-D to place those images on our website where they would be available, at no cost, to anyone who could benefit from them. Handicap is also learning to design 3-D so one day it may be possible for you to submit your ideas to us and then we would be able to design 3-D image. With this idea in mind Handihelp has established DIY- AT Handihelp.