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37th Annual CSUN Assistive Technology Conference Has Concluded

Open Source & Low Cost Assistive Devices for ADL

Date & Time
Wednesday, March 16, 2022 - 2:20 PM PST  
Elite 1-3  
As an Associate Professor in the Department of Art & Design at the University of Delaware, my approach to research in assistive devices is rooted in applying the creative practice to user-centered design for the direct benefit of individuals. In this presentation, I hope to share this research in the design and development of open-source and low-cost assistive devices I have created to assist many people with activities of daily living (ADL). These devices result from extensive, user-centered, participatory action research conducted at the University of Delaware over many years. This research manifests as multiple outcomes, including the four I wish to present. These are the PushnDraw® assistive writing/drawing device, the Ambit assistive eating system, the Pivot assistive eating device, and a collection of devices I call Grippers. The PushnDraw® was created to help young people with limited motor control in their hands to transition into independent drawing and writing. This device is also a fun, educational/developmental toy for young children. The Ambit is a tabletop robotic system that affords the user independent eating. This was developed as an alternative to expensive, proprietary, commercially available devices that are financially out of reach by most people who need them. The Pivot assistive eating device is a switch-activated, electro-mechanical fork device that attaches to a person’s forearm through a custom-molded brace secured with velcro straps. This device affords independent eating by pivoting food from a plate to one’s mouth with a flip of a toggle switch located near the controls of an electric wheelchair. The collection of devices I called Grippers is wheelchair attachments constructed from off-the-shelf photographic equipment helpful in holding things within reach. These are currently assisting individuals around the country and were developed in direct collaboration with people who need them. This research is not for personal financial gain. The Ambit system, Pivot device, and Grippers are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.  
  • Higher Education
  • Disability Specific
  • Healthcare & Rehabilitation
  • Research & Development
  • Manufacturing
Audience Level
Session Summary (Abstract)
This is a presentation of multiple assistive devices created as part of a creative research program at the University of Delaware providing open-source and low-cost solutions to assist people with activities of daily living.  
Session Type
General Track  
  • Design
  • Development
  • Independent Living
  • Product Demonstration
  • Research


  • Ashley Pigford
    University of Delaware

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