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close this bookMore with Less: Aids for Disabled Persons in Daily Life (Tool, 1993, 93 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentEating and drinking
View the documentPreparation of food
View the documentPersonal care Aids
View the documentClothes which can help disabled people
View the documentCommunication and reading and writing aids for disabled people
View the documentSitting aids for disabled persons
View the documentGames
View the documentAids for the Blind
View the documentGardening
View the documentCrafts


Gerry van der Hulst
Marian Velthuys
Greetje de Haan

Tool 1993 - The Netherlands

Eating and drinking

Plate ring

Scooping up food with a spoon or fork can be made easier for one-handed people or people with a coordination problem by using an upright partial ring on the plate. The ring is made of a curved aluminium or plastic strip of 4 centimetres high. Punch three holes into it and fasten three clips onto the strip. Strap the ring on the plate by connecting the clips with rubber bands. (This will also keep the plate from sliding away.)

Cup holder

If someone has difficulties holding a cup, a large handle which fits the entire hand may be attached to the cup. Use metal or pliable plastic. One can also make two handles, for people with coordination problems.

Utensil holder

For people having trouble holding eating devices or bringing a spoon or fork to the mouth, adaptations are helpful. Spoons, forks and knives can be thickened by using wood, rubber or bamboo to ease the grip. One can also make a utensil holder for slipping one's hand through. This holder can be made from a strip of flexible leather or a piece of rubber band onto which a tunnel of elastic band has been sewn. A fork or spoon can also be bent in another position to ease the grip.

Swinging tray

This tray is useful for people who can only use one hand or who have tremor or coordination problems. It can be made from a plastic or metal tray. It may not look stable, but spilling is reduced to a minimum. Check the balance very carefully.

Preparation of food

Tap opener

Opening a tap takes a lot of strength. Less strength is needed if the tap is opened with this turner. Drive thick nails through a pre-drilled piece of wood. Place the nails in such a way that they fit exactly around the tap' s knob. Remove the sharp nail ends. An alternative is to use a bamboo stick and carve it in such a way that it tightly holds the knob.

Potato peeler

If a person can only use one hand to peel potatoes or fruit, a peeler can be fixed firmly onto a wooden board. The board is fixed onto the table. If a person lacks the strength in his or her hand to hold a potato peeler steadily, a handle may be attached to the peeler.

Cutting-board with nails

Cutting vegetables with one hand is easier if these are pinned down on a board with blunt nails. To pin the vegetables down even more firmly, an elastic or rubber band can be stretched over them. Use nails that cannot rust, and make them blunt and smooth. Glue some rubber pads under the board to prevent it from sliding away while cutting.

Personal care Aids

Small rope ladder

If a person has trouble getting up in the morning from a lying position and does not have strong hands, he or she can pull him- or herself up by using a small rope ladder. The ladder should be attached firmly to the wall or to the foot of the bed.

Bathing sponge on a stick

A bathing sponge on a plastic or bamboo stick can be used to wash one's back when one is unable to reach it because of restricted mobility. Use an electricity pipe or bamboo stick that has been bent by careful heating and glue the sponge onto it. It is even more convenient to use a bent stick with a small hole in it, so that a rope can be used to attach the sponge. In that case the sponge can be replaced easily when spoilt.

Towel with elastic bands

This towel is meant for people who can only use one hand to rub themselves dry. Fasten a cord' band, or preferably an elastic band, onto each end of the towel. One end can be held by the hand and the other end can be fixed to a doorknob or a hook. A wooden handle around the rope is even more convenient.

Shower chair

A person who cannot stand and use his or her hands at the same time, can sit comfortably on this chair while taking a shower. Take an old plastic chair and punch holes in it to let the water through. Or use the frame of an old chair and wind it with plastic clothesline or inner tyre tube.

Raised toilet seat

A raised toilet seat can be used by people who have trouble sitting down or getting up due to painful or stiff joints. This raised toilet seat is constructed from an ordinary toilet seat. Place three wooden blocks underneath the seat, one at the back near the hinge and two at the front. Between the two front blocks, a curved metal or plastic plate is placed to prevent splashing.

Latrine seat

A person who cannot squat on a latrine can use various types of seats that are easy to take away by other users. A child with uncontrolled movements can sit in a small-size car tyre. Other possibilities are different types of low or high stools with a circle sawn out from the seat. In large families, a foldable stool is practical.

Extended comb

If a person has insufficient mobility in the shoulders or elbow joints, combing one's hair may pose a problem. This is made easier by using a comb on a stick. Fix the comb firmly with glue or with a small screw.

Undressing stick

If a person has insufficient mobility in his or her joints it may be hard to undress. An undressing stick to give the clothes an extra push can help a lot. Attach a flat piece of wood or bamboo with a groove in it onto a stick. At the other end of the stick a hook can be fixed to pick up clothes from the floor.

Nail clipper with clamp

This type of nail clipper can be used by people with trembling hands, one-handed people or people with diminished strength. The clipper is glued and screwed onto a table clamp. The table clamp is made of a piece of wood into which three wooden pins are stuck. The entire aid can be firmly fixed onto the table by means of a wedge, a slanting piece of wood, underneath the table.

Elastic shoe laces

Shoe laces do not have to be tied anymore if rubber bands are used instead of ordinary shoes laces.

Heel strap for slipper

If someone has difficulty walking properly on slippers due to uncontrolled leg movements, this heel strap is very useful. Take a piece of inner tube tyre or any other soft but strong material, and tie it to the sides of the slipper. You can also sew it on.

Extended shoehorn

A shoehorn on a stick is a handy tool for someone who cannot reach his or her shoes by bending or by lifting the foot. Attach the shoehorn to a stick with a screw. The backside of the stick should be sawn off at a slant, so that it will not interfere with the shoe.

Helping hand

People in wheelchairs, or people who have trouble bending down can pick up things from the floor with a 'helping hand'. It is made of a piece of bamboo. Carve a groove at both ends of the bamboo. Put a piece of wood in one groove to serve as a wedge and fix it with rope or rubber bands. When you press the bamboo lightly at the sides, it works like a pair of pincers.

Key grip

If turning a key is necessary but difficult for a person, due to diminished strength, coordination difficulties or painful joints, the key can be enlarged to ease the turning. Use wood, bamboo or an electricity pipe.

Double clothes-peg

It is hard to hang out laundry with one hand. This activity can be made easier by fixing two clothes-pegs onto each other. Put the laundry on the first peg, then peg the second one to the clothesline. It is also possible to make a double, loosely twisted clothesline. The clothes can be put up between both lines without having to use clothes pegs at all.

Clothes which can help disabled people

Wrap-around skirt

A wrap-around skirt is a comfortable piece of clothing for people who cannot dress or undress due to coordination problems. Even when a person is lying on a bed or sitting, the skirt can be put on. The skirt is always comfortable because it can be adjusted and changed quickly. Use patterned fabrics, so that stains will attract less attention. A basic pattern of a skirt with four panels is used. Add a few extra panels for the flap. An extra long band keeps the skirt in place.

Gardener's trousers

These trousers are very wide, so that a lot of movement is possible when wearing them. At the same time, they keep the clothes underneath in place. To facilitate changing diapers when a child is incontinent, a divisible zipper can be sewn along the entire length of the inner seam.

Zouave pants

These pants are easy to put on and take off. The special, wide model makes small accidents due to incontinence less conspicuous. Changing underpants and diapers is easy because the pants can be opened at the bottom with buttons. The pants are highly comfortable for people who have to sit most of the time.

Sweater with kangaroo bag

A sweater with a kangaroo bag is practical to take toys along. Slipping the sweater over the head is easy because the sweater closes at the shoulders with buttons.

Oversized sweater

This oversized sweater is easy to put on and take off. The wide sleeves and open sides are highly practical for people who have difficulties moving their arms in a controlled manner. Ribbon should applied along the side seams to fix a zipper, buttons or Velcro closures.

Button-up shawl

This short shawl is suitable for people who sit most of the time and for whom slipping on a vest or sweater is difficult because of motor problems. It can also be used as a chest and backwarmer under an overcoat or a cape. The button-up shawl consists of a knitted triangle. Start knitting at the tip of the triangle. The shawl closes at the front with buttons and loops.

Wheelchair poncho

This rain cape fits the size of the wheelchair exactly, so that the user stays perfectly dry. The back of the poncho reaches the chair's pushing-bars. The front amply covers the knees. It closes at the back.


A muff easier to put on than gloves. It helps children who sit still a lot to keep their hands warm. The muff will also have a calming effect on children with uncontrolled hand movements. When it is nicely decorated or provided with a pocket children will use it with pleasure.

Spilling collar

This collar is useful for children who spill or drool a lot. The collar can be made in various designs for different clothes so that the child will look nice in it. Cut an almost full circle of double cloth. Sew a piece of heavy cotton material between the two layers at the front to make the collar well-absorbing.

Fronts for drooling

These fronts can be worn at both sides. They can be made from a double piece of cloth with absorbing material in between. In this way, the dress is protected and no longer has to be washed every time.

Apron for playing and spilling

This small apron is a great help for children who dirty themselves easily by drooling and spilling. The apron can be made from an old shirt. Decorated pockets and strings, applied on the apron, enable the child to take along several toys without loosing them.

Cuff links with elastic bands

These cufflinks consist of two buttons connected by an elastic band. Undoing the cuffs is no longer necessary and fumbling with small buttons belongs to the past.

Communication and reading and writing aids for disabled people

Alphabet glove

A person who is unable to talk, can formulate words by pointing at the letters on this glove. The letters and the numbers 1 to 10 on the glove have been glued on in random sequence.

Picture book

A person who is unable to speak, can communicate via this book with photos of every-day activities and objects. By pointing at the photos, the user can express what he or she wants. The photos have been divided into categories such as eating, drinking, emotions, leisure etc. Instead of photos, clear pictures from magazines may be used.

Keyboard aid for type-writer

A person with poorly controlled hand movements can use a typewriter better with the help of this metal or wooden plate. The holes fit the keys exactly. This prevents striking the wrong keys accidentally. Instead of using one's finger, one may use a hand-made wooden hammer to strike the keys.

Typing splint

A person who lacks strength in his or her fingers can stabilize the finger with this typing splint. The finger piece is somewhat longer than the finger and the tip is wound with rubber band for a better grip on the keys. You can also wind a small elastic band around the splint and finger to keep the finger in place.

Ball pen adaptations

If a person has difficulty holding a ball pen, there are several ways to adapt the pen. Usually, a pen is held with three fingers. If a person lacks strength in the fingers, a piece of wood or a strip of bent metal around the hand can be used as a grip. A triangular piece of wood or elastic bands around the pen can also make the grip easier.

Sheet holder

To prevent a sheet of paper from slipping away, you can tie it down on a piece of board with elastic bands or rope. You can also make a metal frame that you can place over a piece of board. The frame should fit the board exactly, so that the paper in between is firmly fixed.

Handwriting conductor

A handwriting conductor can help people with bad eyes or whose hands tremble, so that writing in a straight line is difficult. The conductor is made of firm cardboard. Cut several strips of the same width as the paper and glue them onto a piece of cloth so that it is possible to roll the cloth backwards. The cloth should be fixed onto a larger piece of cardboard in such a way that the paper can be stuck in between. Now you can roll back the cloth strip after strip after each written line.

Elongated brush

To be able to paint while sitting, one can lengthen the brush. Wrap the end of the brush with a piece of cloth and stick it into a light hollow tube. In this way, the brush is firmly fixed and can be changed easily whenever you need another brush.

Reading spoon

A person who cannot use his or her hands in order to turn over the pages of a book may turn the page with the help of wooden spoon with a roughened tip. For example, twist a rubber band around the tip of the spoon.

Reading stand

If a person cannot hold up a book very well, it can be put on a stand. Attach a small piece of wood, large enough to hold the book, at the frontside. The angle of the stand is adjustable by sliding the elastic bands forwards or backwards. The transverse laths are attached with partly tightened screws.

Newspaper holder

This newspaper holder prevents a paper from falling apart while being read. Pin the left fold of the newspaper between two wooden sticks with two winged nuts. The newspaper remains in one piece and won't blow away that easily.

Sitting aids for disabled persons

Floor table

A child can play, eat and write at this table while sitting on the floor. When a half-circle is sawn out of the table top, the child is supported all around.

Corner chair

This corner chair is ideal for a child that has difficulty to remain sitting upright. The base and two side pieces are quarter circles. The side pieces are fixed to the base at a 90 degree angle. If the child is unable to sit with spread legs, a triangular part fixed to the base may help to remain sitting upright.

Jerrycan chair

A child with a poor sitting balance can sit still on the floor in this chair made from a plastic jerrycan. Take care to clean the can well before use so that no traces of poisonous liquids remain.

Special pillow roll

A spastic child can play more comfortably when it is lying on its back supported by this pillow. The head and shoulders of a child with stretching spasms come forward. The child can now easily bring its hands together and grasp a toy. When the child lies on its belly, the pillow roll supports the hunk and chest. Length = about 2 x the child's length.

Diameter = about 1.5 x the child head's diameter. A double piece of cloth is filled with wool, cotton, dried leaves or grass. The ends of the roll are tied together with a string.

Wedge-shaped belly-board

A child who cannot lift up its head or trunk when lying on its belly because of spasticity or muscle weakness can profit from this wedged belly board. When the child is lain on the board with full support up to the armpits, it can freely use its arms for playing. Width = 2 to 3 x the child's width. Length = about 2/3 of the arm's length. One or more holes can be drilled in the middle of the board. A wooden pole or triangle can be placed into the hole to keep the child's legs spread and thus provide more support. If necessary, the board can be padded with latex foam, cotton, grass or leaves.


Triangular balls

Suitable for children who cannot pick up smooth round balls due to mobility problems. These triangular balls are easy to grab and let go because of their small size and loose filling. Use cloth in bright colours. Cut one square piece for the base and four triangular pieces for the sides and sew these together. Loosely fill the triangle with 100 grams of cheap rice, lentils or the like (sand will leak). Make several balls in different colours.

Sock puppets

These puppets are especially suitable for spastic children who cannot or barely use their hands or feet. They can exercise their hands and feet while playing. The puppets are made from socks that are decorated with a face at the toe.

Many-coloured balloons

'Many-coloured balloons' is a game for infants. The pieces of this game can be picked up with a magnet because a staple has been punched into every piece. The balloons exactly fit into a board with holes. Paint each of the balloons in a different colour corresponding to the colours in the holes. Now put the right balloon in the right hole.

Inlay puzzles

There are several ways to adapt puzzles for use by children with motor disorders. If a child has difficulty picking up ordinary pieces, screw-eyes or tiny knobs made of bamboo or cane can be fitted onto them.

A game of patience

Try to get the marble or bead into the hole. This is a good game for people with minor motor disorders. On the bottom of the box a picture has been pasted, with a hole in the place where an eye used to be. Changing the picture now and then makes the game more attractive.


As the word indicates, this is a game to play on one's own. The large-size game is suitable for people with a visual handicap or coordination problems. You start with 32 pegs in the holes. The hole in the centre is left empty. By moving one peg over the other, the peg is captured. You can only capture a peg horizontally or vertically. Take the captured peg out of game. The final goal is to have only one peg left.

Card holders

If one does not have enough strength to hold a set of playing cards, or if one only has one hand, the cards can be placed in a holder. For example, in a stiff brush, or between two pieces of cardboard fixed together with a pin, or in a piece of wood with a groove along the length.

Large dice

Dice are used in a lot of games. In a large-size version, they are suitable for people who have trouble handling small dice. The dice can be made from wood. The spots on the dice have been made hollow, so that people with a visual handicap can feel the number of spots and easily find the dice back after throwing. Round off the edges, otherwise it won't roll.

Tactile domino

Instead of spots, tactile materials have been fixed to these dominoes. Pieces of cloth, bicycle tyre, pins and many other materials are suitable for adapting this game to blind people.


Blind people and those with bad eyes can recognise chess pieces because either the black or the white pieces have been marked. This can be done by hammering in a small nail, or by winding an elastic band around the pieces. To prevent a piece from falling over or slipping away, a peg is glued to the bottom of the chess piece that fits into the holes of the board. The fields can be made recognisable by elevating the fields of one colour with pieces of wood or pieces of inner tyre tube.


This draughts board is suitable for people with uncoordinated movements or a visual handicap. The draughtsmen are pierced in the middle. A small black or white stick is glued in the hole. This stick fits into the holes in the board, so that the pieces cannot slide away. The black sticks are longer than the white ones, so that a person can feel which colour he or she is holding. The different fields can be made recognisable by elevating the fields of one colour. A double draughtsman is formed by putting an extra pierced draughtsman on the stick.

Aids for the Blind

Clock for the blind

This clock has been adapted for the blind in a very simple manner. The glass has been taken out, and the numbers have been marked with dots. Various materials can be used for marking: paint, plastic, glue etc. The hands of the clock, however, must be firm and resistant to twisting.

Tape measure for the blind

This tape measure can be used by blind people, as it is marked with rivets for every centimetre. Every tenth centimetre is marked with a hole or with a number in braille.

Ring with numbers for the telephone

A ring with big numbers can be stuck on the telephone for people with bad eyes. In this way it is easier to dial the correct number.

Planting or sowing board for the blind

For blind people who wish to work in the garden it is important to know exactly where to expect a plant. Plants can be planted in rows by using two L-shaped boards with several holes in them. The two boards are pinned to the ground with small sticks. The boards are connected by a string with knots at regular intervals, also fixed to the boards with sticks. At every knot a plant is put in the ground, after which the string with the sticks is lowered and fixed to the next hole. The short sides of the L are parallel to each other to keep the lines straight.

Planting board

People with a visual handicap can plant plants with the aid of this wooden board which consists of compartments. Each compartment contains a small pot into with a plant can be put. As a support for people with trembling hands, this board can keep the plants from falling over.


Rake with adapted handle

People with diminished hand strength can still hold this small rake. Cut a strip from an inner tyre tube and cut a small hole in it. Put the rake through the hole and stretch the strip over the hand. The handle is also thickened with inner tyre tube for a better grip.

Stick basket

If a person walks with a cane, and he or she wishes to work in the garden, a basket around the cane can be very handy for transporting small garden tools or things. The cane can be stuck into the ground and all the necessary things are within reach. At the same time, the cane can be used to lean on.

Gardening tools for one-handed persons

Long bars or gardening tools are hard to steer if you have to work with one hand. Onto this bar, a forearm cuff and an extra handle have been fixed. The cuff (a piece of rain pipe or bamboo) should be large enough for a hand to pass through in order to steer the tool. It should support the forearm

Double handed shovel

Shoveling is less heavy when an extra handle is fixed onto the bar of the shovel. The handle is made of wood, and fixed to the bar with a metal strip. The same adaptation can be made for a spade.

Rake with double handle

This rake has been adapted for someone who cannot hold a rake, but who does have arm strength. Two handles made out of a bent strip of metal or aluminum are fixed onto it, so that one can put one's hands through the handles.

Fork with double grip

People who have difficulty holding a fork can be helped by fixing an extra grip half-way the bar. In this way the fork can be handled better. The grip at the end of the bar is also fixed in a comfortable position for the hand. The same adaptations can be made for a spade.


Knitting belt

Knitting with one hand is only possible if you can fix one of the needles in, for example, a knitting belt. This belt is made of leather and is fastened around the waist. A ball of sheep wool is tied to the belt with a strong thread. The knitting needle can be stuck into the ball.

Knitting clamp

A knitting needle can be fixed onto a table with two small blocks.

Between the blocks is a groove into which the needle is stuck. The blocks are tightened by means of two screws with butterfly nuts, thus securing the needle. The lower block is fixed to the table with a screw clamp.

Recolling scissors

A person can operate these scissors with his or her arm or hand instead of with the fingers. String springing steel along the joint or put something flexible between the handles of the scissors. The scissors can be fixed to a solid piece of wood to prevent them from slipping away.

Embroidery frame

A person who wants to embroider and only has one hand at his or her disposal can fix the embroidery in this embroidery frame. The frame consists of two frames, one frame fitting tightly into the other. The frame should be adjustable, so that different materials can be pinned tightly into the frame. In this example, winged nuts are used to adjust the frame. See to it that the frame can be fixed firmly to, for example, a table.


A one-handed carpenter can draw an angle of 90 degrees with the help of a metal plate bent to an angle of 90 degrees or two wooden boards fixed to each other at an angle of 90 degrees. An ordinary square often does not stay in a stable position when you only have one hand at your disposal.

Nail holder

This nail holder is made of four wooden laths. They are glued and screwed onto each other at the points indicated in the picture. The two middle ones have been rounded at the ends so that the pincer opens if one presses the ends together. Holes of various sizes have been made into the holder for various nail sizes.


If a person has difficulty bending over, he or she can still pick up metal objects with a magnet on a rope or an angling rod. The pins and nails lying on the ground will be recovered in no time.