These cool DIY home hacks can help people with disabilities or other mobility problems.

Engineering at Home was created by Sara Hendren and Caitrin Lynch at Olin College of Engineering, and features tons of DIY accessibility projects that offer engineering solutions to help people adapt to their environments.

For example, these personal sandwich-grabbing tongs:

Or these eating tools that don't require fingers to hold them:

Or a reading board that holds down a newspaper/book without having to grip the pages:

Hendren and Lynch were inspired to create this Engineering at Home platform by the story of a woman named Cindy:

Cindy woke up in a room at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts in September 2009 in a radically altered body. She suffered a catastrophic heart attack while on vacation two months earlier and was med-flighted from Maine to Boston. In response to the heart attack, Cindy experienced an adverse reaction to medication and multiple organ failure. Despite dire predictions, Cindy survived and made it through weeks of delirium where she was never fully conscious. These complications resulted in amputations involving all four limbs: both of her legs below the knees and varying amounts of each of her fingers.


With time, though, Cindy regained her ability to walk and started to find a "new normal." She got great care from occupational therapists, physical therapists, physicians, and prosthetists. But over time she found that the standard tools provided to her, even at a top-flight rehab hospital, didn't facilitate some of the most important things she wanted to recover—how to write a thank you note, feed herself, put on makeup and jewelry, turn the pages in a picture book as she reads to her grandchildren. So Cindy started to design and build what she needed. From small hacks on her hand cream jar to repurposing cable ties for pulling out drawers and salad tongs for holding a sandwich, Cindy has embraced an everyday engineering ethic that she never thought possible.

I like the sound of "everyday engineering" as an ethos, and ethical approach to, well, everything. Hendren and Lynch expand on this in their manifesto:

Some of Cindy's skill lies not in creating new technologies, but in seeing things differently. Rather than seeing a makeup sponge as simply a cosmetic tool, she saw a perfect friction-cushioning shield for her residual limb. In an adhesive wall hook, she saw a system for opening jars. And in a cable tie, a zipper pull. Cindy reminds us that sometimes the given designation for an object hides a clever alternate use. She directs our vision to the unexpected: low-tech objects or high-tech; not just "medically necessary" objects, but everyday objects that allow her to pursue her passions and live a life with meaning and purpose.

There are so many incredible, innovative projects to check out here.

Engineering at Home is the work of Sara Hendren and Caitrin Lynch at Olin College of Engineering. All images/test licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.