Institute on Disabilities at Temple University


The Institute on Disabilities at Temple University receives grant from Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation

March 2017

Got Cardboard? The Institute's new grant might change people's perception of this everyday material forever... The Institute on Disabilities at Temple University has been awarded a High Impact Innovative Quality of Life grant by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. The grant will fund the "Adaptive Design Greater Philadelphia" program and will serve children (birth-6) with paralysis causing conditions.

Through partnerships with local organizations, "Adaptive Design Greater Philadelphia" will provide children that qualify for Medicaid with personalized adaptations designed to encourage inclusion and education for each child. Surprisingly, these adaptions will be made entirely out of 3-ply cardboard and include everything from customized standers to customized chair inserts. Select professionals (occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech-language pathologists) from partner organizations will team up to make the equipment. Alex Truesdell, 2015 MacArthur Fellow and Founder of the Adaptive Design Association in New York, will train the teams to design and make these personalized adaptations using low cost materials. Using local space at Philadelphia Woodworks in Manayunk, each trainee will receive the tools and materials necessary to serve 3-4 children with the customized adaptations and the skills necessary to serve many more.

"This project is exciting and the Institute couldn't be happier to take it on," said Celia Feinstein, Executive Director of the Institute. "It's not every day that we get to be a part of such cutting edge work."

Inspiration for the project came from necessity. Philadelphia has the worst poverty rate of the 10 largest cities in the United States. As poor children with paralysis causing conditions grow and develop, their adaptive needs change quickly. By the time, they receive commercial adaptive equipment, they have grown and the equipment may need modification. Using cardboard is cost effective, easily available and quick to use. Regarding personalized adaptations for children, time is of the essence.

PBS, The New York Times and The Huffington Post have praised Adaptive Design Association for its innovative use of cardboard. This coverage and publicity has sparked replications all around the world and it was only a matter of time before it made its way to Philadelphia.

"Adaptive Design Greater Philadelphia" will have a direct impact on the lives of the children that receive customized adaptations and the professionals that fabricate them. The project will build on the Institute's assistive technology expertise as the Commonwealth's Assistive Technology Act Program (Pennsylvania's Initiative on Assistive Technology) and benefit greatly from numerous relationships with disability provider organizations throughout the greater Philadelphia area.

Learn more about Adaptive Design Greater Philadelphia.


Kim Singleton
Director of Assistive Technology Programs
Institute on Disabilities at Temple University
[email protected]

Russ Goldstein
Project Coordinator - Adaptive Design Greater Phila
Institute on Disabilities at Temple University
[email protected]

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Institute on Disabilities at Temple University
University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Service