Sure, we would all love to have a Giant Solar Death Ray or even a simple Tree Branch Edison Bulb Lamp, but at the end of the day the most effective (and sometimes, challenging) designs are those that make life better for those needing assistance to perform basic tasks.

Currently featured amongst their highlighted contest projects, Instructables has condensed a nice collection of projects that offer creative design solutions for those needing assistance due to various physical ailments.

Considering that some companies spend thousands (if not millions) of dollars on researching the Universal Design market (OXO Good Grips for example), it’s fascinating to see what garage tinkerers have developed on their own terms.

“We’ve got everything from projects to increase grip on everyday items, ways for wheelchair users to mod their chairs so they’re more useful and even a couple projects that will help folks that live with service dogs keep their service dog happy and healthy!”


Here’s a few of our favorites:

DIY Lighter Aid

by naessensseppe


This product is specially made for Nicole. Nicole is a woman that loves atmosphere and coziness in her apartment. An important element is that she loves to light candles.

Currently she performs the operation of lighting candles with a lighter rod. As a result of osteoarthritis in her hands she has to use both hand to do this, for her, painfull operation. This is not an efficient operation and requires a lot of strength and agility . Moreover, this is very stressful for her body .

Nicole lives alone in her apartment and can not always count on the help of others.What Nicole wants is bringing coziness in her apartment by light independently and in a simple way light her candles.Thanks to the lighter aid this desire was fulfilled and Nicole is having a lot less problems.

Project Link

Mailbox Opener

by ElizabethGoetvinck


The mailbox opener was designed for Christine. 10 years ago, she had a stroke on the left side of her brains so now she has a hemiplegia. Because of this, her right arm is paralyzed and she has an impaired function of the right leg what also includes a foot drop. Also she has a lower reasoning ability. Despite these limitations, she tries to live as independent as possible.

The mailbox opener is put in the mailbox and keeps it open; in the meantime Christine can mail the letter. This device is made using polystyrene, self-adhesive tape, EVA-foam. To make sure she won’t lose the device it’s attached to a hanger. Next to the mailbox opener we gave her a waterproof bag, this way she can carry the magazines herself.

Project Link

The Automatic Medication Dispenser

by janw


I wanted to make something for my girlfriend (who) got ill. I noticed how easily she forgot to take her prescribed medication and that made me think. A lot of people, especially elderly people, take a lot medication on a daily basis to stay as healthy as possible. Some of that medication needs to be taken on a exact time, or they don’t function as well.

So I decided to make a machine that automatically gives the right pills at the right moment and also sounds an alarm so that the person who needs those pills knows it’s time for his or her medication.

Project Link

Assistive Dining Device (Arm Sling)

by desdesmond

This is an instruction on how to make an assistive dining device for people with limited or no arm strength (such as Muscular Dystrophy or ALS) but still have hand movement. The assistive device (Schleeder) is designed to work with spoon and bowl (so only limited to soup or stew). The instruction is created for Occupational Therapist or those whose loved one may be benefited from this device.

Project Link

Liftable Hanging Planters

by J_Boi


The goal is to make a planter which is applicable for all wheelchair users and to provide a better ergonomic height for personal suitability, even without wheelchair.

Project Link

You can check out more Assistive Technology Projects on Instructables here.


Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.