Best Adaptive Tools for DIYers with Disabilities

Every disability is unique, and it can be difficult for disabled DIYers to find adaptive tools to suit their needs. Here are 10 problem solvers.

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Ergonomic Garden Tools

Ergonomic Garden Tools

For gardeners who suffer from arthritis or other conditions that make gripping traditional gardening tools difficult, it can feel as though the pain of using the tool takes away from the joy of working in the garden.

Luckily, there are a number of tools that have altered the handle grip to make it easier to use for those with long-term finger/hand joint damage from rheumatoid arthritis or related conditions. This award-winning tool set from Radius Garden includes a trowel, transplanter, weeder, scooper, and cultivator.

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Easi-Grip Adapter

Unfortunately, not all tools are available in adapted form. The good news is that it’s possible to alter an existing item to have more user-friendly grip points.

From United Kingdom manufacturer PETA, Easi-Grip adapters allow almost any straight-handled tool to be used in a more ergonomic fashion. The size and design is most applicable to garden tools used in a to-and-fro motion. But this adapter also works on more general tools like scrapers and telescoping poles.

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Easi-Grip Scissors

The Easi-Grip line also includes household tools, like these scissors, with a design that makes them easier to hold and operate. This is useful for DIYers who enjoy fabric crafts or anyone who likes having easy-to-use scissors close at hand. It’s a great example of how rethinking design can make an everyday object more accessible and less painful to use.

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Tactile Pen

A tactile pen is designed to help identify objects by touch — you apply liquid drops that dry into small bumps. Sometimes used for making Braille labels, this versatile tool is equally useful for marking measuring lines on everything from measuring cups to oil dipsticks. If you have low vision and find yourself struggling to make out hash marks on rulers and containers, consider adding a tactile pen to your toolbox.

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Swivel-Mount Magnifying Light

For DIYers with vision impairments, an adjustable magnifier light can be an absolute game changer. Easily mounted to most work surfaces, a magnifier light provides plentiful illumination and increased visibility.

Depending on your range of motion, you may want to look for magnifying light with a goose neck. Those are even more adjustable and less likely to stick out over the edge of your work area.

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General-Purpose Gripping Aid

If you struggle with grip strength or arm control, a grip aid can be a big help. By enveloping the hand, it reinforces your finger and hand strength, allowing you to focus on the task rather than maintaining your grip.

Look for a padded gripping surface that’s durable yet easy on the skin, one that comes with an array of connection points to allow for maximum flexibility.

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Silicone Grip Straps

If you need grip assistance but don’t want your whole hand covered, EazyHold silicone grip straps may be a better fit for you. These silicone bands slip over tool handles and surfaces, allowing for an easier, more stable grip. The selection of sizes is perfect for different sized hands. Some are even well-matched for fine detail work.

This is a great choice for DIYers who prefer to have a tool directly against their skin for better tactile feedback, and especially useful for skills like wood carving.

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Wheelchair Side Bag

Wheelchair Side Bag

Most tool aprons are designed to hold items at waist height, making them accessible only if standing. If you prefer to work seated or use a wheelchair, a side bag tool holder can keep your equipment close at hand.

The trick for DIYers is to find a side bag rugged enough to withstand the points and edges commonly found on tools. A standard bag can be modified by lining the sides and bottom of the bag with leather or puncture-resistant fabric.

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Drill Guide

Drilling a hole takes finger and wrist strength, coordination and clear vision. All that is amplified when the material you’re drilled into is especially hard or brittle. One solution is a drill press, but that can be an expensive investment, and accessing the tool can bring its own challenges.

One solution is a drill block. A small model can be hand held or secured in place with a clamp, and the drill bit slotted into the proper-size metal collar. Another option is a portable drill guide which can be attached to the work surface.

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Outlet Remote Control

Many shop tools pose potential hazards, and it’s always wise to unplug tools when changing blades or performing maintenance. Unfortunately, many plugs are in hard-to-reach areas and require pulling in a direction that can be difficult for some DIYers. An alternative: Outlet remote controls like this one from BN-Link.

With this device, outlets are turned on or off via a remote control small enough to fit in a pocket or on a wrist wrap. With the power shut down at the source, you can work on corded tools without worrying about accidentally bumping the trigger while changing blades or cleaning.

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Dan Stout
Ohio-based freelance writer and author Dan Stout is a former residential remodeler, commercial site supervisor and maintenance manager. He’s worked on nearly all aspects of building and DIY including project planning and permitting, plumbing, basic electric, drywall, carpentry, tiling, painting and more. He also publishes noir fantasy thrillers, including The Carter Series, from Penguin imprint DAW Books.