It’s the most wonderful time of the year! But let’s not pretend like buying gifts for everyone on your list isn’t stressful. Since we don’t live in a universally designed world (yet – I have hope!), buying gifts for your loved ones with disabilities can be challenging, so I’ve complied a list of gifts that have accessibility features. The pro is that these are mainstream items – they are more affordable and easier to acquire. The con is that these products are definitely not universally designed – they are not intended to be accessible for all. My goal here is to have a list of gift ideas with identified features that may make it more accessible for some people so that you can pick and choose what will work best for your loved one.
So, let’s dive in! Here are 15 gifts that I pulled from Amazon’s Top Toys 2022 list with my thoughts as an OT and ATP. These are listed in no particular order – no one toy is “better” or more accessible than the other, it just depends on what works for you!
P.S. This is just the toy/game gift guide – be on the look out for other categories of accessible gifts!
Any hyperlinks are indicated with a *.
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase.
This soccer ball hovers or “floats” just above the ground, which means that you need less force to make it go! This is a great option for those with less strength, range of motion or motor control. Plus, the ball lights up for added visual contrast and assistance with tracking and attention. You could also use this on a table with your arms or use a reacher.
This nail glam machine doesn’t have any walls which means two things: you don’t need to be able to extend each finger individually to use it AND there is room for caregiver support if you need it.
Everyone loves a classic remote control car, but what makes this one stand out is the one-handed controller! This means that if you are an amputee or struggle with fine motor skills on one hand, you are able to manage the controller with your other one. It also makes it easier to mount to a table or wheelchair. The size and shape of this controller also lends itself to be able to be used with your feet. As a quick DIY to make this controller even more accessible, I would also add tactile and/or visual contrast with bump dots* or colored stickers*
Coming in hot with another robotic! This one comes with a physical controller as well, but gets bonus points for also being gesture controlled. This means that no fine motor skills are needed to make this robot sing and dance AND it’s more cognitively intuitive to use. There is a high tolerance for error with this robot with its built-in collision sensors to avoid crashing!
Do you know someone who loves making jewelry? These pop beads are larger than typical beads, which makes them easier to grasp, and connect together so there is no need to use string, which can be difficult to manage.
When you combine the classic marble run with magnets, you get a design that is a lot more flexible and easier to use! No need for grasping and motor coordination to connect pieces with this run – just place and line up the parts to send your marble on its way. This means you don’t need any fine motor skills – use a closed fist, residual limb or a reacher to move the pieces around on your fridge!
This frisbee has been created to fly straight and be as lightweight as possible. This means you need less coordination and strength to play catch! This design also supports pain-free catching with your hands, wrists or feet.
This sewing machine is almost magic in the way that it supports the seamstress! There is no threading required, which makes it easy to get started for those with fine motor or visual challenges. This machine even knows when to start and stop, which decreases the cognitive and motor requirements of using it!
A more accessible version of the classic catch and throw game, this “Foam Dartz” uses a bigger paddle and dart, which makes it easier for those who have challenges with motor coordination, visual tracking, target-hitting and fine motor skills. The dart even sticks to walls and windows for a higher tolerance for error! You could even mount the paddle to a wheelchair or table for additional support.
This Sprinkle Art Shaker is a mess-free sensory experience! This device makes arts and crafts a gross motor activity by allowing the user to put down some glue and shake it up. For additional cognitive structured support, there are even a variety of design sheets that can be traced. To make this even more accessible, I would consider using a universal cuff with the glue and sprinkle bottles. If grip strength is a concern with the glue bottles, you can always squeeze it out and apply with a paint brush or your fingers.
This bracelet holder makes a longtime favorite craft a lot easier! The movable pegs allow you to hold the bracelet in place, so you don’t have to worry about motor coordination and using both hands at the same time. The pegs can also be used to keep the strings separate so it’s easier to keep track of where you are when following the pattern. Use high contrast colors to make it easier to tell the strings apart.
Fill in your coloring pages with these twistable crayons! These are great for a couple of reasons: a tight grip or strong force can’t break them, you can use various pencil grip supports and they are even compatible with a foot/mouth stick.
This puzzle saver is more intuitive than gluing your pieces together. It’s just like a sticker for your puzzle, so the cognitive demands are lessened. It’s also white in color, which makes it easier to see that you covered the whole puzzle compared to clear glue!
These Lego plates help keep all the materials together, so that there is less to manage and it can be mounted to a wheelchair tray or table to support any positioning needs. The solid colors provide additional contrast against the colorful Legos (it comes in more colors than just white!).
If upper extremity limitations make it hard to carry your favorite doll around, look no further than this baby doll carrier! You can use it on your front or back, sitting in a wheelchair, or hang it on your mobility device. Switch out the clasps with hook and loop material for increased independence with putting the doll inside.