Kids with severe developmental delays are not able to use the same toys that kids without disabilities are able to use. Most of their limitations are so severe that they have very little motor control, verbal communication skills, and vision. These children have few opportunities to affect their environment and receive stimulus in response. The children at the Carter School of Boston are the one percent of disabled kids with most severe needs. The Carter School students need a toy that meets them at their cognitive abilities, stimulates them, encourages interaction, and rewards them for manipulating their environment.
The team built a large version of the popular Lite Brite toy that caters specifically to the needs of the Carter School students, providing a way to enhance their environmental awareness more effectively than other toys available on the market. The pegs are big enough to comfortably fit in their hands, which suits the students' reduced motor control. Since most of the students are visually impaired to some degree, the Lite Brite blocks the light coming from inside until a peg is inserted into one of the holes, ensuring a clear link between the action and reward stimulus.
The design is complete and has been delivered to the Carter School, where it was tested by several end users. A second generation prototype featuring textured pegs and a sound element is under consideration.