As people who use wheelchairs, canes or crutches, braces, grab bars or grabbers, ventilators, prosthetics or toilet extenders, we tend to be consummate jury-riggers. Because each of us has different needs–and because most of those who are designing the products we use have no experience using them–our desire for comfort, efficiency and safety strikes a fine balance. It is that necessity that causes many of us to carry a roll of duct tape in our back pocket and to always have a wrench, hammer or welding torch close at hand.

Through modification, most of us have come up with excellent solutions to make our daily lives easier and more efficient. More and more, there are many of us who are not only taking our bright ideas to the manufacturing stage but actually changing the way products are built. Consider well-known wheelchair-design pioneers like Marilyn Hamilton of Quickie or Jim Finch of Teftec. But there are also other, less well-known innovators who have done much the same thing with different adaptive products.

We talked with several people who had an idea and believed their inventions would make viable products. You may recognize their products or may have seen their advertisements. You may even recognize their stories as your own: facing a problem head on and using firsthand experience to come up with a solution. Their helpful tips and stories of perseverance may even provide the motivation you need to manufacture your own idea.

Hammer’s Time