Accessible gift ideas for friends and family members with disabilities

By Perry Luksin 12/16/2021
Accessible gift ideas for friends and family members with disabilities

It’s the season for giving gifts! If you still have holiday gifts to buy and are feeling stuck on what to get, here are some ideas for either now, or any time of the year to give as gifts to friends and family members with disabilities.  

Clothes and accessories 

There are several companies that design clothes for people with physical disabilities to help make getting dressed easier. Adaptive clothing uses Velcro and magnets closures instead of buttons, snaps or zippers. Shirts, pants, dresses and skirts have been designed to open at the side of the back and might also include access points for a person’s medical equipment.  

A person who uses a wheelchair might appreciate a new wheelchair pouch. They come in a variety of colors and styles and offer their users convenient ways for storing their items by attaching to either the wheel, arm or back of the user’s wheelchair.  

If you’re looking for a gift with more personal meaning, jewelry might be the way to go. Braille jewelry, such as a necklace, earrings or bracelet printed with Braille come in a variety of styles and might be a nice choice for people who are blind. Fidget jewelry is an option for someone on the autism spectrum, or someone who has anxiety or ADHD. It includes built-in moving parts to provide a positive sensory experience to help with stress relief.  

Games, toys and audiobooks

Playing with games or toys or listening to an audiobook can be a great way to unwind and relax. Traditional games including Monopoly, Scrabble, dominoes and dice can be purchased in Braille versions, while people with intellectual disabilities who also have sensory processing disorders may enjoy Play-Doh, Silly Putty, coloring books, kinetic sand, magnets and Legos. Audiobook subscription services help make reading more accessible without the need to flip through pages or carry an actual book around. Users can listen from their smartphones, tablets or computers as well.  

Household items and tech gadgets 

Have a coffee lover in your life? Pod coffee makers eliminate the need for opening a coffee canister lid, measuring ground coffee or using coffee filters. The task of brewing a cup of coffee becomes easier as the user adds water, inserts a pre-packaged coffee pod and presses a button on the pod coffee machine. Many coffee pods can be recycled in the same way as other plastics and metals, which helps create less of an environmental impact.  

Tablets and tablet accessories can be practical gift options. Tablets provide access to games, audiobooks and more. You might want to explore styluses or mounting systems while people with intellectual disabilities who also have sensory processing disorders may enjoy noise-canceling headphones. 

Adapted electronics are devices that have added features so that people with disabilities have better access to things like music players, remote controls and computer accessories. This category also includes items used for playing games online or through video gaming systems. Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado has a list of adaptive gaming items with lots of great options for different gaming systems (for Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, etc.). You’ll find adaptive game controllers, ideas for game subscriptions services and more. Switch-adapted toys and electronics have been modified so that the original switches are rerouted to a larger switch, which then becomes easier to operate. Adapted switches are available as finger switches, foot switches or button switches.