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Delaware Assistive Technology Initiative

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Volume 12, No. 2, Spring 2004

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The AT Bargain Basement

Marvin Williams, AT Specialist, Kent County ATRC

Hello again and welcome to the leisure activities installment of the AT Bargain Basement. For those of you who are new to this column, I try to find assistive technology for $100 or less. I also try to find devices that are available locally at places such as Wal-Mart ® and Radio Shack. Well, I broke that last rule again this issue by doing some Internet and catalog shopping. I did find some good devices, so let's get this party started!

My first items may seem like I'm cheating, but I'm not. (Okay, maybe a little.) My first recommendations are books on audio cassette and compact disc (CD). They are widely available at bookstores and range in price from $10 to more than $50. While the books on audio cassette are not set up with chapter stops, books on tape for specialized players are. The fact that the audio cassette does not have chapter stops may not matter much to a person who is listening to a novel on tape. Personally, when I pick up a book I'm reading, I usually start reading where I left off, not at the beginning of the chapter. I may need to go back a page or two to jog the memory, but this can be done with a cassette by rewinding to let listeners hear what they may have forgotten. Now, with the advances in digital recording, we are seeing more books on CD. This is nice in that it allows the listener to skip chapters. However, the downfall of books on CD is that if the listener stops the CD, it usually will not restart in the exact spot where the user originally stopped it. Thus, listeners are forced to start at the beginning and fast-forward until they find the point where they left off reading. If this is not a problem, then a book on CD may be an option.

Very similar to audio books are electronic books or e-books. These are not limited to technical manuals, and are downloadable from many of the same Websites that sell print books (e.g.,,, and E-book prices depend on the popularity of the title. The average price seems to be about $10. An e-book purchase includes a free document reader (usually Adobe or Microsoft), so no additionally purchased software is required. Do pay attention to the document reader that the book uses. If you do not have the specific reader on your computer, you may need to download it from the Website where you’re purchasing the book or from If you need assistance in downloading a document reader, please contact your nearest ATRC.

Recently, Dan Fendler, the AT Specialist in Sussex County, learned that the latest version of Adobe Reader has text-to-speech capabilities. This feature may be of assistance to e-book readers with reading and/or comprehension difficulties.

My next pick, for the bowling enthusiast who uses a wheelchair, is the Bowling Ball Holder Ring (Figure 1) which sells for $39.95. The ring is designed to safely hold the ball while the bowler wheels up to the foul line. The device is a one-piece unit that easily attaches to most wheelchair armrests.

Bowling Ball Holder Ring Figure 1

To purchase the bowling ball holder ring, visit Access to Recreation at or contact the company at (800) 634-4351. The company also sells other adaptive bowling items that cost over $100, but because of my self-imposed rule, I will not speak of those items here. Still, if you have questions regarding them, please feel free to contact me for more information.

My next picks are two craft items. The Colonial 3-Way Hoop is a stand-supported embroidery hoop. The stand allows the device to be placed on a table or clamped to the arm of a chair, making it easier for persons to do embroidery with one hand. While there are many different brands of adapted embroidery hoops with different capabilities, the one I found on (Access to Recreation) sells for $84.95.

Also available through Access to Recreation is Kroh's Crochet Aid (Figure 2) which retails for $11.95. This device helps individuals with limited hand function to enjoy crocheting. The crochet aid is a fairly straight-forward device. An adjustable Velcro band wraps around the user's wrist or hand to provide the right amount of tension on the yarn. A ring, with a small slit for yarn to pass through, is attached to the band and keeps the yarn from slipping to the side. A second ring wraps around the finger. This ring has a slit in the top to keep the yarn close to the fingertip, making it easy to hook and crochet.

Kroh's Crochet Aid Figure 2

I've mentioned a few AT leisure devices for the young at heart. Now, let's discuss devices for the young. For water play, there is the Under the Sea Water Table (Figure 3) from Enabling Devices ( or (800) 832-8697). Press one switch and a stream of water starts. Press another switch and music plays while lights glow. This toy retails for $95.95 and does not include switches.

Under the Sea Water Table Figure 3

Also available from Enabling Devices are switch-adaptable toy kitchen appliances (Figure 4). The toy blender, coffee machine, and mixer enable pretend kitchen play. The mixer, which actually works, retails for $31.95. The blender and coffee machine retail for $31.95 and $34.95, respectively.

switch-adaptable toy kitchen appliances Figure 4

That does it for this installment of the AT Bargain Basement. As usual, if you find a bargain and want to share it with everyone else, please feel free to contact me, and I'll tell everyone about your find. Now go have fun!

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