The UW-Platteville Holiday Toy Hack will be held Saturday, December 7, 2019!

Many off-the-shelf electronic toys cannot be used by children with special needs. We have a solution! UW-Platteville’s Holiday Toy Hack offers a fun, innovative way to adapt donated toys to make them more suitable for holiday gifts for children of all abilities.

Students from across the campus are invited participate in the Holiday Toy Hack on December 7, 2019, from 12 p.m.–3 p.m., in Engineering Hall on the UW-Platteville campus. Gain hands-on experience in problem-solving applied to toy adaptation while making a difference for children and families in the Platteville community.


The Holiday Toy Hack promises to be an exciting, collaborative event, filled with surprises and possibilities!

At the Holiday Toy Hack, students will learn about the adaptive needs of people with limited motor abilities or developmental disabilities. For example, these toys may be designed with buttons that may be too small or stiff, or they may require too much coordination for children of differing abilities to use. These toys can be adapted by replacing these functions with external switches. A wide variety of switches exist—large buttons, head-tilt switches, blow switches, and many more—and they will all work with our adapted toys.

With adapted toys, children can experience more independent play and gain self-confidence. Additionally, the toys help children learn cause and effect, develop fine and gross motor skills, and can encourage communication and social skills.

Volunteer for Toy Hack

We welcome students from all majors and all parts of campus to volunteer for the Holiday Toy Hack. We have had student participants from all colleges—there’s something for everyone. Even if you are new to the experience, don’t worry. We can “train you up!”



We are seeking companies to participate in our events as Event Sponsors. We offer significant marketing opportunities in the pre-event, event, and post-event stages of the cycle. This provides a unique opportunity for you or your company to market directly toward technically minded makers and display your commitment to the special needs and disability community.

Money is used for purchasing toys and materials such as tools, wires, and connectors. Toys are the greatest need and are typically $20 each. Additionally, funds are used to purchase switches. Switches are typically $35 and up.

If you wish to directly donate a toy or switch, please first contact Professor Hal Evensen at

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the UW-Platteville Engineering Physics department, the Pioneer Maker Club, and UW-Platteville’s IEEE Student branch.

Holiday Toy Hack



“Thank you for the gift of adaptive toys for our kids. These toys make play more accessible and fun for children who are not able to play with traditional toys the way many children do!”

Julie G. Gasway, MA/CCC, SLP
Manager, Witwer Children’s Therapy
UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital

“The toy has been a great addition to the classroom. It allows consumers who need more assistance with motor function to engage with the toy independently. It can be difficult or discouraging for a child to watch their peers independently hold and play with toys that they may not be able to, due to motor function deficits. Once the toy is hooked up to a switch it gives the child independence to turn it on and off while also working on motor skills. When the specific toy donated to us is used you can see participants smiling and watching as it sings and lights up. It has also served as a subject of communication for kids that allows them to work on social skills. They talk about the toy and encourage their peer to push the button so the entire room can experience the toy.”

Anne Armknecht, MBA HC
Executive Director, The Arc of East Central Iowa

“There are so many barriers for those with limited mobility and dexterity. Adaptive toys offer new experiences and inclusion in activities that might not otherwise be possible."

Audrey Gaio-Johnston
Executive Director, Southwest Opportunities Center, Inc.

"Going out to buy toys for your child's holiday should be great fun, but when your kiddo can't play with many of the toys and games you know they would love due to physical limitations or issues it can be a bit heartbreaking and a lot frustrating. Holiday Toy Hacks are a way to take the heartbreak out of the holiday for extra special kiddos like ours and give them a chance to play on their own terms."

Jen & Robert Bendorf
(parents of a recipient)