Toys are a staple of childhood, but some kids have a harder time than others finding toys they enjoy. That includes Megan, who is blind and also suffers from low muscle control.
“When we asked about what she liked to play with, she didn’t show much interest,” remembered Cynthia Poon, a young industrial designer. Megan was 12 when Poon and friend Maeve Jopson met her during a visit to a Rhode Island school for children of different abilities.
“We asked her mom about her favorite toys and learned that there weren’t very many options that are accessible for her,” Poon said. “For example, mainstream toys for her age lack the sensory feedback that she needs for play, and the toys that do provide that type of feedback are for much younger children, and therefore not age-appropriate.”
Now Poon and Jopson are asking for your help to bring a toy that Megan and other children could enjoy to the market through a new crowdfunding campaign. The entrepreneurial duo, both recent graduates of the Rhode Island School of Design, are the cofounders of the fledgling inclusive toy company, Increment, and the inventors of O-Rings.
O-Rings are four giant stackable rings of incremental sizes, with each ring featuring a different color, texture, weight, and filling. As sensory learning toys, they’re designed to be used by children of varying ages, regardless of whether they have disabilities. Babies can use them as they learn to crawl and sit up, while children can lift, build, climb, and jump into the rings.
“We discovered in our research that there is a need for toys that are accessible and appealing to kids whether they have a disability or not,” Poon said.
Poon said they learned through Megan’s teacher, that “there aren’t many toys for kids to play with in an inclusive environment … (W)e set out to create a toy that all kids can grow with and learn from, regardless of ability, age, or gender.”
Poon and Jopson were inspired to design O-Rings while still in school, after a class assignment challenged them to “find a need in the blind community.”
Their research included visiting Meeting Street School in Providence, R.I., where they met Megan.
In a video demonstrating their product, you can see Megan and other kids smiling as they play with the rings.
Good luck to Poon and Jopson. May their toy continue to delight children for years to come.
Check out their IndieGogo campaign here. It ends June 27.
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