Multi-Disciplinary Design program at the U develops outdoor gear for people with disabilities.

New Sleeping Bag Adaptive by Design

People without disabilities take a lot for granted — especially when it comes to enjoying the great outdoors. Pedaling a bike, using a sleeping bag and even planting flowers can be difficult for people with physical limitations. The challenges came as a shock to students in the U’s new Multi-Disciplinary Design program when they started the “Adaptive Sports Studio,” a semester-long, applied-learning experience.

The students teamed with the U’s Spinal Cord Injury Program at the Rehabilitation Center to study these difficulties, propose solutions and build prototypes. Their work resulted in 13 unique products, some with potential for commercial development. A few examples: devices for pedaling a bike with your hands; a sleeping bag with foot and hand pouches and magnets instead of a zipper; a climbing harness for protecting legs and knees; and a garden shovel for people with limited hand dexterity.

“This group really took a challenging problem, moved through a creative process and came up with a bunch of compelling product possibilities that none of us could have imagined,” said program director and professor Jim Agutter, who describes the studio course as an “intense, immersive product-design exploration.”

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About ‘Student Innovation at the U’


A version of this article originally appeared in the 2015 “Student Innovation at the U” report. The publication is produced by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute to celebrate students from all colleges and majors doing amazing things. Read more stories and get involved at

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