MMC Device Selection Guide: Writing Aids

September 16, 2021

a person uses a palm pen holder

In the Makers Making Change (opens in a new window) Assistive Device Library (opens in a new window), we have a number of writing aids available to help users with a variety of disabilities use pens, pencils, and other writing utensils — some make it easier to grip a writing utensil, some don’t require the use of your hands to write. We also have devices that work as a hand guide, making it easier to print in small areas on paper.

Use this device selection guide to find the right writing aid for your needs.

Access Devices

Pen Ball (opens in a new window)

A user using the 3D Printed Pen Ball Holder to write on a piece of paper with ease

A customizable writing aid, the pen ball allows you to put your pen, pencil, or other writing utensil into a 3D printed ball, making it easier to grip. Based on an occupational therapy technique of putting a pen or a pencil into a tennis ball, the pen ball may be useful for someone who has difficulty holding a pen or pencil directly, such as a person with arthritis. The diameter of the ball and the writing utensil diameter can be customized to fit your needs.

Palm Pen Holder (opens in a new window)

A user using the 3D Printed Palm Pen Holder to draw on a piece of paper with ease

The palm pen holder is a low-cost, 3D printed writing splint that slips onto the palm. Users can gently curl their fingers around a handle to hold it securely or hook their thumb around the writing utensil. This 3D-printed assistive device has a large hole that can accommodate the width of various writing tools. This device may be useful for those who have limited grip strength or finger dexterity.

Finger Pencil Holders

A user using the 3D Printed finger pen holder to write with ease

The finger pencil holder is a low-cost, 3D printed aid that holds a writing utensil and fits onto a finger. This 3D printed assistive device is useful for those with difficulty gripping and still have some movement in their wrist or hand. We have three versions in our library: a horizontal finger pencil holder (opens in a new window) that can be worn on the thumb or index finger, a vertical finger pencil holder (opens in a new window) that can be worn on the index, middle, ring, and pinky fingers, as well as a parametric remix of the vertical version (opens in a new window) that can more easily be customized.

Adapted Head Pointer (opens in a new window)

a person uses an adapted head pointer attached to their baseball cap to dip a paintbrush in paint

The Adapted Head Pointer allows people with limited use of their hands or arms the ability to write, paint, or even use a computer. The head pointer can be worn on a baseball cap or visor, and can hold a writing utensil, paintbrush, dowel, or similar device, so that a user can control it with head movement.

Ready Writer – Assistive Writing Grip (opens in a new window)

Pink and purple ready writer with a sharpie in it being held in a hand against paper

The Ready Writer is an assistive device designed to decrease muscle fatigue for persons that have low finger mobility or strength. The device decreases muscle fatigue by creating a larger surface to hold. The larger surface allows for both a lower amount of force needed to grip the device and a more comfortable position to hold it. This design was created as part of the Make:able Challenge (opens in a new window).

Arm-mounted Pen Holder (opens in a new window)

A person uses the Arm-mounted Pen Holder to write "Hola" on a piece of paper twice

The Arm-mounted Pen Holder is an assistive device designed to help people with spinal cord injuries write using a pen. To achieve this, the device creates a stable writing position by attaching to the arm behind the wrist, and to the pointer finger. Having a more stable position allows the end-user to write by moving their arm rather than their wrist or hand. This design was created as part of the Make:able Challenge.

Assistive Pencil Grip (opens in a new window)

Pencil Grippers on a table

The assistive pencil grip is an adaptive aid designed to be used by persons that have low grip strength or mobility in their hands. You can choose between two sizes — 7.8 mm and 9.8 mm — to best accommodate your choice of pencil. This design was created as part of the Make:able Challenge.

Hand Guides

Signature Guides

image showing someone signing using the signature guide

A Signature Guide is a low cost, 3D Printed Assistive Writing Aid that helps people with dyslexia or other disabilities to write on a specific spot for purposes such as writing a name, signature, or initials. This design is the size of a standard ID card so it will fit in a wallet and has five different boxes for different sizes. In our library, we have a 3D printed version (opens in a new window) and a laser cut version (opens in a new window).

Number Aligner (opens in a new window)

Picture of 3D printed guide for aligning written numbers

The number aligner is a low-tech support for students with dysgraphia or fine motor issues that struggle with writing numbers in a small area and following along put numbers in alignment for basic math — addition, subtraction, long division, and multiplication. The aligner has a guide ruler that fits into the slot on the side and hooks onto the top of the notebook or workbook to ensure correct tracking of place values for multistep computations. A horizontal guideline is provided between each row for the “equal to” line, as well as a shorter vertical line on the second to generate long division problems.

How to Request

Do you need one of the writing aids listed here? You can click the link on the individual device to make a request, or you can go to the Makers Making Change forum (opens in a new window) and make a request (opens in a new window).

Do you have an idea for a writing aid not shown here? Do you have feedback or an idea for improving one of these designs? Just have a question? You can make a post on our forum and get in touch with the maker community, or feel free to email us directly at info@makersmakingchange.com (opens in a new window).

This post originally appeared on the Makers Making Change (opens in a new window) website.