Accessible cots

Emma Maher and Jason Jones are just two of the disabled parents from New South Wales, Australia, who have benefited from cot adaptations by Technical Aid to the Disabled (TADNSW). TADNSW is a not-for-profit organisation which coordinates the work of volunteers to supply customised equipment, modified bicycles, refurbished computers and information about adaptive technology to people with disabilities, their families and carers, and the disability and health sectors.

Pictured is Jason with his son.

Front opening cot

Young mother Emma Maher, who has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair, contacted TADNSW when she was 30 weeks pregnant with her first child, Louis, who is now 18 months old. She could see the problems that looking after a baby would present and she and her occupational therapist, Julianne Castle, set to work to solve them.

Emma needed to have a cot adapted. Due to muscle weakness in her legs, Emma would not be able to stand up to reach into a standard cot and pick up Louis, even with the side at its lowest level. She purchased a new cot and asked TADNSW to modify it so the front would open and she could reach inside.

Volunteer Bob Jones assembled the cot apart from one side. He cut the remaining side in half and fitted it as two gates, using self-closing bar door hinges at each end and a barrel bolt in the middle.

Emma only needs to open one side to reach Louis, but bed making is easier with both gates open. Now, as a toddler, Louis is able to scramble in and out himself, making sure to come down safely backwards.

Wheelchair accessible cot

Like most young dads today, Jason Jones was determined to be actively involved in parenting when his wife Kate was pregnant with their first child, Caleb, in 2007.

However, Jason has C6 incomplete quadriplegia as a result of an accident in 1992, so he uses a manual wheelchair and has limited strength in his hands. One of the problems he and Kate could anticipate before the baby was born was that Jason wouldn'tt be able to reach into the cot from his wheelchair.

The couple's occupational therapist, Debbie Croll, referred them to TADNSW. Debbie and volunteer Owen Spencer visited Kate and Jason a couple of months before Caleb's birth to see how the cot they had bought could be adapted.

The first step was to raise the cot base so it was high enough for Jason to fit his wheelchair underneath. Owen planned the leg extensions so they could be unscrewed and removed later on. He then separated the drop side of the cot into two equal gates, hinged them from each end and braced them at the corners to strengthen the side and prevent sagging.

The bolts had to be carefully chosen so Jason could manage them without trouble. Slide bolts such as those used on theatre doors were chosen so Jason could manage the pair of them at the same time.

Two and a half years later, Caleb is now sleeping in a bed and baby number two, Zac, is using the cot. Jason is very grateful to Owen for his help. “The improved access to the cot has allowed Kate to leave the house for shopping or a walk, knowing that I could safely get to the boys if needed,” he said. “It is a real blessing, making it possible for me to care for my two boys.”

This information is reproduced with permission from TADJournal, the official journal of TADNSW, Australia. For more information, please visit

First published DPPI Journal, Issue 75: Spring 2012


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