Adaptive Design Association Inc

Build For One, Engage Everyone, Change Everything.

aka ADA   |   New York City, NY   |  www.adaptivedesign.org

Mission

Adaptive Design Association's mission is to advance healthcare, education, and social well-being by engaging everyone—novice to expert—in building custom adaptations, discovering untapped potential, and nurturing communities that thrive with diversity.

Ruling year info

2001

Executive Director

Ms. Jennifer Hercman

Main address

313 West 36th Street

New York City, NY 10018 USA

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EIN

13-4170232

NTEE code info

Children's and Youth Services (P30)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

“Our purpose is to instigate a revolutionary shift, one where we reject barriers and segregation and choose instead to imagine and build custom adaptations; where we share designs and stories; and where we respond to difference and disability, not with fear or neglect, but with solidarity and love.” -Alex Truesdell, ADA Founder So many of us are affected by the disabilities of loved ones and the urge to adapt their environments to fit their needs. Where there is a will there is a way, and it is the mission of ADA to provide anyone interested with the skills, materials, and confidence needed to turn inspirations and ideas into functional products that can change the way we look at disabilities all over the world.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Custom Adaptations for People with Disabilities

ADA, established in 1998, was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 2001 and is the only nonprofit that makes and teaches to make custom equipment for children with disabilities in New York State AND we do this with low-cost materials--primarily triple-wall cardboard which is strong and environment-friendly.

Examples include a custom bike-seat insert for a 4-y-o with cerebral palsy so he can enjoy bike rides with his mother, a dining-chair with neck and trunk supports so a 5-y-o survivor of a drunk-driving accident can share meals with her mother, a seat-cushion with user-specific cutouts for an adult with chronic pain syndrome so he can continue driving his car, and an adapted accelerator for a 5-y-o girl with cerebral palsy so she can drive her ride-on toy car with a head switch.

We build custom adaptations like these from scratch and modify standard devices to fit unique needs. Our services are not covered by insurance BUT are critical for a child to reach developmental milestones, engage socially, and have fun. Our ‘Never Say No’ policy means no child is denied a device because their family cannot pay for it. Under 17% of our adaptations are reimbursed, and we rely on foundations and donors to support this policy.

Population(s) Served

AT ADA we believe that the process of creating the item is as therapeutic as the item itself. We engage community members of all abilities at various stages of the fabrication process. Every fabrication activity doubles as a tangible teaching-learning opportunity for interns/volunteers from our Made-To-Learn (students with autism, middle school to graduate students), Women-Working (women in alternatives-to-incarceration programs), and Seniors-in-Action (senior citizens) programs.

We also offer structured one, two, and three-day courses in cardboard carpentry and adaptive design at our center and model workshop in New York City. These courses teach skills that can be applied to nearly any situation, not recipes to follow. By the end of the introductory series, most people will be able to build simple adaptations independently using simple tools and easy-to-obtain materials. From there, further skill and confidence is achieved in the tried-and-true way: practice, practice, practice. Guided practice, in proximity to experts, is available through Advanced Learning Labs, but many people are comfortable practicing on their own. Others don't intend to build things themselves, but find that the courses help them become better requesters of adaptations: to envisage what kinds of items might be of benefit to an individual and what kind of adaptations are feasible, so they can collaborate with builders to see that specific needs get met.

​Many who take these courses are therapists and other professionals in health care and education. Others are parents of children who need adaptations, contractors, designers, retired people from many fields, college students in many fields, and so on. The only requirements are interest and a willingness to try something unfamiliar.

Population(s) Served

Thousands of visitors can attest that we encourage everyone to learn to design and build user-specific adaptations, and to help establish adaptive design communities everywhere.

There are children (as well as adults and seniors) in every community who need custom adaptations. Every community is also filled with people who would love to be part of the design and fabrication of those adaptations. With a small workspace, skilled staff, and a group of savvy volunteers—an adaptive design center can play a key role in transforming our understanding of disability in education, employment, transportation, recreation, rehabilitation, veteran services, and senior care.

To promote the formation of new adaptive design communities worldwide, ADA offers intensive classes and ongoing consultation. We encourage organizations to send highly motivated staff to New York City for intensive study to gain essential skills. These intensives are custom-designed for each circumstance. When they return home, people who have taken intensive training should practice and expand their skills (by regularly building adaptations) and they should be expected to engage colleagues, parents, and local makers.
Emerging groups learning and practicing adaptive design include a University campus in upstate New York, a school in Argentina, two NYC Department of Education schools in the Bronx, and a community-led initiative in the Hudson Valley.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Awards

The MacArthur Fellows Program 2015

MacArthur Foundation

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Financials

Adaptive Design Association Inc
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Adaptive Design Association Inc

Board of directors
as of 5/7/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Ms. Carole Gordon

Senior VP for Housing Development, The Bridge

Term: 2013 -


Board co-chair

Tracy Ehrlich

The New School University

Carole Gordon

The Bridge

Tracy Ehrlich

The New School University

Kathy Goldman

Community Anti-Hunger Advocate

Marianne Petit

New York University

Ronnie Eldridge

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? No
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No