A Few of Our Favourite Things: July 2023

July is not only the anniversary of Twenty One Toys' founding, it's also Disability Pride Month. In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law, better protecting the human rights of disabled people in the United States, and around the world, disabled people and allies have been celebrating the contributions, ingenuity, triumphs, and humanity of people with disabilities every July since. Blind students and students with low vision were instrumental in the design and development of the Empathy Toy, and principles of universal design that came from the disability community continue to influence the work of Twenty One Toys today. We also still have a lot to learn, and we are working to make our toys and workshops more accessible and inclusive.

Want to Play The Empathy Toy and Failure Toy Online?

Join Our Next Global Play Sessions!

Disability activist Tiffany Yu, an Asian woman with medium length black hair stands in front of a dark grey background. She's wearing a cream-coloured blouse and has a tan wrist brace on her right hand. She's smiling looking at the camera.
Photo courtesy of TED

How to Help Employees with Disabilities Thrive

Wondering how you can make your workplace more accessible and inclusive? Entrepreneur and disability advocate Tiffany Yu has some simple tips that anyone can implement in their workplace, and a lot of them sound like good general advice. After all, we could all benefit from a workplace that makes fewer assumptions, embraces more flexibility, and looks for tools and strategies that make work more comfortable for everyone. You might not know about the disabilities of everyone on your team, so starting from a place of universal access and open-mindedness is always good idea.


"People with disabilities have been advocating for remote work environments and flexible hours for decades now, and it took a pandemic for the world to realize it could happen. [...] This isn't the first time I can think of when an accommodation for people with disabilities ended up improving life for society at large. Audiobooks, curb cuts, closed captioning, even electric toothbrushes. Disability is so often the root of innovation."

- Tiffany Yu, Founder and CEO of Diversability, disability advocate
An highly stylized animated image of 8 people standing in a line across the image. All of the people are dressed in various combinations of blue, pink, gold, and navy, and appear to be talking to each other. From left to right, the people appear to be a wheelchair user, a person using crutches, a person with 2 lower leg prosthetics, a guide dog user, a wheelchair user with a laptop, a person with a prosthetic right lower arm and hand, a person with no visible disability, and a person with 2 lower leg prosthetics and holding a laptop.
Photo via BuiltIn

Universal Design 101

As a design-focused organization, we're big fans of universal design. Universal design means designing spaces or products so that they can be accessed and used by the widest possible range of people, regardless of age or ability. If you ever push a stroller or a bike up a ramp or use an elevator instead of the stairs when moving heavy packages, you're benefitting from universal design. If you're part of the 53% of millennials or the 70% of Gen Z who watch tv with captions most of the time, you're benefitting from universal design. If you use task lighting at your desk, listen to audiobooks, use voice commands on your phone, or use a handheld shower head, you're benefitting from universal design. Anyone can learn the principles of universal design and consider them when developing new products, planning events, or designing spaces.


"Universal design is so important because if a space is accessible, usable, and convenient for everyone regardless of age or ability, it’s inclusive for all. An accessible school, library, community centre, or park means everyone can participate fully in their community."

- Sonia Woodward, content specialist, Rick Hansen Foundation
A digital rendering of the new wheelchair accessible seat prototype for airplanes.
Photo courtesy of Smithsonian Magazine

Could This Convertible Seat Improve Air Travel for Wheelchair Users?

According to the US Department of Transportation, over 11,389 wheelchairs and scooters were damaged by airlines in 2022. That's 11,389 people who arrived at their destination and couldn't get where they needed to go after their flight, who were suddenly much less independent and mobile than they were when they boarded their flight. This summer, a new prototype was unveiled to allow wheelchair users to remain in their own chair, just docking it in the airplane when they board. It's designed to be incorporated into existing airplanes and could be implemented on flights in as little as 18 months. This could be one small step in making travel more comfortable and safe for wheelchair users!


"An innovation like this in air travel provides those with reduced mobility a safe and comfortable way for them to travel and remain in their own power wheelchair. It has taken truly a collaborative effort to develop this seat, and we believe this product provides an optimal solution for all parties.”

- Chris Wood, founder of Flying Disabled
Images of five book covers are displayed on a yellow and pink background. From left to right, the books are Get a Life Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert, Demystifying Disability by Emily Ladau, Disability Visibility edited by Alice Wong, The Pretty One by Keah Brown, and Not So Different by Shane Burcaw.
Photo via GoodGoodGood

42 Best Books On Disabilities Curated by a Disability Activist

The disability community is diverse and fortunately so are the stories being told about it these days. Whether you're looking for a romance, a young adult novel, a memoir, or a picture book, this list has something for you on it, many of which are Twenty One Toys favourites! Demystifying Disability by Emily Ladau, True Biz by Sara Novic, and El Deafo by Cece Bell are all highly recommended reads, and Year of the Tiger by Alice Wong is at the top of our list to read this summer. If this list isn't long enough, ask a local librarian for some more suggestions!


"Disability is a vibrant and multifaceted spectrum encompassing diverse conditions and experiences (from the visible to the invisible). It’s vital to challenge the dominant societal narrative that portrays disability as something separate or lacking — it’s quite the contrary. Whether you’re a part of the disabled community or an able-bodied person, every book on this list covers a shared human experience or call to action for us all to take."

- Daphne Frias, disability advocate, freelance organizer and non-profit consultant