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    Hello, I am an Occupational Therapy student completing my final clinical stage at a school for children with developmental disabilties, and we are in need of a feedback zipper! :womans_clothes:

    The request is for a zipper that provides feedback once the zipper is locked in the base. Feedback could be in the form of a visual (e.g., lights), auditory (e.g., bells) or any other stimulus that alerts the child they have completed the step. The goal is to alert the child that they have locked in the zipper and that they can now zip up the zipper. The request is for either a feedback attachment piece to add to our current large zipper or for a new zipper (that resembles our large zipper) with a feedback system. If you are interested, please let me know and I will send you photos of our large zipper.

    The end product will be used by many students at the school! Plus, you will be contributing to the participation of children with disabilities in their daily lives and therefore in their communities…which is pretty wonderful if you ask me.

    Background information:
    Learning how to use a zipper is an important skill that allows children to participate in meaningful daily activities, such as getting dressed and any other activity that requires the use of zippers. Zippering can be difficult for a number of reasons, such as decreased fine motor skills, vision issues, etc. The Occupational Therapists at the school currently use a large zipper to teach children how to zipper. While the zipper helps address some barriers to zippering, it does not address an important area. Children often have difficulty perceiving when the zipper body has reached the base of the zipper. Typically children will not pull the zipper down far enough so that it locks with in the base. Without this important step, they are unable to zip up the zipper. This is where you come in. We are in need of a zipper that provides feedback to alert the child that they have completed the step.


    Thinking about different ways to do this… accurate position sensing in a tiny environment makes it interesting. Can you either measure or post a picture next to a ruler of your “learning zipper”?

    Is it part of a learning sweater or something? If being part of a garment is an acceptable teaching configuration, that would make more room to embed sensing hardware.

    A passive, all mechanical solution would be the best (no battery), but likely more difficult to manufacture (for me anyway). I’m thinking laser LED plus tunnel-style optical sensor might work. Sort of like a miniature version of the sensor for garage door openers.


    Hello Justin,
    Thank you for your response and interest. Yes, the zipper is attached to a garment (a sleeveless fabric vest). It would be ideal to have minimal maintenance expenses, such as changing a battery. However, if installing a battery is simpler to build and would speed up building time, then it’s a viable option. I was also thinking about an LED tunnel-style approach. You lose me when you talk about the laser and optical sensor system, but it sounds awesome and I can’t wait to learn more about it.
    Before you begin building, can you please confirm where you live (for shipping purposes) and if there will be costs?

    I attached photos without measurements. The arrow in the photo is pointing to the base, the feedback light (or whatever it is) needs to turn on ONLY when they have locked in the other side of the zipper in the base. In the last image you see what it looks like underneath when the zipper is locked in. Please let me know if you have any questions.



    Thanks Jenna, these are very helpful.

    I have here a sample zipper and I wonder if this very simple strategy might work: in my zipper, it is fully inserted when the insertion pin plus 2 teeth are buried in the base and slider. What if you were to paint the pin and first 2 teeth some bright colour? The student knows it’s fully inserted when all the coloured teeth are inside the slider. Obviously, I’m assuming here that the learners are fully sighted – you mentioned using a light as indicator, so this assumption seems reasonable… Is it? We’d have to choose a paint that wouldn’t get scraped off too quickly – probably need to experiment with a few kinds to see how long they last.

    Do you often find that learners struggle with having the slider all the way down before inserting the pin? The above paint strategy could also help with that if a few teeth are coloured on the other edge of the zipper, such that you could tell the slider was fully down if you could see the first coloured tooth above the slider. Maybe the visual cue is seeing both coloured (mating) teeth above the slider and aligned with each other.

    Perhaps this is difficult to visualize. I could post a picture if that’s helpful.

    I’m in Ottawa, and my daughter who visits often lives in Montreal, so shipping should be straightforward, perhaps even free.

    • J

    Hi Justin,

    That’s a great idea. We could experiment with coloring the teeth of the zipper. I will be working with a student tomorrow to teach them how to use a zipper. I’ll look at the zipper to see if this strategy would work.
    Thanks again for the great idea. I’ll let you know how it goes.


    (Just a minor admin note – this involves the creation of a new design rather than building a pre-existing design from the library, so I’ve moved it to the appropriate category.)


    Hi @jwintour,
    Update: I haven’t had a chance to measure yet, however, I thought about your idea to color the teeth of the zipper and had some thoughts based on my observations working with a student. Zippering can be challenging. I noticed that there is an added layer of difficulty with zippering because the action happens at waist level (distance from the eyes and awkward angle). With that said, it might be more helpful for the feedback to appear further up the zipper so to ensure the student sees it. What do you think about a christmas light idea? They could be positioned next to the zipper and decent from the top to the bottom of the zipper? I know there are christmas lights with battery packs. Maybe we can create a way for the lights to turn on when the zipper body is locked in the base? What do you think? You see where I am going though right? It needs to be obvious and clear.

    Also, timeline wise, I will be at the school for a few more weeks so hoping to create something before then!


    thank you  @MMC_Jake!

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