Tetra Ryerson

Engineering that breaks down barriers

Tetra Ryerson is a student run group that works with the North American Society of Tetra. Together we create assistive devices for individuals with disabilities


Our team has chosen to work on a project that would assist in the day to day lives of those working at the South Asian Autism Awareness Center (SAAAC). The SAAAC offers programs and serve entrances and exits at all times a wireless real time controlled system was the ideal method of solving the problem. From this our team chose to implement a smartphone controlled door locking system. The door locks can be controlled through a simple user interface via a smartphone application that would unlock and lock the doors in real time whenever the client sees fit. In the event of power and or connection loss the locks can be controlled through a manual override only accessible to staff. While similar products do exist on the market many are extremely expensive, require additional modules for functionality, and have known usability issues. Our goal is to provide a device that is a fraction of the cost, self contained, and able to operate with little to no issues.


Team AUT is dedicated to developing a facility crisis alarm system for The South Asian Autism Awareness Centre (SAAAC). The innovative alarm system will allow the instructors to alert the emergency response team without disrupting the classroom and the adjacent rooms. This subtle system will be ideal for the centre, instructors and students. Team AUT is currently working on the appropriate model for the centre, and hopes to provide a satisfactory outcome.


Our team’s focus is on increasing the normality and independence of our target group’s day-to-day life by increasing the ease of an everyday task. The common task we have focused our attention towards is sweeping. Our team is designing an apparatus to assist individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) from South Asian Autism Awareness Centre (SAAAC) of Toronto to functionally use a broom. Motor coordination deficits are a basic aspect of ASDs (Fournier et al., 2010) and can make certain tasks more frustrating and challenging. The prevalence and severity of these deficits vary across the spectrum and among individuals. Therefore, we needed to design an apparatus which could be highly adaptable to a variety of individuals’ physical needs.

Our observations at SAAAC informed us that our clients with ASDs had the strength and range to use a broom, however, they were limited in their coordination and precision. The physical manifestation of this appeared to be dexterous; not enough force was applied by their hand and fingers, and a poor grip inhibited proper broom orientation with the ground. Our team hypothesized that if we could fix the broom to the user we could greatly reduce the amount of precision and coordination required to use a broom.

Our assistive device is very simple, it consists of a C-clamp and bar which can be secured to the handle of any broom or mop of any height. The bar component sticks out perpendicular to the broom handle. This bar is then slid into a specially modified glove/wrist brace, worn by the users. The broom is effectively fixed to the user’s hand, but without requiring them to grip it with their fingers. They do not need to do anything to hold the broom when the system is worn. Once the broom is secured they only need to move their wrist and arms to sweep. They can apply a small force with their other hand to properly orient the broom, or it can be locked in place dependent on the user’s needs. We are hoping that less reliance on fine motor skills will increase the ease at which our clients are able to sweep using a conventional broom.


As a team, we decided to work on a project that would allow us to develop an effective solution for a 66-year-old man facing several disabilities. Our client has a hearing impairment, severe cardiomyopathy, along with limited mobility. A necessary surgical procedure was needed to place a Left Ventricular Assist Device in order to compensate for his heart disease.

The LVAD works by taking over the pumping action of the left ventricle, which in this case has been damaged due to heart disease. During the day, the LVAD functions by means of external batteries, and by a large plug-in module at night. In case of a power failure, the large plug-in module is designed to notify the user via an alarm. Given that our client is also hearing impaired, a power failure occurring during the night would not allow him to hear the alarms, as he is unable to wear a hearing aid while sleeping. By discussing the following problem as a team, we were able to come up with a possible solution to meet our client’s needs.

Our solution includes creating a device that is able to pick up the alarm’s sound - in the case that a power failure were to occur during the night - and convert it into a vibration, which our client would be able to sense. The vibration would therefore wake up the client and notify him of the power failure. In order to ensure that the client will sense the vibration, we believe that the device should be placed under his pillow, given that this would be the most sensible placement due to the severity of the problem if power failure were to occur.


Visual impairment is an issue that affects millions of people worldwide and over half a million in Canada. With the help of technology, white-canes have recently been innovated for these individuals, which provide sensory input through the cane to the user based on sound and vibration.

The purpose of our team was to improve the current designs to afford active cane users the mobility to travel safely, efficiently and independently within any chosen environment. For this purpose, our team is designing a cane to detect any obstacles on the road. This cane will include features such as; an emergency button to notify surrounding people if help is needed, inform the user about the current time resulting in the user being able to travel, and communicate more confidently. 


For many months, team Eye Puck has been meeting, researching, and working on the most innovative design for an audible hockey puck to suit the needs of the visually impaired. The Eye Puck is designed to overcome the obstacles that many visually impaired players face. This innovative design currently includes:

  • Wireless charging mechanisms  
  • Wireless auditory control from the bench
  • Speed detection to adjust sound projection
  • Minimized Doppler effect
  • Unidirectional sound projection

Currently the team of six engineers are in their testing and prototyping phase. Tetra Ryerson is very pleased to take on this project brought to us by Steve Pollard, a remarkable community member for those with visual impairments. We hope to proudly present a functioning Eye Puck to the visually impaired community.

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