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Handizap was founded by Josh Smith, a mechanical engineer from Virginia Tech, in March of 2015. On August 23,2014, Josh dove into a wave at Virginia Beach, hitting his head on a sandbar. He sustained a burst fracture of his C-5 vertebrae which damaged his spinal cord. Instantly he became a C-6 quadriplegic. Josh rehabbed at Shepherd Center in Atlanta, GA for over four months. Here is a picture of Josh with his parents, medical staff, and therapists, graduating from Shepherd’s inpatient “Boot Camp” program.


Graduating from Shepherd’s inpatient program

While in rehab, Josh envisioned the idea of the Sixth Digit. Josh’s first prototype was made from a ring pop and an eraser. His invention created a lot of interest and support from his physiatrist, Dr. Anna Elmers, his occupational therapist, Rebecca Thomasson, as well as other medical staff and patients. Josh soon realized others who had limited hand function could benefit from the Sixth Digit. Thus he decided to patent and manufacture his invention. Here is a picture of his first prototype.


The original Sixth Digit

After returning home to Richmond, VA, Josh teamed up with his high school friend, Jared Rhodes. Jared attended BYU where he received a degree in genetics and biotechnology with a minor in business management. Jared is the COO of Handizap. Together they launched a Kickstarter to help raise funds for the production of the Sixth Digit. The Sixth Digit is currently the only adjustable ring stylus in the world! The possibilities for different tips and attachments for the Sixth Digit are endless. Here is a picture of Josh and Jared headed to meet with a manufacturer.


Josh founded Handizap to market the Sixth Digit and future inventions as well as other products to help improve the lives of those living with disabilities. If you have an idea of a product that can help others let us know. We would love to partner with you and possibly help make your idea a reality!


“Stop wishing and start doing.”

      –     Josh


How do you use the Sixth Digit Effectively?


  1. Sam January 9, 2016 at 6:20 PM #

    I am an able bodied man. I’m an avid snowboarder. I have interest in the touchscreen stud on the end of your stylus. I would like to order just that part to attach to my snowboard glove. The current solution is a capacitative goo that ablates easily. Also presents accuracy challenges. Maybe there’s a market in there for you. If so, a low pro stud that screws through or rivets on would be legit. In the means, i could certainly use your capacitative studs as is for knuckle mounting. Any Qs? 360.880.0005.



  1. The Sixth Digit Stylus - Assistive Technology at Easter Seals Crossroads - September 10, 2015

    […] Smith is a mechanical engineer from Virginia Tech and is also the founder of Handizap.  Handizap’s goal is to “create products to help make the lives of the disabled a […]

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