by Ned Stoller Ned Stoller


Yes, you can still mow your grass even if paralyzed, have a leg amputation, stroke, MS or other disabling condition!  Mowing your own lawn can save you money and provide healthy outdoor activity.  Lawncare or groundskeeping can be an enterprise for a worker with leg and mobility impairments. Many of the same adaptations for farm equipment apply to lawncare equipment.  It comes down to accessible transportation & trailering, access to the operator’s station, and access to the controls. 

We will focus on hand control levers.  Once on the equipment, hand control levers can be used to operate foot pedals for workers with paralyzed legs or other limitations such as those caused by stroke, MS, MD or severe arthritis.  Levers bolted onto foot pedals allow workers with leg impairments to control equipment brakes, hydrostat or clutch by hand. Pull with your arm instead of push with your leg. Give arthritic knees and hips a break by using a hand control alternative. Most equipment brakes and clutch are controlled by foot pedals so they can not be operated by workers with leg impairments.

 Typical foot controlled functions on riding lawnmowers are the brakes, forward/reverse pedals and the clutch, with the forward/reverse pedal being most frequently used.  Most forward/reverse pedals are connected to the same linkage under the mower frame.  This allows both forward and reverse motions to be controlled by a single lever clamped onto the FORWARD pedal.  The lever is pushed forward for forward motion, and pulled back for backward motion.  The greatest concerns when installing hand levers are:


             1.  Ease of operation.  Make sure the driver can reach and push/pull the lever safely!

             2.  Interference.  Make sure the hand lever does not bump the steering wheel or brake.

             3.  Permanent modifications.  Clamp lever onto existing pedals without drilling or cutting.

 The clutch is less common on newer mowers because they have hydrostatic transmissions and use a forward/reverse lever to control oil flow instead of a clutch for shifting manual gears.  Brakes are used more as an emergency or safety function than a regular control for operation.  On older machines the clutch and brake might need to be operated at the same time to stop forward momentum.  In such situations the operator would need to shift into neutral, then apply the brakes.



Hand Control Levers from require two steps for installation. The levers are delivered un-bent (straight) with a bolt-on socket. There is seldom need for permanent modification to the foot pedal. The levers often need shaped for convenience of use by specific equipment operators.

First, the socket clamps onto the shank or face of the foot pedals with four bolts. You will need a 7/16″ wrench to do this.  The lever then slides into the socket and is secured with a set screw if desired. The lever can be easily removed from the socket for operators using the foot pedals. Removing the lever also opens more space for accessing the seat. 

Second, the straight lever needs to be shaped specifically for the operator and machine it will be used on.  Hand Control Levers must be easily pushed or pulled by the operator without bumping the steering wheel or other objects.  To shape the lever, have the operator sit in the seat and grasp the Lever.  Mark where bends are needed, and shape the lever with a tubing bender or heat and bend with a torch.  After the lever is cooled, slide it back into the socket and make sure the operator can comfortably reach the lever and move it without interference. 

The hand levers should be installed so that pulling the clutch lever disengages the clutch. The levers should be heated and shaped to maximize the ease with which the worker can reach and operate the levers.  Disability Work Tools will custom shape the lever for a specific equipment pedal for $125.


DisabilityWorkTools will custom bend levers for a specific riding lawnmower.  To do this, we will need to know the make, model and year of the lawnmower.  We will also need to understand the abilities of the person who will be driving the lawnmower and the length of their arm from the shoulder to the fist.  We will locate a mower with the same kind of controls in our location, then measure and bend and fabricate the clamp and lever accordingly.  Some of the mowers we have custom designed levers for include John Deere X540 and X475; Huskee; MTD; Craftsman; and we can do whatever type of mower you drive!