Reader’s Assistive Device

Designers:  Tina Chang, Xander Chen and Michele Nguyen
Client Coordinator: Leslie Lerea, Director, UNC SPIRE program
Supervising Professors: Richard Goldberg and Kevin Caves

Our client is a post-doctoral researcher with Friedrich’s Ataxia. She has a tendency to skip lines when she reads and has difficulty turning pages. The goal of this project was to assist her in making reading more comfortable.  We achieved this goal by constructing a device with an adjustable bookstand, an electronic masking device, and a manual page turner.  The device shows only three lines of text while blocking out the rest, helping client focus on what she is reading. It also makes turning pages less strenuous. Overall, this novel device gives our client the ability to read more quickly and comfortably.

How this project helped
The Reader’s Assistive Device allows our client to read more comfortably and efficiently, enhancing the progress of her research and allowing her to teach a class with less assistance. The client was excited that she could easily control the up and down movements of the masking device simply by pushing or pulling the joystick.

The Reader’s Assistive Device (Figure 1) includes a bookstand, masking device, and page turner.
The bookstand was built from ½” thick oak, with rubber grips added to the base.  It provides easy angle adjustment and folds for storage.  An accessory LED light provides even illumination of the text with no glare.

The masking device uses a clear Lexan sheet, which lays over the page to weigh down the paper and acts as the support and foundation for the mask. The slotted mask was fashioned from black Lexan, with vertical movement regulated by metal guides attached to the edges of the clear sheet.  A DC gear motor with rack and pinion mechanism moves the mask vertically, controlled by a two-way joystick.  6 D-type batteries power the 9V motor. The masking device is attached to the bookstand using a drawer slide, which enables the masking device to be moved laterally to cover both pages.

The manual page turner consists of a spring with a sponge end, mounted to the masking device.  The spring is covered with black Tygon tubing for safety and aesthetics.  Post-it adhesive is applied onto the sponge using the roller applicator, enabling about 30 successful cycles of turning per application. To turn a page, the client presses down on the page turner spring, then grips the double handlebar and slides the masking device laterally.  At the end of the lateral movement, the pressure on the spring is released and the page flips over. Terminal rollers at the ends of the bookstand ensure that the masking device does not slide off the bookstand, and facilitate sliding back in the other direction.

Figure 2 shows the client with the Reader’s Assistive Device. Cost of parts was about $330.

Figure 2.  Client using the device.

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