DAISY Reader Aid - Design for [every]one

Introduction: DAISY Reader Aid - Design for [every]one

The DAISY reader aid is a cover for an existing DAISY reader (PTN 1) made by Marieke Maertens and Fay de Haan for the course Cocreation at Ghent University, with help from Elien Vanden Bussche, student occupational therapy at HoWest.

A DAISY reader reads books / newspapers / magazines aloud and is designed specifically for the visually impaired. However, people who also struggle with motoric problems can have a difficult time finding & operating the small buttons. Our client deals with parkinson and because of this could not use his DIASY reader independently. On request of the home for eldery people where he lives, we came up with a solution that allows him to start and pause his CD without outside help.

The user uses his entire hand to roll the rolling pin. When the white flaps on the rolling pin move over the aluminium part that is attached to the DAISY reader, the part will press the exsisting button, pausing or starting the CD.

We hope this instructable can help others with similar problems regain some independence in their lives.

This DAISY reader aid is made specifically for the Plextalk PTN-1. If you use another model, be sure to check the dimensions and if necessary, change them to fit your model. The PDF-file for the cover can be modified using adobe Illustrator.

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Step 1: Step 1 - Materials & Tools

Before we can start making the aid, we have to gather all the necessary materials & tools.


  • plywood 450x600x5mm
  • rolling pin, length of 21 cm,diameter of 5 cm
  • scraps of wood (used to make the parts to help saw the grooves in the rolling pin)
  • scraps of PE plate or another similarly flexible material (used to make the flaps on the rolling pin)
  • scraps of alu sheet (used to make the piece over the button)
  • dubbelsided tape
  • wood glue
  • clear varnish
  • some nails
  • non-skid fabric


  • laser cutter (or access to one)
  • saw
  • vise & clamp
  • cutter knife
  • sanding paper

Step 2: Step 2 : Lasercut Pieces & Assemble Cover

The first thing we're gonna make is the cover itself, which holds the DAISY reader and the rolling pin. For the cover, we have to lasercut all the pieces, assemble them and glue them together. You can find the lasercut file PDF as an attachement and the photographs show in which order to attach & glue the different pieces together.


  1. Lasercut the pieces & remove them from the sheet
  2. Take the bottom plate and attach the divider in its appropriate slots
  3. Attach the front and back plate (in this prototype we forgot to leave a hole for the powercord so we needed make it afterwards, but that problem has been fixed in the current PDF)
  4. Assemble & attach the cd holder (first the sides, then de top plate)
  5. Attach the sides of the cover
  6. Attach the front piece of wood that will support the ramp to the sides & the cd holder
  7. Use a clamp to hold everything in place while the glue dries (optional, we needed the clamp because our wood was warped slightly so the sides didn't stay in place on their own. If you use a straight piece of plywood & fast drying wood glue, you can skip this step)

  8. Lastly, cut out a piece of the non-skid fabric the size of the bottom & glue it to the bottom

removeable ramp

The ramp is NOT glued to the sides, because we want it to be removeable to be able to access the cd holder. To make the ramp sturdy, we need to glue a long piece of wood to the underside of the ramp just below the recess (see picture). (We used an extra piece of wood afterwards to do this, but for you this piece is included in the current PDF file).

Step 3: Step 3 : Make Grooves in Rolling Pin

Next up is preparing the rolling pin. In order to be able to attach the flaps that will slide over the aluminium, we need to make 4 grooves in the rolling pin. After a few tries in figuring out how to best do this (it is not so easy to use a saw on a round, moveable object) we found the best way to go about this, which we will explain below.

Making the attachments

To prevent the saw from slipping off the round surface of the rolling pin, we made attachments to help guide the saw over the surface. These attachments are basically squared pieces of wood that are positioned at either end of the rolling pin & have a groove in them in which the saw can fit.

  1. Take 2 squared pieces of scrap wood (not much bigger than 3x5cm)
  2. Cut out half a circle at one side of each of the pieces of wood (in the diameter of the handle of the rolling pin)
  3. On the opposite ends, cut out a groove for the saw. Make sure the groove is big enough so that the saw can glide easily in between.

Sawing the rolling pin

Now we can start making the actual grooves.

  1. Divide the rolling pin in four & mark it off at both sides of the rolling pin
  2. Fix the rolling pin on a vise so it can't move. Make sure the first mark for the grooves is pointed upwards (we used a piece of wood underneath to steady the rolling pin & make it sit above the edges of the vise & a piece of the non-skid fabric to keep it into place better)
  3. Fix the attachments to the rolling with nails, aligning them with the marks at both sides
  4. Saw the groove, using the attachments as help with a depth of at least 3 mm.
  5. Remove the attachments, turn the rolling pin to the next marked spot & repeat

Step 4: Step 4 : Varnish Cover & Rolling Pin

We want to protect the wood in order to make it last longer & make it easier to clean. Therefore we varnish all the wood pieces (the cover, ramp & rolling pin). We used a clear coating spray that dries fast.

  1. Put the cover, the ramp & the rolling pin on a cardboard plate to protect the ground underneath
  2. Spray one layer evenly from about 15cm high onto the sides & top of the cover & one side of the ramp & rolling pin (we sprayed the wood after we attached the flaps to the rolling pin, that's why the flaps are already present in the pictures)
  3. Wait several minutes before adding a second layer
  4. Repeat at least 5 times (or as many times as specified on the can)
  5. Wait 2 hours (or as long as it takes the varnish to dry) before turning the cover, ramp & rolling pin over & spraying the other side of all pieces

Step 5: Step 5 : Make Flaps

The flaps are made out of polystyreen. You can use any flexible plastic. The size of this flap depends of the height bewteen de roll and the aluminium.

  1. Start with a flap of 3x2cm
  2. Round the corners using your cutter knife
  3. Use the sandpaper to eliminate any sharp edges
  4. Repeat 4 times to make 4 flaps

Step 6: Step 6 : Make the Add-on in Aluminium

We used aluminium for the add-on because it is easy to mold into shape while still being strong enough to keep it shape when in use.

  1. Take a piece of aluminium sheet. The thickness doesn't matter as long as you can bend it into shape.
  2. Cut it into a strip of approximately 3cm wide (as wide as the DAISY reader button)
  3. Bend the aluminium into roughly the shape of the number 2 (as shown in the picture
  4. Attach the add-on to the DAISY reader using dubble sided tape (the dubble sided tape is attached to the part of the add-on that is sitting on the DAISY reader, not on the button itself)

Step 7: Step 7: Assemble and Finish the DAISY Aid

This step may require a little bit of trial and error because a tiny change in folding the aluminium or the depth of the grooves can affect the way the flaps work. Normally it should work out fairly well from the beginning if you followed the previous steps correctly, but a little bit of fiddling might still be necessary.

  1. Place the DAISY reader inside the cover & check taht the add-on fits through the recess in the ramp (adjust the alu strip if it's too wide)
  2. Attach the flaps to the rolling pin in the required spots (use the recess in the ramp as a guide, mount the rolling pin on the cover & test out the flaps)
  3. Adjust the flaps until you get the desired effect: the flaps should be long enough so they touch the add-on (and can press the button) but short enough that it doesn't require much force to move them over the add-on. Do this by cutting small slices off the flaps until they work smoothly.
  4. mount the ramp on the cover & you are done!

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    2 Discussions


    4 years ago

    Very nice!

    Fay de Haan
    Fay de Haan

    Reply 4 years ago

    thank you :)