BOULDER - For many children across America, picture books are the gateway to a literary world of imagination. But, if you can't see the picture books?
"If you can't see the pictures, sometimes it's like your missing out a little bit, I guess," Maddie Stallman, visually impaired 12-year-old, said.
That's why University of Colorado Assistant Professor Tom Yeh and his team created the Children's Tactile Book Project. They want to use the growing field of 3D printing to create picture books that blind children can experience.
"Imagine all those books become accessible to you to choose from," Yeh said.
The first 3D book Yeh created was the classic "Goodnight, Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown.
Yeh says the goal is to create a program that allows parents to take pictures of of the books that will be transformed into a tactile version by a 3D printer.
"It's actually a lot harder than we thought, Yeh said.
Yeh is working with the Anchor Center for Blind Children in Denver on this project.
"That's helping their tactile memory for the story," JC Greeley, founding teacher of the Anchor Center, said. "It's a real compensation for what other kids do visually."
Yeh says the hope is that as 3D printers became more available to the general public in the future, he wants to create programs they can use so parents like Nicole Pemberton can re-create their own 3D books for their visually impaired children.
"Giving them something that's more enjoyable than just bumps on a page is going to make them more interested in reading in general," Pemberton said.
Stallman graduated from the Anchor Center with limited access to tactile picture books when she was younger. She says the prototype printed pages of "Goodnight, Moon" are effective.
"I think it was pretty cool," Maddie said.
Yeh knows he and his research team have a long way to go. But, he believes this can revolutionize reading for blind children.
"I hope we will see this in five years," Yeh said.
(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)