Design of Laptray Easel for Disabled

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WPI, MQP, Assistive, Technology, Resource, Center, ATRC, Cerebral, Palsy, Wheelchair, Laptray


The goal of this MQP was to design an integrated easel and tray system for a student at the Massachusetts Hospital School who uses a wheelchair and has cerebral palsy. The student has uncontrollable muscle activity in his arms, legs, and trunk, and therefore, he is secured in his wheelchair with straps. He uses a picture board on his laptray to communicate with others through eye movements and he uses an easel attached to the laptray in order to hold books, magazines, and papers that he needs to read. The system that the student was using involved an easel mounted on tracks on the side of the tray. Due to the linkage between the two components, the system obscured his view of others and was only stable in one position. The student was in need of a laptray and easel system with a two-degree of freedom linkage, allowing for the easel to be stored underneath the laptray when not in use. The MQP team developed a system involving two gears to allow for the rotation of the easel around the horizontal and vertical axes, as well as for the movement of the easel toward and away from the user. Another gear mechanism allowed for the easel to be locked into place after being positioned correctly. The design team evaluated the final design by testing for any potential failure of the device, especially focusing their efforts on ensuring the proper operation of the locking mechanism. They also tested the system to ensure that it would withstand appropriate loads, that it was easily adjustable, and that it would stow under the laptray. Results of the testing showed that the device was easy to adjust and manipulate and that it improved the range of vision for the user due to the storage capabilities of the easel under the laptray.

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