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Page-turning robot allows Sask. woman with multiple sclerosis to reclaim love of reading

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Turning the pages of a book is a skill many people take for granted, but for Terri Sleeva, it’s a form of independence she recently reclaimed thanks to Daniel Molder and his page turning robot.

“I keep buying books and physical books and I would love to be able to read them, but asking my husband to turn pages is getting monotonous,” she said.

Sleeva was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1984, which has gradually affected her ability enjoy one of her favourite past times – reading.

The whole process came about thanks to the Tetra Society, an organization that helps people with mobility issues gain back the ability to do what they love in spite of their physical limitations.

Molder is the brains behind the robot and he explained that the process of building it was a very rewarding one.

“Right off the bat she mentioned that she wanted a page turner, and I was extremely interested in that,” he explained. “I was thinking ‘Wow that sounds like a lot of fun and the brain started working and I started thinking about ways to make it happen.’”

Molder’s creation works by using suction to lift up the page and then a wheel to turn it.

The helping hand can be controlled either by voice activation, or a manual toggle which Sleeva can use her chin to maneuver.

“I had many people try and make something – then it was miraculous,” she said. “Dan Molder came into my life.”

Sleeva has had the machine for just over a month and has been enjoying every single page she gets to turn.

The duo both credit the Tetra Society for not only helping people regain independence but also fostering a friendship.

“I realize that for me it’s so easy, but I take it for granted,” Molder said.

“But for someone who can’t, it really can be world changing.”

The Tetra Society helped countless individuals as Sleeva explained. While the not-for-profit has a long history of helping individuals in need – organizers hope to improve their outreach and get the word out to both for those seeking mobility assistance and for anyone with the skills to help.

“I want to make everyone feel that there is independence,” Sleeva said. “You can do things no matter the limitations.”

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