For many, reading is a relaxing and enjoyable way to spend time. However, some older persons and persons with upper body impairments may find reading to be a strenuous activity rather than one of leisure. Holding a book open can put unnecessary strain on the hands, arms back, and shoulders. Turning the pages of a book or magazine can be difficult for those with poor dexterity or a loss of sensation in the fingers. Persons with these impairments may become discouraged and may not find reading to be as enjoyable as it once was. Devices like book holders and page-turners can help alleviate reading problems and make reading more comfortable.
As the name implies, a book holder allows a person to read without actually holding the book. This is a relatively simple device, made of a tilted board with something to hold the book open. It can prove to be very helpful for persons with upper mobility impairments, poor hand strength, or limited dexterity. Book holders are designed to hold books at an angle that is comfortable for reading. Most can hold books or magazines of any size or thickness. Page controllers, such as pegs or clips, which are included on most book holders, help to keep a book open and prevent the unwanted turning of the pages.
For persons who are recovering from surgery of an injury, or who have a condition that forces them to lie flat most or all of the time, a bed reader can still allow them to read comfortably. A bed reader is simply a propped-up piece of clear plexiglass. The user can place a book or magazine face down on it, and then lie under the device. This way, the individual can still read while lying flat on his or her back and not have to strain the arms by holding up reading material.
Newspapers can be large and cumbersome, and some persons may find it difficult to hold a newspaper open and turn the thin pages. A newspaper holder can help these persons read a newspaper more comfortably. This device is made up of a series of flat wood or plastic strips that support the edges of the news paper and a center clip that holds the top of the newspaper to prevent it from coming apart. Most heavy base for stability. This is a convenient and practical device for persons who may have difficulty handling a newspaper.
Persons with poor dexterity or limited sensation in their fingers may find that constantly turning pages becomes strenuous. A page-turner can make turning pages easier. Most page-turners consist of a piece of plastic that fits around the hand and an attached rod with a rubber tip or suction cup on the end. The user can then turn the pages of a book or magazine without having to separate pieces of paper with his or her fingers.
An automatic page-turner attaches to the pages of books, magazines, or other bound reading materials and turns them when the user activates a switch. These devices, however, tend to be very expensive. Persons with limited upper body movement may find an automatic page-turner useful because they require minimal body movement from the user. A variety of switches can be used with this kind of device and the type of switch that is right for you depend on your individual needs. Persons who do have some degree of upper body movement may find a button or lever switch to be best. A foot pedal switch can be used by persons who would rather control the turning of pages with their feet. Persons with extreme mobility limitations may find a sip-and-puff switch or chin switch to be more effective. A sip-and-puff switch is activated by breathing in or out of a small tube whereas a chin switch rests on the neck and works from the touch of the user’s chin.
Persons with various upper body impairments may find that reading requires more effort than they are willing or able to exert. These persons can benefit greatly from book holders and page-turners. The devices described above can make reading more comfortable and enjoyable by reducing the amount of strength and dexterity needed to hold a book, magazine, or other reading material.
Project LINK is a free, national information service that mails catalogs and other product information from companies that make or sell helpful products. Since no names or addresses are released to companies, the confidentiality of the consumer is protected. To join Project LINK, call (voice/TTY) (800) 628-2281 or write to:
Center for Assistive Technology/UB
515 Kimball Tower
Buffalo, New York, 14214
The Rehabilitation Engineering Research center on Aging offers a number of videos, pamphlets, and articles, some directed at health care professionals and others designed for consumers. To receive a free product catalog, call (voice/TTY) (800) 628-2281
Touch Turner makes several different models of page-turners. For information, call (206) 252-1541, or write to:
443 view Ridge Drive
Everett, Washington 98203
Maddak sells several different book holders and page-turners. For a catalog, call (201) 628-7600, or write to:
Pequannock, New Jersey 07440-1993
Sammons Preston sells many assistive devices, including book holders, newspaper holders, and page-turners. For a catalog, call (800) 323-5547, or write to:
PO Box 5071
Bolingbrook, Illinois 60440-5071
Maxi-Aids sells book holders and other assistive devices. For a catalog, call (800) 522-6294 or (TTY) (516) 752-0738, or write to:
PO Box 3209
Farmingdale, New York 11735
Smith & Nephew sell book holders and other assistive devices. Call (800) 558-8633 for a catalog, or write to:
Smith & Nephew, Inc.
One Quality Drive, PO Box 1005
Germantown, WI 53022-8205