A common issue in educating the visually impaired is the inability to describe the movement of animals, even with present society's advanced technology. This mechanical spider was created in order to help the visually impaired experience the motion of a spider's legs without the danger of touching a real spider.
In today's society, the visual aspect of our lives is perhaps the most important, and vision is quite possibly the most used sense; however, it is often times unappreciated. Many humans suffer from blindness, and because of this, miss a grandiose part of everyday life, something that the new education system for the visually impaired cannot recreate. Often times people are educated visually, and learn through video clips of the relevant topic, such as PBS's documentaries of the world's different animals; however, this is not an option for the visually impaired, and the idea for our project was to find a way to communicate an animal's movement through touch and feel.
While visiting Perkins School for the Blind, Calli, Cian, and I immediately noticed that the school had a distinct lack of animal models that moved. Because our group was interested in the movement of a spider, we decided to create a mechanical arachnid that would help educate the students on the motion of the legs. Because the school already had models of several spiders, and due to our lack of experience with mechanics and programming, we decided that the actual body of the spider and the texture of our final product was much less important. We began by adding eight legs to a wooden peg board, but this model was very inefficient and did not accomplish any of the goals that we had in mind due to its inability to move on its own or mimic the motion of a spider. As we transitioned into cardboard, the project began to take shape, and while we ran into many problems, we were progressing at a very fast rate. The final iteration of our project consists of a 1/8 inch wood material, as well as several gears that are connected to a powerful motor which moves eight wooden legs that are shaped to that of an actual spider. There were many issues throughout the process, but the final product is much more functional than I ever expected, and I feel as though this project may actual help the visually impaired understand the movement of a spider.