Team Stacy: Reading Without Hinderance

This semester I, an occupational therapy student, alongside a group of MIT engineering students, got together to help our client Stacy overcome her reading barriers. Stacy is currently a third year Harvard Medical student, who was diagnosed with dyslexia this past year.

Often times when we hear that someone is a “Harvard” student, we assume that they are without flaws, up on a pedestal with no need for additional support in almost all aspects of life. However, my experience with Stacy has opened my eyes to the vulnerability of us as human beings. Stacy is an intelligent, hardworking individual, and with great aspirations to help patients attain a life without sickness. But what would it feel like to be a doctor without the ability to read clearly and or understand material? These were some of the growing concerns Stacy had shared with me during our first meeting.

Her questions set the tone for our team and served as the foundation to create a web-extension that best fit Stacy’s needs. Our team met every Saturday morning and worked to see things from her perspective to ensure that the end product would be customized to her needs.

The process of understanding a disability from a second hand point of view has been a difficult and grueling process. With weekly meetings and trials, we continuously recorded feedback and adjusted the web extension according to the response from Stacey. When we felt that our prototype would be stellar, we realized that there were many adjustments that needed to be made along the way. However, as the semester draws to an end, I feel that our team has come to realize the importance in understanding how different professionals can come together to create a patient driven product that can help individuals of all needs.

Many times as an OT I have felt that other professions have constantly overlooked the abilities and know-hows of an occupational therapist. However, this experience has helped me realize that just as the human body, we all come with different skill sets that are invaluable when working as a team. Metaphorically, the engineers were the hands, as they created the web-extension from scratch. Our client, Stacy, was the heart, as she was the purpose, and the meaning behind the motivation to create this assistive device. And I, the OT, served as the mind, to understand the point of view of the engineers and to advocate for Stacy to ensure that her opinions were heard and met. It has been truly an amazing experience and honor to collaborate with such a diverse team.




Irene Joo

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