Build a Better Book at the University of Colorado - Boulder, hosted its pilot Engineering and Design Teen Summer Internship in summer 2022. Interns in the four-week program completed 30-35 hours per week, for a total of approximately 120 hours. Students designed and built tactile and accessible books and games for blind and low vision clients at the Anchor School for the Blind, Boulder Valley School District, Douglas County School District, and St. Joseph's School for the Blind.


The Engineering and Design Internship was open to high school students entering 10-12 grade. Students from regional high schools in the Denver-Boulder area submitted an application and teacher reference. Twelve students were accepted and supported with a stipend for completing the program and a regional bus pass to cover transportation.

Client-centered Design:

TVIs from partner organizations provided client profiles and project ideas for intern design projects. Client profiles included pre-school/kindergarten children wiith cortical visual impairment (CVI) and mobility challenges, and middle and high school students with blindness and low vision. Working in teams of 2-3 students, interns were assigned a client and challenged to design and create a working product which would be donated to the school. Projects included:

  • Team One: Interactive Storyboard for CVI based on The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper and Goldilocks and the Three Bears
  • Team Two: Interactive Numbers Board for CVI for learning numbers 1-10
  • Team Three: CVI Pegboard Book based on The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • Team Four: Interactive Tactile Wordle game for blind and low vision accessibility

Program Structure:

Through field trips, guest instructors, and hands-on learning, students gained an understanding of 

  • Universal Design principles and empathy-driven design, Accessibility tools and designing for disabilities, Tactile and multi-modal learning styles
    • Workshop with tactile artist Ann Cunningham
    • Field trip to Creative Tech Lab/ Idea Forge on incorporating technology and sensory learning
    • Norlin Library Special Collections - alternative book formats
  • Maker Technologies such as 3D modeling and printing, sound, computer programming, laser cutters
    • Hands-on workshops and use of makerspace at Discovery Learning Center
    • 3D design and printing
    • Laser cutter design and cutting with wood, acrylic, and task board
    • Cricut design instruction and creation of high contrast and tactile book design
    • Arduino, Microbit, and Makerbit instruction and implementation for adding sound and lights
    • Coding for Arduino, Microbit, and GameMaker 
  • Characteristics of blindness, vision impairments, and other disabilities
    • Independent research on CVI, blindness, and low vision
    • Field trip to Colorado Center for Disabilities and conversation with blind and low vision clients
    • Field trip to CU Office of Accessibility and Alternate Format Production Lab
  • Job skills and designing for a specific client
    • Documentation of project progress via Google sites
    • Interviews and meetings with TVIs and student clients for feedback
    • Career exploration with tours of various CU engineering departments and labs
    • Info session with the BOLD center (Broadening Opportunity Through Leadership and Diversity) at CU
    • Final showcase presentation of projects to the public at CU Science Discovery's High School Summer STEM Expo