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We’ve lost something important in the age of screens. 3D printers can bring it back.

Northeastern, Harvard Library, the Boston Public Library, and the Perkins School for the Blind are hosting an exhibition titled "Touch This Page" that celebrates the multi-sensory experiences of reading. The exhibit features 3D printed replicas of early 19th and 20th century texts designed for readers who are visually impaired. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

It was a long-running tradition in the 19th and 20th centuries. Cigar factories in Florida would bring in a reader, or lector, to read the news aloud to workers as they plied their meticulous craft.

The closest thing we have now to the oral tradition of reading are podcasts and storytime in school, says Sari Altschuler, an assistant professor of English at Northeastern.

She argues that the mass digitization of books, magazines, and other print materials has transformed our relationship with texts. We miss out on the opportunity to learn through touch, she said, when we eschew paper books and other print forms for electronic books that can be read on digital devices.

“People tend to think about reading as a visual activity even though they’re processing it through a variety of senses,” she says. “But we learn through multiple senses, not just the visual.”

Read the full story on News at Northeastern. 

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