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Design Challenge

For this project, we were tasked with designing a product and accompanying digital app to tackle an unmet educational need.

My Role

Project Manager

Product Designer

3D Modeler


Spring 2024




Arthur Jensen

Michelle Cheng

Ryn Rangel



Fusion 360


Children aged 5-7 with auditory dyslexia have difficulty processing and distinguishing sounds. There are limited education platforms that help to distinguish phonemic sounds.


Design an interactive, engaging product and digital app interface to teach children phonemic sounds and ensure they master them.

Competitive Research

Looking at current educational products for children aged 5-7, there are limited solutions focused on teaching phonemic sounds and catering to the needs of those with auditory dyslexia.



To further understand the needs of children with dyslexia in a learning environment, we researched different phonic learning structures and the variety of dyslexia. We also conducted interviews with a cognitive psychologist and an elementary teacher of special needs children to discover specific challenges and learning methods.

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Teacher Interviews
Numerous educators lack the necessary resources to effectively support neuro-divergent students in their learning journeys.

Types of Dyslexia
Students with different types of dyslexia, such as Auditory (Phonological) Dyslexia, Visual Dyslexia, and Mixed Dyslexia.

Structured Synthetic Phonics (SSP)
Phonics instruction progresses through stages from basic letter-sound recognition to blending, decoding, and ultimately fluent reading.


Initial Ideation

We began with initial product sketches to explore what our product could potentially be. We went through several concepts, including a toy box filled with multi-sensory items, a carrying case designed to accommodate a tablet, interactive stylus, and tactile items, and finally, die-cut cards featuring tactile elements that could be scanned digitally.

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Sensory Phonics Toybox

Carrying Case with Storage

Die-Cut Cards with Textures

Final Concept

After learning that neuro-divergent children learn best with a blend of visual, tactile and auditory learning experiences, we decided to incorporate this into our overall user-experience and create a comprehensive solution that consists of a tactile book, an interactive pen, and a digital app.

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Students can point their pen at any letter or image within the book, and the pen will read the content aloud through the use of microscopic dots that enable the pen's sensors to detect patterns.

Product Sketches + Renders

We fleshed out the audio and sensor features of the interactive pen through iterative sketches and renders. Our interactive pen will be the main instrument children use to interact with both the book and the digital app with a stylus and built-in camera sensor at the tip of the pen.

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Physical Models

We've designed an 8 by 10" book that walks students through 7 distinctive phonic sounds with a farm theme. Each page features sensory textures like fur, feathers, and cotton to help engage the student's tactile senses.  

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Wireframing Solutions

We started building out the book layout where students would learn the phonic sounds and the digital app interface where students would review the sounds that they learned in their book through fun games and an interactive storyline.

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Accessible Design System

For our design system, we researched fonts that would be easy to read for children with dyslexia which includes sans serif fonts with larger inter-letter tracking and left aligned text makes it easier for users to find the start and end of each sentence.

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Final App Design

Structured Synthetic Phonics

Using the SSP research, we divided each stage of Phonic Sounds into individual Lessons.

We aimed to add gamification to the digital app review by turning each phonic sound lesson into its own level within a story quest.

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Repetition Training

Before the testing phase, Huey guides the user through a brief review of the phonics taught in the book.

Auditory Learning

Our audio feature in the app helps to review and test children's pronunciation, enhancing their auditory learning experience.

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Positive Reinforcement

We aimed to motivate students in their phonics review by incorporating a progress bar and gradually revealing a painting image as they complete each stage.


Usability Testing

We reviewed our app with peers aged 20-25 with dyslexia, however, if given more time, we'd conduct usability testing with children with dyslexia to gain a deeper understanding of how they interact with our products and whether the learning model assists with their needs.

Scalability & Cost

After reviewing feedback, we found that there were some concerns with the cost of the product especially if each book only contained one group of phonics and users would need to have six books to learn the entire set. If this were a product to be used in a classroom or private tutor, the cost of the complete set would need to be within budget. We could consider how to condense the six phonic stages into two to three books.

Child-Safe Product

From our heuristic evaluation, we found that the pen design could be improved through several factors. The sharp stylus tip of the pen was a potential concern and could be redesigned with a safer feature. We found that children 5-7 liked to bite their pens, so the end of the pen could also be designed to be bite-proof or fun to engage with.

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