Computer Generated Tactile Graphics
by Patrick Van Geem - TVI, TSBVI Outreach Department
Drawings produced by computers can turn into raised lined (embossed) graphics for the visually impaired. The most effective software applications for computer generated tactile graphics are those that contain scalable vector graphic (SVG) components, such as: lines, shapes, freeform drawing tools, beizer drawing tools, arrows, patterns, shapes fill, and line weight.
Software that contain these components are the best tools to use when producing computer generated tactile graphics. Third-party software containing mainly SVG tools are: Corel Draw, Adobe Illustrator, and Microsoft Office (Word and PowerPoint). These applications can be used to produce tactile graphic illustrations for science, math, geography, and business classes.
Drawing that look like a picture are called bitmaps. These drawing applications may not have SVG drawing components, however, they can be used to produce tactile graphics if a swell (encapsulated) paper device is doing the embossing. Swell paper devices are: Tactile Image Enhancer (TIE) or Picture-In-A-Flash (PIAF).
The problem with bitmap drawing applications is line weight. Tiger embossers can only determine bitmap line weight at 1 point even if the line on the drawing appears to be thicker. Scalable vector drawings lines can be determined as either being 1, 3 or 6 points by a Tiger embosser. Having these line thickness options can provide more opportunity to draw detailed tactile graphic illustrations.
Here are a few tutorials that show how you can produce computer generated line drawings for embossing either by Tiger embossers or swell paper devices.
Using Computer Drawing Tools-Microsoft 2007 A PowerPoint PDF version
Using QuickTac and Duxbury (warning QuickTac is still in beta, it may not always work right)
Tactile Graphics Resource List
Compiled by Judi Piscitello, TVI, COMS ( ), New York State School for the Blind Outreach Department; in conjunction with Monika K. Rieger, Ph.D. (), Adjunct Professor, Department of Geography, The University of Calgary; Terry Maggiore, TVI, COMS ( ), Massachusetts; and Robert S. Jaquiss, Jr., Executive director, VIEW International Foundation.
Adapted Graphics Listserv
The Adapted Graphics List's purpose is to discuss graphics designed for people who are blind or visually impaired. This includes the development of tactile graphics, and other types of information design for folks who are blind or visually impaired.
Adobe®Illustrator® Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) drawing software program to produce tactile graphics:
American Foundation for the Blind
11 Penn Plaza, Suite 300
New York, NY 10001
Tactile Graphics by Polly K. Edman
544-page paperback book,
ISBN 0—89128-194-0, $59.95
A wide variety of clay, glazes, modeling clay, other craft supplies and pottery equipment.
American Printing House for the Blind, Inc. (APH)
1839 Frankfort Avenue
Louisville, KY 40206-0085
- All APH Tractile graphics information: Aluminum Diagramming Foil, Tactile Graphics Guidelines, Diagram Kits, Swail Dot Inverter, The Good Tactile Graphic (video), QuickDraw Paper, etc.
- Teaching Touch
1758 Brackett Street
La Verne, CA 91750
(800) 331-3676 / Fax (909) 593-8001
Braillo, Basic-D, Everest-D and Dot& Print Printers and embossers; Duxbury and Megadots braille translation software; Thermoform machines (EZ-Form and Maxi-Form); Swell-form Graphics Machine and Swell-touch Paper; Paper, labeling and binders (Brailon, Compu.Dot, SwellTouch, Braillabels, Embossables, Poly Covers).
Researcher institute and supplier of polymer ink graphics, tactile diagrams & 3D printing
Contact: Jonathan Rowell
Produces illustrations, graphics and spatial representations adapted to touch recognition for people who are blind using a “Graphtact” prototype printer designed to produce standardized tactile designs. Braille Jymico also produces a computerized aluminum master to create Thermoform copies.
P2RD Portable Print Reading Device
2700 York Road,
Burlington, NC 27215-3398
( 800) 334-5551
Sells materials for science teachers including preserved specimens.
produce tactile graphics
by Sandra Lewis and Joan Tolla
270 Littleton Rd., Unit 6
Westford, MA 01886-3523 USA
Fax: (978) 692-7912
Duxbury and Megadots braille translators, LaTeX importer for graphics, Duxbury Braille Board: Easy-to-use translator for sign making.
1601 Northeast Braille Place
Jensen Beach, Florida 34957
(800) 777 DOTS / Fax: (800) 950 DOTS
Embossers: Romeo, Thomas, Marathon, Juliet, BookMaker, Braille Express, BraillePlace, PED-30;
Signmakers: PrestoBraille and KGS Braille Labeler;
Print/braille devices: TranSend and Gemini Print and Braille Embosser;
Braille translation software from Duxbury Systems;
Tactile Graphics Hardware & Software: ET-Graphix, Tactile Image Enhancer (TIE) and TIE Jr.; Thermo-Pen, Flexi-Paper™; Tactile Graphics Designer (TGD) Pro Software, TagPad from Repro-Tronics;
Raised line coloring books; labeling, marking, writing, and transcribing aids
Fingerprints books are original or retellings of classic tales, with quality tactile illustrations designed to be accessible and understandable to a blind person. Fingerprints' books are designed by volunteers and are available free of charge or at a reasonable cost. Contributions to production means are sought through institutions and other interest groups. When it is otherwise not possible to offer the books free of charge, the book will be similar in cost of a children's book.
Scientific equipment, supplies, and models
Model A Technology
2420 Van Landen Way
Modesto, California 95356
(209) 575-3445; fax: (209) 575-2750
A wide variety of construction sets, some very sophisticated, including pneumatic, robotic, and computer interface components.
Braille Blazer and VersaPoint Duo embossers
LaserLine Graphics, Digital Talking Books, Electronic Braille and Large Print, Random Electronic Access Documents (READ™).
14221 E 4th Ave, Suite 220
Aurora CO 80011
Phone (866) 340-3404/ Fax (303) 340-4404
Scientific Notebook and barcode scanning software and solutions
Perkins School for the Blind
175 North Beacon Street
Watertown, MA 02172-2790
(617) 924-3434 / FAX (617) 926-2027
Perkins Braillers, Tellatouch & Brailler Accessories, Brailling Slates, Slate Accessories, Braille Paper, Drawing & Measuring Devices (raised line drawing kits, protractors, compasses, tactile rulers, tracing wheels, and rubber pads
401 West Hickory Street
P.O. Box 2121
Fort Collins, Colorado 80522
(800) 289-9299; fax: (970) 484-1198
A variety of items including a large collection of raised relief maps, useful for showing the actual shape of land areas and are a valuable adjunct to Braille maps.
175 Mason Circle,
Concord, CA 94520
Phone (800) 722-3393/Fax (925) 681-4630
BrailleNote notetaker; Braille Star braille displays; Mountbatten Pro Braille Writer; Paragon, ET, Romeo and Juliet braille embossers; Duxbury Braille Translation software, Pictures in a Flash (PIAF) tactile graphics maker.
Educational materials to help totally blind learners understand the basics of tactile graphics
iFeelPixel™is a software application designed to create audio-tactile sensations based on image. Any pictures generated by your computer and being under your cursor position on screen are represented with a subjective audio-tactile sensation on an Immersion TouchSense device and a sound card. It's the first software that allows a user to feel the pixels on the screen with both haptic and auditory feedback.
Art History Through Touch and Soundbook with tactile graphics, Braille embossers, braille displays, braille labelers, braille paper, braille translation software, braille writers and braille marking products, Head Start Set of Books with Tactile Images and Braille,raised line drawing kit and polyester film sheets, Mimio Xi electronic whiteboard (diagrams can be sent to a Tiger Embosser), tactile maps, VTPlayer tactile device for Windows PCs
Braille and braille-based tactile graphics embossers and WinBraille braille editor
Tactile Visualization and Tactile Graphics
(*International Council on English Braille)
Coordinates research and writing guidelines for tactile graphics (site includes listserv subscription information)
Dr. Frances Aldrich
Reginald Phillips Research Programme
University of Sussex
Falmer, Brighton BN1 9QG, United Kingdom.
The new ViewPlus IVEO Technology is intended as a mainstream method for displaying graphical information that is universally accessible. The IVEO Viewer can be downloaded free from the ViewPlus web site, and is used with the IVEO hardware to make graphical information accessible to blind people. The Viewer permits a user to mouse-click on objects and hear labels read, identifying those objects. Any text can also be spoken by mouse-clicking. B lind users can print from the Viewer to any ViewPlus embosser to obtain a tactile copy of the graphic, place it on the IVEO Touchpad and use fingers to locate objects and text and mouse click to hear them. All spoken information can also be read with an on-line Braille display. IVEO documents are in Scalable Vector Graphic format. The IVEO Creator is used to import files from any Windows application or by scanning paper documents, make them accessible, and then save as IVEO SVG. Creator automatically makes all of the text accessible, so a blind user can gain access to many otherwise inaccessible documents without any assistance from a sighted person. If graphical object labels are essential, then a sighted person needs to click on objects to open a dialog box for adding labels and optional descriptive information.
400 Forbes Blvd., Unit3
So. San Francisco, CA 94080-2026
Tel: (650) 871-3940
Fax: (650) 871-394
(can be used to prepare technical & scientific documents with tactile graphics):
Audio & tactile interpretation of art works
19307 8th Avenue, Suite C
Poulsbo, WA 98370-7370
(877) 724-9673 / Fax: 360-394-6039
Scientific Notebook for mathematics graphics converted from LaTeX files with Duxbury’s LaTeX importer
Mapping for the Visually Impaired free downloadable .pdf and CorelDraw maps for education, mobility, transportation and tourism and free downloadable interactive audiotactile maps, Flash maps (needs a Flash reader, get it from Macromedia.com), SVG Research 1, SVG Research 2
Use the MathType equation editor to insert math into MS Word documents. Just click on the "export to math page" menu option in the MathType menu after selecting the MathML option. This gives a XML page that can then be read with any screen reader. Use Internet Explorer and the free MathPlayer plugin from Design Science, the same people who make MathType. If your student doesn't have a screen reader and has enough vision not to require something like Jaws, use TextHelp. It's inexpensive and excellent.
Mimizu refreshable tactile display
3 Townline Circle,
Rochester, NY 14623-2513
(585) 427-8260; Fax: (585) 427-0263
A membership organization for Braille transcribers. NBA membership includes quarterly newsletters that contain articles on improving tactile graphics, workshops and handouts regarding tactile graphics.
Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Brailled business cards, documents, books
Conference programme, proceedings, and abstracts for the 1st and 2nd Conference on Tactile Diagrams, Maps and Pictures. Best practice guidelines for the design, production and presentation of vacuum formed tactile maps – Ann Gardiner and Chris Perkins.
Ottawa, ON, Canada
Research department and supplier of web-based maps
Wikki Stix One-of-a-Kind Creatables
(Also available from Exceptional Teaching Aids, Inc.)
PicTac software takes an OCR image and turns it into embossable graphics
Preparing Tactile Adaptations for Math and Science
(Video tape) by Myrna Whigham & Dianne Utsinger (CV-5-1196.1)
Iowa State University
Instructional Technology Center
Ames, Iowa 50011-3243
Ph. (515) 294-8022
Tactile atlases and anatomical graphics.
76 Leabrook Lane
Princeton, New Jersey 08540
phone: (609) 924-5207
resource on tactile learning strategies
Mountbatten Brailler, braille displays, braille embossers, braille notetakers and personal data assistants, scanning and OCR software/hardware, Pictures in a Flash (PIAF), Woolly Pen tactile drawing kit
Tactile Image Enhancer, Flexi - Paper, Thermo Pen II, tactile graphics software
BrailleMaster Braille Transcription software
Making science, math, and engineering information accessible to people with print disabilities. Products developed in the Science Access Project include the Tiger Tactile Graphics and Braille Embosser, the Accessible Graphing Calculator, and TRIANGLE, a fully accessible DOS program for reading and doing math and science.
SensibleGraphics' aim is to increase the availability and use of adapted graphics for the blind and visually impaired. This is done by making graphics available online. Graphics are free to use for nonprofit purposes. Various organizations and individuals have supplied graphics for this site. Graphics are provided as are. Feel free to adapt them. Support is not provided for the graphics.
Tactile Graphics Designer (TGD) develops software to enable design and use of tactile graphics and tactile audio graphics, especially for blind and low vision users. Tactile graphic + Sound = Tagraphic. Design tools are TGD QikTac, TGD Pro and - TGD Workshop with integrated Braille and tactile graphics in a multimedia setting of touch and sound. AudioBraille in Workshop leads to Braille learning including graphics on the same page. AudioPIX, in Workshop leads to speech and sound enhanced tactile images - physics, math, geography; any subject and also for just plain 'fun'.
Tactile Colour System of textured vinyl stick-on sheets in twelve bold colors, each with a distinctive texture, used for tactile diagrams -plus: Colour identification cards with raised print and Braille, Greeting cards, Shaped identification stickers, Jigsaw puzzles, Maps to order, Memory cards
Tactile Graphics Design:
- National Centre for Tactile Diagrams - http://www.nctd.org.uk/MakingTG/thermo.asp
- Sig files can be viewed with tactile audio - http://www.tactileaudio.com/
Tactile Graphics Downloads:
- Tiger Advantage embosser graphics - http://www.washington.edu/computing/atl/Tiger
Raised printing for tactile graphics and braille, produced from hard copy originals or electronic files supplied by the customer, from materials available in Tactile Vision files or from designs commissioned by organizations or individuals. Applications include maps, calendars, books, business and greeting cards, labels and a wide range of teaching materials.
Nomad is a touch sensitive pad that can be connected to a PC running MENTOR software. Draw shapes on a piece of paper lying on the pad to be reproduced by the software on the computer screen. The paper can then be put in an embosser and the screen image embossed over it. The resulting Tactile Graphic can then be positioned back on the Nomad pad for further work.
- Blind Audio Tactile Mapping System - http://www.cs.unc.edu/Research/assist/bats
- 2002 List of Tactile Drawings and Maps - http://nfb.org/legacy/braille/tactilemaps.htm
- Touch Graphics - http://www/touchgraphics.com
- Tactile Maps and Graphics Resource Page - http://blindreaders.info/mapgraph.html
- Pierce Transit Chosen for National Project to Create Tactile Maps for Transit Riders with Visual Impairments - http://projectaction.easterseals.com/site/PageServer?pagename=ESPA_Newsletter_mainfal99_art6
- Improving Bus Accessibility Systems for Persons with Sensory and Cognitive Impairments - http://ntl.bts.gov/lib/6000/6400/6431/sci.html
- target-route map - article in JVIB - http://www.afb.org/jvib_toc.asp
- The Blind Audio Tactile Mapping System (BATS) - http://www.cs.unc.edu/Research/assist/bats/index.shtml
- Exploration of Spatial Information by Blind Users Tactile (Tiger) Graphics at the Adaptive Technology Lab - http://www.washington.edu/computing/atl/Tiger
A new computer peripheral device, along with an Authoring Tool that allows teachers of blind and visually impaired students to create talking tactile pictures for the TTT.
A variety of hardware and software (refreshable braille products, braille embossers, braille translation software, tactile imaging products, accessories, etc.) from various manufacturers, as used (demo/loan) products at a discount
Terrifically Tacky Tape and other products for Tactile Graphics:
- tacky tape - http://www.blockheadstamps.com/tape.html
- embossing enamel - http://www.stampit.com/stampit/enamel.html
- Raise it - http://www.stampit.com/stampit/raise_it.html
Online resource listing, including sources of materials, directions on creating object books, a listing of books, videos, journal articles, web sites, documents and human resources for preparing and teaching the use of quality tactile graphics. Lots of information about tactile graphics all over the TSBVI site!
Tiger printers and embossers that print braille and tactile graphics (including 3-D) direct from mainstream Windows software, DotsPlus® braille font for braille math, the Accessible Graphing Calculator (AGC) that facilitates mathematics accessibility through audio or braille.
Tiger User Group
Subscription (Subject: Sign me up):
Listserv to discuss the use of the Tiger Advantage embosser
9660 Hillcroft, Suite 302
Houston, Texas 77096
Fax: (713) 723-6221
The Virtual Touch System (VTS) enables remote tactile and audio access for Windows graphics and text through direct feedback from the computer screen. VTS, with its VirTouch Player and Mouse, also enables the drawing of graphics and displays text tactually in regular alphabets and braille as well as providing audio feedback.
Aldrich, F.K., Sheppard, L. & Hindle, Y. "First steps towards a model of tactile graphicacy", British Journal of Visual Impairment, Vol. 20, No. 2, pp62 - 67, May 2002.
Sheppard, L & Aldrich F.K. "Tactile graphics in school education: perspectives from teachers," British Journal of Visual Impairment, Vol. 19, No. 3, pp93 - 97, Sept 2001.
Aldrich, F.K. & Sheppard, L."Tactile graphics in school education: perspectives from pupils," British Journal of Visual Impairment, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp69 - 73, May 2001.
Sheppard, L & Aldrich F.K. "Tactile graphics: A beginner's guide to graphics for visually impaired children," Primary Science Review, Vol. 65, pp29 - 30, Nov - Dec 2000.
Aldrich, F.K. & Sheppard, L. "Graphicacy: the fourth 'r'?", Primary Science Review, Vol. 64, pp8-11, Sept - Oct 2000.
Scientific Visualization through Tactile Feedback For Visually Impaired Students
Richard R. Jones
Tactile Depictions for Visually Impaired People: 2D Pictures and Virtual 3D Objects
Homere, an Haptic System for Exploring a 3D Space
JP. Colinot , D. Paris , R. Fournier , F. Ascher PSA Peugeot Citroën, Ondim, CEA-List, Institut pour la ville en mouvement, available from http://www.snv.jussieu.fr/inova/villette2002/act9b.htm
TACTILE MAP AUTOMATED PRODUCTION (TMAP): USING GIS DATA TO GENERATE BRAILLE MAPS
Presenters Joshua A. Miele, Ph.D.
The Smith Kettlewell Eye Research
Institute 2318 Fillmore St. San Francisco, CA 94115
Ted Wattenberg, M.S., C.R.C.
San Joaqin Delta College
Disable Students Programs and Services
5151 Pacific Ave.|
Stockton, California 95207
SCHNEIDER, J., TH. STROTHOTTE, "Virtual Tactile Maps", in: H.-J. Bullinger, J. Ziegler (eds.), Human-Computer Interaction: Ergonomics and User Interfaces, Proc. HCI Int'l. '99 Vol. 1, Mahwah, NJ & London 1999.