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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.

Drawing Maps with Microsoft 2007

Drawing Tools Need for Microsoft Word 2007

Drawing with Microsoft Word 2007 and 2010

Tactile Graphic Examples

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)

Using Tiger and MathType


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.

Updated 3/05.

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. 

Subscribe to the list by sending email to:
with 'subscribe' in the Subject line. 
To post on the list, simply send email to: .

Adobe®Illustrator® Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) drawing software program to produce tactile graphics:

AFB Press

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

Access World and the Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness

American Art Clay Co., Inc.

6060 Guion Road
Indianapolis, IN 46254-1222
(800) 374-1600; Fax: (317) 248-9300
Email: ;

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
Box 6085
Louisville, KY 40206-0085
(800) 223-1839

American Thermoform

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).

Anglia Polytechnic University Enterprises

Researcher institute and supplier of polymer ink graphics, tactile diagrams & 3D printing
Contact: Jonathan Rowell

Art Education for the Blind, Inc.

160 Mercer Street,
New York, New York 11102
phone: (212) 334-3700

Assistive Technology Group at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Blind Audio Tactile Mapping System (BATS)

BANA Committee

Braille Jymico

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. 

C.A. Reading Technology, Inc.

P2RD Portable Print Reading Device

Carolina Biological Supply Company

2700 York Road,
Burlington, NC 27215-3398
( 800) 334-5551
Fax: 800-222-7112
Sells materials for science teachers including preserved specimens.

Comparison of Thermal Expansion Machines for Raised Line/Tactile Graphics

Computer Center for Visually Impaired People,

Baruch College, City University of New York
Tactual Maps, Floor Plans and Charts
Contact Karen Gourgey: 

Corel Drawing program

produce tactile graphics

Creating and Using Tactile Experience Books for Young Children With Visual Impairments

by Sandra Lewis and Joan Tolla

Creative Adaptations for Learning (CAL)

38 Beverly Road
Great Neck, New York 11021-1330.
Phone: (516) 466-9143
Tactile greeting cards, flashcards, shapes and rhymes books, raised shapes counting cards, etc.

Dots Plus Tactile Fonts

Duxbury Systems, Inc.

270 Littleton Rd., Unit 6
Westford, MA 01886-3523 USA
(978) 692-3000
Fax: (978) 692-7912
Duxbury and Megadots braille translators, LaTeX importer for graphics, Duxbury Braille Board: Easy-to-use translator for sign making.

Equal Access to Software and Information (EASI)

Guide to Math and Graphics

Enabling Technologies

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;
Braille Paper


52 Allees Charles-de-Fitte
F-31300 Toulouse, France
+33-561-426866 voice/ +33-561-591382 fax

Copieurs-Relief: French translation and graphics program.

Exceptional Teaching Aids, Inc.

20102 Woodbine Ave.
Castro Valley, CA  94546
(800) 549-6999 / Fax: 510-582-5911

Raised line coloring books; labeling, marking, writing, and transcribing aids

Fingerprints Tactile Books

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.

Fischer Scientific

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.

Freedom Scientific

11800- 31st Court North
St. Petersburg, FL 33716-1805
(800) 444-4443 FAX (727) 803-8001

Braille Blazer and VersaPoint Duo embossers

Frontier Computing

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Tactile graphics materials, hardware

gh, LLC

Purdue Technology Center
3000 Kent Avenue
West Lafayette, IN 47906
Toll Free: (866) MY-3-DOTS [693-3687]
Fax: (765) 775-2501

LaserLine Graphics, Digital Talking Books, Electronic Braille and Large Print, Random Electronic Access Documents (READ™).

Hallogram Publishing

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

Holt Anatomical, Botanical and Zoological models

PO BOX 441987,
MIAMI, FLORIDA 33144-1987
(800) 642-HOLT (4658); Fax: (305) 261-9629
Anatomical models for professional use or artistic display, priced to match.

Howe Press

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

Hubbard Scientific

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.

Hungry Fingers Educational Tools for Visually Impaired Children

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.

TouchSense devices for use with iFeelPixel software

Independent Living Aids, Inc.

200 Robbins Lane
Jericho, NY 11753
Phone (800) 537-2118
Fax: (516) 937-3906

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

Index Braille

Braille and braille-based tactile graphics embossers and WinBraille braille editor

Tactile Visualization and Tactile Graphics

Information Access Laboratory

ICEB* Tactile Graphics Project

(*International Council on English Braille)
Coordinates research and writing guidelines for tactile graphics (site includes listserv subscription information)

Investigating tactile graphics in the education of blind children

Dr. Frances Aldrich
Reginald Phillips Research Programme
Experimental Psychology
University of Sussex
Falmer, Brighton BN1 9QG, United Kingdom.

Tel: +44 1273 678058 (Direct)
+44 1273 678058 (Dept.)
Fax: +44 1273 678058

IVEO Accessible SVG

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.

JP Trading, Inc. (Matsumoto Kosan Corp)

400 Forbes Blvd., Unit3
So.  San Francisco, CA 94080-2026
Tel: (650) 871-3940
Fax: (650) 871-394
Capsule Paper

LaTeX Project

(can be used to prepare technical & scientific documents with tactile graphics):

The Living Paintings Trust

Audio & tactile interpretation of art works

MacKichan Software, Inc.

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,  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

National Braille Association

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.

National Braille Press - tactile graphics creation process tour

National Braille Factory

Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Brailled business cards, documents, books

National Centre for Tactile Diagrams

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.

Natural Resources Canada - Mapping for the Visually Impaired

Ottawa, ON, Canada
Research department and supplier of web-based maps

NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) Braille Display Project

Refreshable Tactile Display Computer Monitor

Omnicor, Inc.

2432 W. Peoria #1188
Phoenix, AZ 85029
(800) 869-4554 / Fax: (602) 870-9877

Wikki Stix One-of-a-Kind Creatables
(Also available from Exceptional Teaching Aids, Inc.)

Personal Data Systems, Inc.

PO Box 1008, Campbell, CA   95009-1008
408-866-1126 voice
408-866-1128 fax

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

Princeton Braillists

Tactile atlases and anatomical graphics.
76 Leabrook Lane
Princeton, New Jersey 08540
phone: (609) 924-5207

Project Salute

resource on tactile learning strategies

Quantum Technology

5 South Street (PO Box 390)
Rydalmere NSW 2116, Australia
+61 2 8844 9888 / Fax +61 2 9684 4717

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


75 Carver Ave.
Westwood, NJ 07675
(800) 948-8453 / FAX (201) 722-1881

Tactile Image Enhancer, Flexi - Paper, Thermo Pen II, tactile graphics software

Robotron Group

15 Stamford Road
Oakleigh 3166

BrailleMaster Braille Transcription software

Science Access Project (SAP)

John Gardner, Director

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.

Sensible Graphics Tactile Graphics

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 Audio

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 Ltd.

42 Inwood Crescent
Brighton, BN1 5AQ, UK.
Phone +44(0)1273 565037

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:


Tactile Graphics Downloads:

Tactile Graphics, An Overview Resource Guide:


Tactile Vision, Inc.

461 North Service Rd., W., Unit B11
Oakville, Ontario, Canada L6M 2V5
(905) 465-0755, Fax (905) 465-1334

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.

Tactile Graphics – Nomad MENTOR:

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.

Tactile Maps:

Talking Tactile Tablet (TTT)

Touch Graphics

330 West 38 Street, Suite 1204
New York, NY 10018
(646) 515-3492 / FAX (212) 375-6341
Steve Landau

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.

Technologies for the Visually Impaired, Inc. (TVI)

9 Nolan Ct.
Hauppauge, NY 11788
Voice & Fax: (631) 724-4479

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: 

Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI)

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!

ViewPlus Technologies, Inc.

1853 SW Airport Avenue
Corvallis, Oregon 97333
(541) 754-4002
Fax: (541) 738-6505

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

VirTouch, Ltd.

Performance Systems
9660 Hillcroft, Suite 302
Houston, Texas 77096
(713) 723-6000
Fax: (713) 723-6221  

Adaptive Technology Consulting
Gayle Yarnall

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

Presenters Joshua A. Miele, Ph.D.
The Smith Kettlewell Eye Research
Institute 2318 Fillmore St. San Francisco, CA 94115


Presenters Janice Walth
San Joaqin Delta College
Disable Students Programs and Services
5151 Pacific Ave.
Stockton, California 95207
(209) 365-0345

Ted Wattenberg, M.S., C.R.C.
San Joaqin Delta College
Disable Students Programs and Services
5151 Pacific Ave.|
Stockton, California 95207
(916) 736-2251

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.


    • Don’t plot less than three nor more than 1000 points.
    • Be sure that your x min and x max DO NOT include values that will result in y values that are non-real numbers.
    • For example, if you wish to graph y = the square root of x, you would enter sqrt(x) in the expression box, but you would also need to change the x min to “0.” The use of any negative numbers for x will result in an “invalid expression.”
    • For example, if you wish to graph the circle:

      x 2 + y 2 = 4, which is not a function, you need to create two separate functions: the top of the circle and the bottom of the circle. Graph: y = sqrt(4-x^2) in Data 1 and y = -sqrt(4-x^2) in Data 2, but you need to be sure that your x min is –2 and your x max is 2 (the positive and negative square roots of 4).

    • Solving Systems of Equations Graphically
    • The AGC has a tracer function like other graphing calculators (ALT- right arrow ), which verbalizes the coordinates of each point as you trace. However, it doesn’t voice when you have reached a point of intersection for two graphs displayed at once. When graphing a system of equations (two data sets), go to the Plot Tab Page, Section “Source,” and select “Difference (1-2).” Then press Alt-0 to find the approximate x-value(s) of the point(s) of intersection. Then go to the data table of either or both equations and search for the y-value(s) associated with the x value(s) you have determined. You will now have the approximate coordinates for the point(s) of intersection (if any exist).
    • Another alternative is to print the graph of the system to a Tiger graphics embosser (or print it to a print printer with Braille font, copy onto swell paper, and run through a tactile imaging machine if you don’t have a Tiger). Then determine the point(s) of intersection(s) (if any exist) from the hard copy graph.
    • Unless the point of intersection is a pair of integers, graphing isn't the best method of solving systems. Even then, most graphing calculators don't give you the correct answer, only an approximation. Instead of giving you the solution of (1, 4), they might indicate (1.012, 3.998) for example.
    • Solving Systems of Equations Symbolically
    • Shortly after learning the graphing method, students learn how to solve systems of linear equations using substitution, linear combination, and matrices. Since the AGC will do matrices, I give you the following example.
    • If you had the system:
      3x - 5y = -7
      5x - 8y = -11
      Go to the matrix tab. Type INV[3,-5;5,-8] (Note this is using the coefficients of the variables.)
      It will give you the inverse of that first matrix: [-8,5;-5,3] or something fairly close.
      Then, you would multiply that last answer by the matrix

[-7;-11] (constants on the right side of each equation) and the answer will pop out as: [1;2].
This solution matrix shows you that the answer is (1, 2) or the point of intersection.

  • Quadratic-Linear and Quadratic-Quadratic Systems can also be solved symbolically.
  • The AGC will not graph inequalities per se; that is, it will not shade above or below the boundary line of the inequality. When graphing a system of inequalities, you will need to graph the system of boundary equations, emboss the graphic, and manually determine the solution of the associated inequalities.
  • To produce graphs with different thicknesses (and/or more than two graphs on the same page), you might want to try something that I HAD to do when the old AGC would not graph two equations at the same time. I would have the Tiger embosser take the paper back in, and I would emboss a second graph on top of the first using the exact same domain and range. However, to minimize paper perforation, at the print stage, I would eliminate everything I could – uncheck everything, no labels, no axes, no title, etc. Therefore, you can still do this and get 4 graphs (I wouldn’t do more!) on one paper. You might want to do this for certain graphs, but not for everything. (The same technique works for creating a print copy with a braille font. Still eliminate the items mentioned above, so as not to create a “blurred” copy.) To change the appearance of each separate graph, I would change the number of points plotted, and/or use the points only, line through points only, or both points and line option when printing/embossing. The results were amazing and might be helpful, especially for inequalities.
  • While eliminating the axis labels, I discovered that the “instructions” were reversed. That is, if you uncheck the “X Labels,” you eliminate the “Y Labels,” and vice versa.
  • You will want to take advantage of the “Title” box just before you print as well. If the student is creating the graph, they might wish to type in their name (in ASCII though to get proper braille). Since I have so many braille readers, they have to do this to distinguish their graph from the others! If the teacher is creating the graphic and the student is not supposed to know the associated equation, they might want to type in “Figure 1.”
  • The Auto-Speak Coordinates Box (check box entitled “Speak X and Y values at each step”) found at the bottom of the Wave page is not voiced.
  • When creating graphs of trig functions, it would sometimes be convenient to label the x-axis in terms of pi or even 90, 180, 270, 360. Unfortunately there is no toggle switch to convert your default settings to trig settings. You have to use decimal approximations for radian measures. For example: pi = 3.142; 90 = pi/2 = 1.571; etc.
  • The AGC is certainly not as perfect as I would like it to be, but they continue to improve it; they really listen to us; and many of my students can and do use the AGC independently. The AGC is approved for standardized tests in Texas and elsewhere.

Download rtf file

The following table lists the notation for various expressions and functions for the Evaluator and Data 1 and 2 Expressions.


















sin( )



cos( )



tan( )



asin( )



acos( )



atan( )


Hyperbolic Sine

hsin( )


Hyperbolic Cosine

hcos( )


Hyperbolic Tangent

htan( )


Hyperbolic Arcsine

hasin( )


Hyperbolic Arccosine

hacos( )


Hyperbolic Arctangent

hatan( )


Square Root

sqrt( )





e to the x

exp( )



log( )


Natural logarithm

ln( )


Absolute value




Download the rtf.

Graphing Hot Keys

Functions relating to the display and playback of the Visual and Audio graphs are listed below with their relevant Hot Key assignments.

General Graph FunctionsHot Key

Display the visual graph


Hide the visual graph


(Re)Evaluate an expression



Audio Graph FunctionsHot Key

Play an Audio Graph


Stop playing a graph


Play next data point


Play last data point


Play to next minimum


Play to next maximum


Play to next zero


Go to start of graph (left)


Go to end of graph (right)


Save audio graph to a .wav file


Toggle audio tick marks


Other Hot Keys

Here are some additional hot key shortcuts:

ActionHot Key

File Menu


Options Menu


Graphing Menu


Help Menu


Larger screen


Smaller screen


Read current focus


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Pat Van Geem's List of Resources (TSBVI)

American Printing House for the Blind, Inc.

P.O. Box 6085
Louisville, KY 40206-0085
Phone: 800-223-1839, FAX: 502-899-2274

Braille Authority of North America

Tactile Graphics Committee
Lucia Hasty, Chairperson
Colorado Instructional Materials
1015 High Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
Phone: 719-578-2195

Braille Center

Region IV Education Service Center (ESC)
Diane Spence, Coordinator
7145 West Tidwell
Houston, TX 77092-2096
Phone: 713-744-8144, FAX: 713-744-8148

California Transcribers & Educators of the Visually Handicapped

c/o Braille Institute of America
741 North Vermont Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90029-3594

National Braille Association, Inc.

Contact them.

Basic Principles for Preparing Tactile Graphics from AFB
American Foundation for the Blind

AFB Press
Customer Service
11 Penn Plaza, Suite 300
New York, NY 10001

University of Washington Tactile Graphics Project

Tactile Math Graphics Page

Teaching Math to Visually Impaired Students

Susan A. Osterhaus
Secondary Mathematics Teacher
Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
1100 West 45th Street
Austin, TX 78756
Phone: 512-206-9305
FAX: 512-206-9453

Source: Susan A. Osterhaus, Teaching Math to Visually Impaired Students Home Page, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Austin, Texas.

Report on Braille Adaptations of the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills

Background Information

The Division of Student Assessment at the Texas Education Agency (TEA) facilitated a meeting on October 14, 1993 to review the current procedures for brailling and producing large-print versions of the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) tests. In attendance were staff representing the following agencies or groups:

  • Division of Student Assessment, TEA
  • Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
  • Services for Visually Handicapped Students, TEA
  • National Computer Systems Psychological Corporation
  • Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments (School districts throughout Texas)
  • Braille Readers
  • Braille Specialists


Major concerns were identified at the initial meeting, solutions were recommended and a plan of action was outlined. The three main areas of concern were in test administration, braille test item adaptations, and the acquisition/reporting of data.

Test Administration: Meeting attendees provided the following information:

  • Teachers want explicit guidelines as to how much or little assistance they can provide a student during the test.
  • Teachers want a list of necessary materials prior to the day of the test. Teachers want practice materials available for sighted students to also be available in braille.
  • Teachers want clarification on how much time a student can spend on a test.
  • Teachers want a toll-free help line for questions or problems on test day i.e., a defective booklet, no list of materials received, etc.
  • Teachers want specific instruction as to what is allowable in the transcription of the writing response from braille to print.

Braille Test Item Adaptations: The following issues relating to test item production were discussed;

  • The types of visuals/graphics represented in braille.
  • Test items require multiple scanning tasks, (i.e. large tables, long reading passages, etc.)
  • Testing instructions/directions to the student.
  • Spatial concepts such as 3-D concepts and textures that are not appropriate to braille.
  • Participation of VI teachers during the item development process.

Test Reporting Meeting attendees offered the following concerns:

  • Availability of raw data for braille test results.
  • Access/availability of test results.
  • Affect of omitted items on test results


Test administration:

  • Revise the general and special instructions to clearly define the parameters for teacher intervention during braille test administration.
  • Provide a toll-free number in the instructions.
  • Provide braille measurement specifications.

Braille test item adaptations:

  • Establish an interim standards committee for the convention of graphics and test item adaptations in braille for the StAAR and end-of-course tests.
  • Involve specialists, in the field of vision, on item advisory review committees.
  • Involve TEA Special Education /VI staff in dissemination of information related to the interim standards.
  • Establish an external quality review committee.

Test reporting:

  • Outline access issues in the Coordinator Instructions manual.
  • Provide a method of coding braille and large print test documents.


As a result of the October 14, 1993 meeting a committee was established to review measurement specifications sample STAAR and end-of-course test items for accuracy, clarity, braille appropriateness, graphic representations, format, style and content. The first meeting of the Interim Standards Committee for the Convention of Graphics and Test Item Adaptations met on November 16 and 17, 1993Each sample test item was transcribed into braille in advance and provided to the committee members for reference during the item-by-item analysis.

The Committee met again in December 1993 with a final meeting in February 1994The goal of the committee was to complete the sample test item analysis and reach agreement as a group, on decisions for braille test adaptations for the Spring 1994 braille STAAR and end-of-course tests. Following is a report from the Committee outlining their recommendations.

Interim Standards Committee Recommendations

Assessment Specialists:

  • Laura Ayala, Division of Student Assessment, Texas Education Agency
  • Nan Bulla, Diagnostician Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Austin, Texas
  • Jenny Kile Russell, Division of Student Assessment, Texas Education Agency
  • Phyllis Stolp, Division of Student Assessment, Texas Education Agency

Braille Reading Professionals:

  • Olivia Chavez: Consultant for Student with Visual Impairments, Region XIX Education Service Center, E1 Paso, Texas
  • Marilyn Williams: Certified Braille Proofreader, Region IV Education Service Center, Houston, Texas

Teachers with multiple years experience in administering braille tests:

  • Lorinda Heslip, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Klein Independent School District
  • Pat Knox, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Garland Independent School District
  • Rita Livingston, Principal, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
  • Susan Osterhaus, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
  • Christy Shephard, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District
  • Renee Shepler, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Austin Independent School District

Braille Test Specialists

  • Priscilla Harris, Certified Braille Transcriber, New York Department of Education, National Braille Association
  • Diane Spence, Braille Production Specialist, Region IV Education Service Center

The Interim Standards Committee for the Convention of Graphics and Test item Adaptations met to make recommendations on the appropriate adaptations for braille transcribed test items from the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) and end-of-course tests. All grade levels and subject area items were carefully reviewed with recommendations made by the committee based upon teacher input, student braille-reading needs, test protocol, and national standards for braille transcribed test material.

National standard formatting guidelines were followed for the majority of the print test transcription. The committee made specific decisions on individual test items which are outlined in the following sections of this report. There were, however, basic concepts discussed and recommendations made as follows:

Omitted Items
If a print item is not adaptable in braille, it should be omitted on the braille test and noted in the special instructions to the test administrator as well as referenced on the braille test.

Order of Presentation
The decision was made to maintain the print order of presentation as much as possible (question?-graphic? answer choices) in an effort to provide consistency for the student throughout the test. Previous versions of the test had been braille transcribed showing the questions, followed by the answer choices, ending with the graphic. There was a concern that the answer choices are not always the last item presented on all questions and that this might cause some confusion to the student.

Picture Descriptions
The committee members felt very strongly that if the test included pictures, either as a focusing technique or to set the stage for the upcoming passage or question, that these pictures should be described. There was discussion about the additional reading that would be required of the braille student as compared to the sighted student because of the added picture descriptions. The recommendation was made to include a copy of all picture descriptions in the special administration instructions and instruct the student to either read the picture descriptions themselves or have the test administrator read them.

Boxed Material
The committee recommended that boxed print material also be boxed in braille even if the question and answer choices pertaining to the boxed material had to be moved to a new page.

Special Instructions to the Student
The committee recommended that when a table or graphic appears on a different page than the question, that the question be modified to indicate its location. For example: "...Use the graph below to answer question 13 on the next page."

Graphic Preferences
The committee had specific opinions about the types of graphics that were prepared for their review. A clear distinction was made as to the types of graphics that could be done using the computer graphics method and the ones that should be hand drawn. Committee members recommended that the embossed computer graphics method be used for simple shapes such as, squares, triangles, bar graphs, but not for more complex graphics requiring multiple textures, circles, angles, X-Y coordinate planes, maps, shaded groupings, etc.

Scanning Tasks Simplified
There were several test items which involved scanning tasks. In print reading passages, words were underlined and the students asked, for example, "the underlined word in the passage means..." In braille, the paragraphs containing underlined words were numbered. The test item was modified to tell the student: "In paragraph (3), print page a24, the word means.."

General Notes:

  • If sample questions are unnumbered in print, the braille sample test item should begin in cell one with no number.
  • When a picture is used as a focusing technique and is randomly placed on the page, the picture description should be placed after the centered heading of the story.
  • If picture descriptions are included in a test, the following note should be placed on the transcriber's note page: "When a test item contains a picture, the picture has been described in braille. If you wish to have the description read aloud, ask your teacher."
  • All words that are double capped or bold faced to show emphasis, will be italicized in braille.
  • Charts and tables should be kept on one page, even if this means leaving large empty spaces on the previous page.
  • Short passages and questions should be kept with answer choices on the same braille page, even if this means leaving large empty spaces on the previous page.
  • Periods should be placed after all question numbers and answer choice letters even if there are no periods in print.
  • If the print test instructs the student to "Mark your answer ." The braille version will say "Write your answer."


  • When a reading passage contains underlined words, the word should be italicized in braille. A paragraph number should be inserted, and enclosed in parenthesis at the margin before the paragraph containing the underlined word. A line should be skipped before the paragraph number in all instances except when a cell 5 heading precedes the numbered paragraph. In this case the cell 5 heading, will be followed by the number enclosed in parenthesis followed by the cell three paragraph entry.
  • The underlined (italicized) word should fall on the same braille page as the number of its paragraph. If a reading question refers to an underlined word in the passage, the question should be modified to reflect the paragraph number and the print page containing the word (i.e. In paragraph (3), print page a24, the word ...)
  • If the reading selection contains a table, chart or graph, the entire table, chart or graph must be on one braille page and the question referencing the table, chart or graph should be modified to say, On print page a53 the table...

Subject Area Information: MATH

  • If answer choices are to be displayed in 4?corner style on an page, they should be in the following order:
  • If the 4-corner style of placing answer choices is used, consider drawing lines separating the four areas on the braille page.
  • All right angles on graphics need the right angle notation.
  • In braille transcribed tables where the full braille cell "=" is used to represent an amount for counting, place one braille space in between each full braille cell.
  • If the print table contains a key: e.g. "Each ? represents 10 puppies." The braille equivalent "=" the braille equivalent = should be substituted for the print symbol and the key should be moved under the title of the table/graph and placed in cell 5If the print does not include this statement, enclose the statement in \\tn symbols and place in cell 7 with runovers in cell 5.
  • When tally marks are used for counting, use underscore marks in braille should be used "_" with no space in between them unless they are shown in groups of five in print. If that is the case, a space should be placed in between each set of 5 tally marks.
  • Number lines in tests for third through fifth grade will be hand drawn.
  • Number lines in tests for grades 6 through exit level will be done on computer using the mathematical number line designations. If only one or two number lines appear in a test, insert the number line transcriber's note explaining all the symbols used, just before the question where the number lines are presented. If several number lines are found throughout the test, the number line transcriber's note and symbol descriptions should be placed on a special symbols page.
  • For test items that instruct students to count the number of blocks shown (one hundred, strips of ten, and units of one), a transcribers note will be included stating the h stands for hundred, t for tens, and o for ones.
  • Test items showing base ten blocks with shaded squares will be hand drawn with raised dots showing the shaded areas.

Subject Area Information: WRITING .

  • A note on the transcribers note page will be included to, Numbers, without number signs, appear in the right margin on the line in which numbered items begin.
  • When a writing passage contains underlined words, the words will be italicized in braille and the question number will be placed on the line where the underline (italics) begins.
  • Enlarge the figure to an appropriate size for the 11 X 11-1/2 page.
  • Trace on the back of the enlarged paper figure to reverse the image.
  • Trace enlarged (reversed) image on back of foil.
  • Draw the figure on foil in layers (symbols first then the braille dots, then different textured lines, and finally add the texture).
  • Burnish to define the lines and symbols.
  • Make air holes, one air hole per braille dot and three or four air holes around each symbol.
  • Thermoform the master and determine if more air holes are needed.

Source: American Foundation for the Blind Braille Literacy Mentors in Training: The Next Generation - Teaching Special Codes: Nemeth, CBC, and Tactile Graphics - Workshop in Fremont, California (August 7-9, 1997) and Atlanta, Georgia (September 11-13, 1997). Diane Spence and Susan A. Osterhaus

  • Make the tactile graphic as clear as possible. Always keep in mind the point of view of the braille reader. It is up to the producer to present the information in a clear, concise manner for the student.
  • Know the important facts to be kept in mind when creating the graphic.
  • Determine if the original shapes and textures are necessary to convey the concept, or can simple geometric shapes or braille signs be used to illustrate the concept.
  • Omit unnecessary parts of the diagram (i.e. unreferenced or irrelevant sections of a map) so that the original shapes and textures can be presented on a larger and clearer scale.
  • Keep in mind the knowledge level, skill base, and age level of the reader. Use age appropriate language.
  • Determine if the text requires measurements to be made or an operation to be performed, or if the original shapes, textures and total form are necessary to convey the concept. If so, the lines and angles are reproduced retaining a proper scale.
  • Remember to keep it simple; unnecessary information, clutter, may prohibit the student from gaining relevant information therefore making the graphic useless.
  • Edit/proofread the graphic with your fingers, not your eyes, before showing it to a student. Beware, if someone says your graphic is "pretty" or "beautiful", take a second look, your student may not be able to understand it at all.

Source: American Foundation for the Blind Braille Literacy Mentors in Training: The Next Generation - Teaching Special Codes: Nemeth, CBC, and Tactile Graphics - Workshop in Fremont, California (August 7-9, 1997) and Atlanta, Georgia (September 11-13, 1997). Diane Spence and Susan A. Osterhaus

  • Why is this picture/map/figure important?
  • What are the most important elements to communicate?
  • Who will use this material?
    • age group
    • mental and/or physical condition
    • students ability or experience with reading graphics
  • How will this figure be used?
    • with or without help from a sighted teacher
    • with other children who are sighted or blind
    • with actual concrete objects
  • Where will the material be used?
    • in a classroom setting
    • at home for leisure reading or games
    • as part of a test instrument
    • as an orientation map
  • How will the map be produced?
    • to be used for one copy, one time
    • to be used as a master from which many copies can made

Source: American Foundation for the Blind Braille Literacy Mentors in Training: The Next Generation - Teaching Special Codes: Nemeth, CBC, and Tactile Graphics - Workshop in Fremont, California (August 7-9, 1997) and Atlanta, Georgia (September 11-13, 1997). Diane Spence and Susan A. Osterhaus