There are many things to consider when making a tactile diagram and it can take a lot of practice to get it right. The main aim is to give pupils access to reliable information. It is important to remember that a symbol which is visually clear to us may have no value as a tactile symbol to our blind pupil.
The video on How to Create Tactile Graphics highlights some of the pitfalls when creating tactile graphics. Poor and difficult to interpret diagrams can be very off putting to students and reduced access can lead to reduced interest in looking for information. Skills are very dependent on the ‘memory bank’ of touch that the pupil has acquired and the amount of life experience and information they have accumulated. In order to fully understand the tactile picture the pupil needs to have some experience of the real object where possible.
If there is too much information then the challenge can be too great and very overwhelming. It takes time and support to read a diagram with the accuracy needed for understanding. It is important to remember that the information that can be gained is very dependent on the standard of the illustration that is produced. Sometimes it is necessary to make several diagrams from one original picture in order to reduce the amount of detail on one page, this is known as split representation. Making a key for the diagram also reduces the detail and makes the diagram easier to read. Arrows and marker lines should also be avoided as these distort the image and may be perceived as part of the picture.
Tactile observations can be very fragmented and so it is important that diagrams are not too large, an increased area makes it harder to make sense of the whole picture. Reading tactile diagrams is not an automatic skill, it requires time and support to ensure learning takes place.
Further detailed information on tactile graphics can be found in:
Hinton, R. (1996) Tactile Graphics ISBN 0901580775
Edman, P. (1992) Tactile Graphics American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
The Tactile Library website has a free library of diagrams used in education for pupils with visual impairment.
Modern fuser machines are more compact and portable than the one illustrated in the video and can be sourced at
No 1, Valley Court, Sanderson Way, Middlewich, Cheshire CW10 0GF.
Telephone: 01606 738739
Fax: 01606 738752
Get practical tips on creating tactile graphics with our video: Using Layers in Paint.net to Create a Classroom Resource for Both Print & Tactile Use.
For more practical tips watch our video : How to Make Graph Paper Using MS Word.