Creating Tactual Graphics
By: Carmen Willings
Revised October 28, 2017
The ability to read tactual graphics and charts is essential as part of a braille student’s literacy program. Explicit instruction in the reading and interpretation of tactile graphics is critical for students who are tactile learners. The student cannot fully participate in the core curriculum when presented with lessons or assessments involving charts and tables if the student is not able to read and interpret tactile graphics.
Common Methods of Producing Tactile Graphics
A collage tactile graphic can be created using a variety of craft materials that can be found in craft stores or recyclables. Possible materials for creating the area include braille paper, cardboard, Handi wipes, textured paper, fine sandpaper, needlepoint backing or fabric. To create lines, you could use string, wire, candlewick, thread, or puff paint. To create point symbols, use materials such as cork, felt, circle from hole punch, glue-ons, stick ons, or foam shapes. Labels can be created using commercially available clear labels or laminating sheets.
A tooled tactile graphic can be created using materials such as paper, aluminum diagramming sheets, or overhead projector sheets. Tools such as an embossing wheel, embossing tools from APH kits, stencil tools, etc. are used to mark papers and aluminum sheets. Some methods require the producer to traces on the back of the paper to reverse the image while other methods allow the producer to create raised lines using specialty paper. A combination of tooling and collage provides a graphic that is tactually different and easy to read.
Microcapsule Paper and Heat (Swell graphics)
Microcapsule paper is a special paper onto which thermally-foamed microcapsules have been uniformly coated. These microcapsules of wheat-flour-like form will instantly expand to hundreds of times as much as the original volume upon absorbing the energy of light or heat. Any material in black and white such as a line drawing, map, graph, illustration, photograph and chart can be three-dimentionalized when printed on specialized paper and fed through a specialized machine such as the Picture in a Flash or Swell form graphics machine.
Thermoforming is a the process where a plastic sheet is heated to a pliable forming temperature, formed to a specific shape in a mold. Equipment and supplies are available through American Thermoform Corporation.
More Information on Tactile Graphics...
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