Tactile Graphics

Written by Amy Hall
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Tactile graphics provide the print-disabled person with a way to "see" visual graphics through touch. It is often wrongly assumed that the visually impaired and the blind population have problems interpreting tactile graphics that are representative of traditional graphical material.

However, visual graphics can often be converted into tactile graphics very effectively. Highly graphical information that is found on such documents as maps, can also be converted using tactile graphics. However, it is important to understand that converting a visual graphic into a tactile graphic is much more involved than just making a photocopy tactile image of it.

Interpreting Tactile Graphics

Traditional graphics often need to be re-configured by skilled professionals in order to translate well in the tactile form. Tactile forms can be accompanied by explanations in braille which can further enhance the effect. For print-disabled people who don't know braille, there are audio-taped descriptions that can be heard while the person is touching the form.

Many companies which provide braille services are able to produce tactile graphics for students, employees, or just for the general visually impaired and blind population. Tactile graphics are made in a number of various formats which include thermoform, microcapsule paper, or embossed, which is produced on a braille printer. These graphics are considered vital for the understanding of concepts both at home and at work or school.

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