Bridges Resource Library

Creating and Obtaining Tactile Graphics

Updated as of May 27, 2024

For information on the WHO and WHY of tactile graphics, please check out the Bridge’s Resource Library’s About Tactile Graphics entry.

Finished and ready-to-use tactile graphics

The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) sells a wide variety of high-quality tactile graphics, particularly for science. These graphics are available in subject-based notebooks (Geometry, Earth Science, Life Science, Build-A-Cell, Health Education, Basic Anatomy, Human Skeleton, and Basic Science) as well as a “Sense of Science” series (Astronomy, Plants, and Animals).

Making Tactile Graphics on the Fly

Tactile graphics can provide useful information even when they have not been carefully prepared in advance. For example, a math textbook should definitely have properly prepared tactile graphics. However, students might come up with various examples in class during instruction. In cases like these, on-the-fly tactile graphics are usually better than the alternative – no accessible graphic at all.

Here are a few tools to create “on-the-fly” tactile graphics:

Sensational Blackboard

  • Small and lightweight, this tool has a rubber-like substrate on one side
  • Using just a piece of regular copy paper and a ballpoint pen, anyone can draw a graphic and immediately feel (and see) lines drawn
  • Available for $49.95 plus shipping from Sensational Books

TactileDoodle and Draftsman

  • Each of these tools is available from the American Printing House for the Blind (APH)
  • Each uses special plastic film on a rubber-like substrate as well as a stylus for drawing
  • Each has built-in clips to hold the plastic film in place while drawing
  • Available from APH:


  • “A piece of window screen securely fastened with duct tape to a stiff sheet of cardboard [which] can be used under the paper your child is coloring on; the texture of the screen will come through and add tactile feedback to the crayon marks.” From the “Creating Tactile Books” web post of the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB).
  • Pros: inexpensive.
  • Cons:
    • Must make your own (or get someone to make it for you)
    • Must use crayons – might not be comfortable for older teens or adults in education and employment settings

Tactile graph paper (from APH)

Tactile marking tools

  • Graph Benders (from APH): $99.24, shipped free matter
  • Graphic Art Tape (from APH): $49.42, shipped free matter – Also available from non-APH sources

Preparing Tactile Graphics

Tactile graphics that are prepared ahead of time can provide better and more nuanced information than on-the-fly graphics. Keys to properly preparing tactile graphics include:

Items of note:

  • It is acceptable for some, early concept development-oriented graphics to be “crafty,” but students need to have opportunities to use standards-based tactile graphics in order to be able to use standardized graphics in textbooks and on high-stakes tests.
  • Be aware of the drawbacks of using particular materials:
    • Glued-on gems or buttons: When the graphic is transported and used, these can fall off. At that point, the student does not have an effective tactile graphic.
    • Wikki Stix:
      • Can fall off easily
      • Can leave a residue on fingers that may damage refreshable braille cells
    • Puffy paint:
      • Can take a long time to dry
      • It’s difficult to make smooth lines and curves with puffy paint

Sources for Professionally-prepared Tactile Graphics Templates

Tools for producing tactile graphics from templates

Sources for tactile graphic templates and other resources

Please Reach Out ANYTIME!

We at the Bridges Helpdesk and Technical Assistance Center have decades of experience. We love, love LOVE Tactile Graphics; we know that information is power! We are eager to hear from you and to help with anything you need. Please never hesitate to contact us!

Contact the Bridges Helpdesk for More Information

This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.

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