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Making Tactile Graphics with Braille Embossers

Description
Tactile graphics are one of the main mediums for blind and visually impaired people to access graphical representations of the world. However, only with enough practice and access to tactile graphics would people be able to develop tactile literacy to grasp these graphical concepts. It is fundamental then, that TVIs all over the world can understand the different techniques that they can use for creating tactile graphics, especially using the resources and technologies that they have within reach. In this session, we will explain the what, why, and how of creating tactile graphics with braille embossers, one of the most publicly accessible technologies, with the hope to contribute to more justice in information access and tactile literacy development. There are standards and guidelines for designing tactile graphics and techniques for its production according to the technology available in the market. Some of these techniques include hand-tooling, collage, sewing, swell or capsule technology, blind embossing, Braille embossing (high and low resolution) [10], silkscreen, thermoform, 3D printing, tactile displays, 2.5D printing, ultraviolet (or UV) printing, and raised-line drawing. Why should you bother about creating tactile graphics with Braille embossers? Among all the above alternatives, Braille embossing (high and low resolution) through Braille embossers is a good alternative in terms of time and cost of production, their high acquisition cost could be remedied using Braille embossers open to the public. In addition, there are software tools that allow digital conversion of images to be sent to a Braille embosser, reusing existing graphical resources to make tactile graphics. How to create tactile graphics with Braille embossers? First, you have to know if the Braille embosser is high or low resolution. The majority of high-resolution Braille embossers have their own software to create tactile graphics that come with the embosser. That is the case of ViewPlus embossers with Tiger Software Suite TSS, Enabling Technologies embossers with Firebird Software, and ESA 721 embossers with EDEL and Tenka Software. Moreover, there are private companies that have created commercial software such as TactileView and ElPicsPrint. If you have a low-resolution Braille embosser, there is also commercial software such as Picture Braille and Braille Figure. Or free alternatives as QuickTac and only in Portuguese Monet and Braille Pintor. If you do not have any of the software above but you have an internet connection you can use a free web service to convert an image to Braille format in https://BTactile.com/toBraille. For any of the cases, you will need a design of the image that you want to print in Braille, a recommendation is to use a design of the image made for someone with experience designing tactile graphics. You can use one of the more than five thousand images available indexed of repositories around the world of experts in the field. In nutshell, the process is: search for an image design, convert it to Braille format, and send it to a Braille embosser. Where to create tactile graphics with Braille embossers? Many public libraries around the world have the free service of Braille embossing for text, in some cases they let the users use the Braille embossers. Some examples are the San Francisco Public Library and the New York Public Library in the USA and the BibloRed: District Network of Public Libraries in Colombia. As a user, you have to check the availability in advance, and in some cases, you have to carry the Braille paper. What happens if you know why, how, and, where to create tactile graphics with Braille embossers? We hope with this information the numbers of tactile graphics produced for and by blind and visually impaired people around the world increase to improve tactile literacy.  
Audience
  • Disability Specific
  • K-12 Education
  • Government
  • Healthcare & Rehabilitation
  • Research & Development
Audience Level
Beginning  
Session Summary (Abstract)
Braille embossers are a widely available technology for blind people. However, users can overlook that they can be used beyond text documents. In this session, participants will learn how to create tactile graphics using Braille embossers, their challenges, and where to find the tools to achieve them.  
Session Type
General Track  
Topics
  • Blind/Low Vision
  • Digital Accessibility
  • Education
  • Information & Communications Technology (ICT)
  • Web

Presenters

  • Maria Fernanda Zuniga Zabala
    BTactile.com
  • John Alexis Guerra Gomez
    Northeastern University Bay Area

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