Rosenblum, L. P., & Herzberg, T. S. (2015). Braille and tactile graphics: Youths with visual impairments share their experiences . Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness , 109 (3), 173–184.

Journal Article

Rosenblum, L. P., & Herzberg, T. S. (2015). Braille and tactile graphics: Youths with visual impairments share their experiences. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 109(3), 173–184.


Also located on organizational (American Foundation for the Blind) webpage ; also downloadable from ERIC online database webpage


Braille; High school; K-12; Math; Middle school; Science; Tactile graphics; U.S. context; Visual impairment (including blindness)




In this study, the accommodation of tactile graphics, accompanied by information (in braille) including numbers and words, was examined. The technologies included a bar chart using a computer-generated, embossed surface with gridlines, a line graph using a thermoform graphic with gridlines, a picture using a collage graphic with hot glue and braille labels, and a map using a microcapsule graphic with braille labels.


Twelve students with visual impairments in grades 6 through 12 were interviewed and answered sets of objective questions about mathematics and science content presented using tactile graphics and braille. Students were from various states: Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Texas. Eleven students attended public schools and had teachers of students with visual impairments, and one student attended a specialized state school for the blind. Demographics including gender, grade level, and eye conditions were also reported.

Dependent Variable

Participants completed a series of objective questions after having examined four different tactile graphic representations typically used for math and science content. The information was presented in a bar chart, a line graph, a picture, and a map. Students' performance on the questions were reported. Students were asked about their experiences with these tactile graphics, as well as about previous use of tactile graphics and braille.


Of the four tactile graphics, the largest number of students (10 or more) answered correctly to most questions about the microcapsule map, and the least number of students (4 or fewer) answered correctly to questions about the collage picture using hot glue and braille labels. Participants described how they examined the map for information in terms of searching for title and map key. Most students indicated that the map information was clear; students offered feedback about their preferences and ways to improve the tactile graphic, such as location of the key. For the embossed bar graph, three participants expressed confusion about the information to the degree that they could not answer some or all of the content questions. Feedback from most students yielded that the columns were difficult to distinguish between, and several suggested that improvements could include different textures for each column, and some suggested changing label locations. on the thermoform graph, nearly all of the students reported that their information-seeking strategy was to locate specific data in response to specific questions (rather than scanning or exploring first). About half of the students indicated that the line textures were clear while the other half expressed that the lines were difficult to distinguish between. The picture collage was reported to clearly communicate the features needed for answering questions -- having five labeled parts -- yet most students did not accurately measure (with rulers) the dimensions of the object's shape. Few students suggested needed improvements, but some indicated label locations could be changed; researchers indicated that the ruler might have been unfamiliar, affecting the students' responses. Nearly all participants indicated that they have not been asked by educators for their input on the design of tactile graphics. Researchers offered recommendations about tactile graphics. Limitations of the study were reported, and future research directions were suggested.