Making Quick and Easy Raised-Line Drawings

Most itinerant TVIs and science teachers at schools for the blind have been in this familiar position.  The teacher introduces a new concept unexpectedly and there is either no raised line available for the student with a visual impairment or it is not clear to the student. How can we communicate quickly and clearly the information that is necessary?  An "on-the-fly" raised line is most often the easiest way.  I will present several ways that I have found to prepare them.  This has been difficult for me as stick figures are about the limit of my artistic ability.  What I have found, though, is that creating raised lines using the following tools is truly easy.  If I can do it, trust me, you can do it!

The APH Draftsman

The APH Draftsman allows the teacher to produce a raised line on a special drawing film which comes with the draftsman and can be ordered separately. Because the film is clear, a copy of the image is placed below the paper and a stylus is used to trace the image onto the paper producing a raised line. This tool is small, portable and I would recommend that both itinerant teachers and teachers at schools for the blind have one on hand. The Draftsman is available using Quota Funds.

Tracing Wheel

The image is of a tracing wheel.
A simple sewing tool called a tracing wheel can be used with a piece of braille paper on the draftsman if the drawing film is not available. This tool can be purchased at any sewing store or in the sewing department of a department store. 

The InTACT Sketchpad  

Similar to the APH Draftsman in that a tactile pen is used with a specialized paper. The InTACT Sketchpad is only 3 lb. and therefore very portable. Please see The InTact Sketchpad for further information information. 


Clipboard and Foam  

This very inexpensive option was mentioned by Susan Osterhaus in a video on math raised lines about making concentric circles. This method involves taking a clipboard and putting a piece of Funky Foam (this is the brand name - I thought she was just being cute...) onto the clipboard and then a piece of braille paper.  She uses a protractor to make circles in the video, but for science raised lines (other than maybe a lesson on annual growth rings) I would recommend using the above-mentioned tracing wheel.  The Funky Foam can be purchased in a craft store or craft section of a department store.


Hot Glue Gun on Cardstock or Braille Paper  

This is also a very inexpensive option. First draw the image using a 20/20 marker or permanent marker onto the cardstock or braille paper.  Then, using the hot glue gun, trace the image.  This provides both a raised line and a bold-lined image.  

Other Resources

  • Please see the following review of 20/20 pens if you have not used them before. They produce a nice bold line and do not smell like a permanent marker. A MUST-HAVE for any TVI.  

In summary, I would recommend always having on hand a method to make a quick raised line. Choose the method that is easiest and, if necessary, cost-effective and your students will be all the wiser for it.

Many thanks to Susan Osterhaus for her excellent video resources.


lined drawings collage
Read more about: Science, STEM