Braille Alphabet Coloring Pages Part 2: Tactile Graphics vs. Raised Line Drawings

Looking for emerging reader activities? Here is another set of braille alphabet coloring pages - with lovable Disney characters! In a previous and popular post, Dr. Blevins discussed the need for inclusive activities and she shared her first set of braille alphabet cards. (See Braille Alphabet Coloring Pages post for details.) These coloring pages can be printed for dual media students (who are being learning braille) and for sighted classmates or siblings. These coloring pages can also be "toasted" (run through a tactile graphics machine, such as a PIAF or Swell machine) for students who would benefit from raised line drawings and braille. The coloring sheets have the large 6-dot braille cell displaying the showcased braille letter at the top of the page, and the true-sized raised braille letter in the bottom left corner.

Students love all things Disney; but does your student with visual impairments know Donald Duck wears a hat or why Captain Hook is called "Hook"? Each cartoon character has unique characteristics. These coloring pages are a great way to jump start conversations about these adorable characters. These raised line drawings can be used to encourage your student to tactually explore the whole page, to learn about raised line drawings, to develop vocabularly words, and to learn about characteristics of their favorite Disney characters - all while being exposed to braille letters, phonics and building finger muscles while coloring!

PIAF Disney Character Braille Alphabet Coloring Pages Images created and shared by Dr. Blevins

Tactile Graphics vs. Raised Line Drawings

Traditionally, students are introduced to real objects or 3D objects as toddlers and preschoolers. Ideally, a student is introduced to the real object (such as an apple); however, it is not always possible or desirable for students to physically explore a real object! Think about touching a spider, bee or rattlesnake - no thank you! Real objects are not always available to touch, such as an elephant or a cloud. Other real objects are too big to touch, such as a house. Yet, we often use these items in pre-school and kindergarten when talking about letters and phonetics.

When real objects are not available or appropriate, we introduce 3D objects which represent the real object. One example is instead of a real bunny, we use a stuffed animal bunny that has long ears, puff tail, and fur. Students learn about the bunny's unique characteristics which help the student to identify other stuffed animal bunnies or to differentiate the bunny from a stuffed dog or other animal. When introducing a bunny, the student may learn facts about the bunny, such as a bunny likes to hop on his four legs (have the student hop) and while sniffing the bunny rapidly moves his nose and whiskers . Students might learn where a bunny lives, what he eats, and what sound he makes. (Hmm, I'm not sure how to describe a bunny sound, other than then 'sniffing' bunnies like to do when as they move their noses!)

After real or 3D objects, students are given "2D" tactile graphics made from different textures, such as fur, felt, leather, foam, feathers, etc. If possible, these 2D tactile graphics should have not only similar textures but should also include the unique chararacteristics of the animal or object. Example: A 2D tactile graphic of a bunny might be made out of fur, possibly with a cotton bunny tail and wire whiskers. The tactile graphic should be in the shape of a bunny (often profile view vs. straight on) and should showcase the long bunny ears.

The next step is critical - and yet it is often skipped! The next step is to create raised line drawings, such as these coloring book pages. Raised line drawings are trickier to interpret with your fingers - young students first need to have the basic concepts learned from 3D images, then 2D images before being introduced to raised line images. Raised line concepts are very different, as they typically are marking the outline of the object with some interior lines for details. Students have to interpret what is inside and what the lines indicate. Why are raised line drawings important for a blind student? Think about math concepts - simple bar charts, line charts, geometry shapes, rays, parabolas and more. Don't forget all those O&M maps that start as tactile graphics and move to raised line images. If you really want to stretch your brain, think about digital images - tablets and computers do not have fur, felt, leather, feathers, etc. for tactile graphics. However, sonification (sounds with meaning) is currently being used for digital charts and graphs; and, there is a lot of work currently being done to include sonification into apps designed for young children. (Stay tuned for more information on sonification for younger students and see resources below!) There is also a lot of work being done on full screen braille devices which mirror raised line drawings.)

How does raised line images mirror gen ed class activities? Think again about those kindergarten worksheets and images. Students with vision know that there is a universal symbol for house - basically a square with a triangle roof and possibly rectangular door and square windows. Can your student recognize the simple raised line shape of a house symbol?

Are YOU introducing your young students to raised line images?

Resources

Related Tactile Graphics Machine posts:

Related Sonification posts: