Creating Digital Images Part 2A: Braille Font and GoodNotes App

Creating a tactile graphic with braille should not be so challenging! In the previous post, Creating Digital Images Part 2: 3 Braille Tips, we learned how to download the free Swell Braille (also known as the Duxbury braille font or simulation braille/Sim Braille) to your computer. This free font was designed specifically for tactile graphics machines such as the Swell and PIAF. I personally find it super easy to use a touch screen device, such as an iPad, to trace a graphic from a mainstream worksheet. . . but the work flow became chunky because the braille font was not available for iOS . . . or so I thought!

I learned that there is a free app that enables you to import any font on your iOS device. . . and not only can you install the Swell Braille font, you can import the Swell Braille font directly into the GoodNotes app! Now, I have a simple work flow when creating my graphic - complete with Braille - all within the GoodNote app!

Adding sim braille to the GoodNotes App

Duxbury created a free braille font specifically for digitally-created tactile graphics designed for a tactile graphic machine. This font is called Swell-Braille by duxbury and it is the font available on the TSBVI website. To install on a computer (PC or Mac) simply click on TSBVI's link and follow the installation prompts. 

To install the Swell-Braille font on iOS, you must go through a font installation app, such as the free iFont app. 

  • Install iFont in the App Store (FREE)
  • From your iPad, click on the Swell Braille.ttf file here.
  • Teacher Hint: I found that the file was easier to find if I emailed it as an attachment to myself. When I emailed it, I simply clicked on the Swell-Braille attachment and said to Open it in GoodNotes. You can also save the font in your files and find it there.)

[Screenshot image of iFont app after selecting "Open in GoodNotes".]

Screenshot of iFont app with annotated arrows pointing to Import and Install buttons.

  • Select Important button and then select the Install button.
  • Follow the prompts - these prompts will take you to Settings > Profile Downloaded > Install Profile screen (select Install Swell Braille Regular). Note: You may have additional steps - if so, just follow the iFont prompts!

[Screenshot of Settings app with with an annotated arrow pointing to Profile Download in the left column. A popup of Install Profile of Swell Braille Regular with an annotated arrow pointing to the Install button in the top right corner of the popup.]

screenshot of Settings app with annotated arrows pointing to Profile Download and Install button.

  • Open GoodNotes app.
  • Create a new document or open an existing document.
  • Tap on the font (default is Helvetica Neue). 
  • Scroll down to "S" and select the braille characters, "Swell Braille" font.
  • Select the font size (default is 24) and change to your desired size.

screenshot of Goodnotes app with the font drop down menu. An annotated arrow points to the Swell Braille font option.

Note: Typically the Swell Braille font is 22 or 23 font size to match the standard braille size; bold is often preferred. (Bold is not an option in GoodNotes.) However, my experience in the GoodNotes app is that 31 font size appears to match the standard braille size. To confirm the desired size, hold up the print page on regular paper (not the capsule page) and a braille page (from an embosser or Perkins Brailler) and compare the braille sizes. When I used the 23 size font on my ink jet printer, the tactile graphics machine did not raise the braille dots enough to read and the dots were very close together. In GoodNotes, I created one page with an image of a square and the word "square" in braille in four different font sizes: 23 font size, 27, 29, and 31. The first time through the PIAF machine the square shape raised easily, but the braille dots did not. After several times through the machine, the braille dots ranged from good tactile dots (31 font size) to almost non-existent tactile dots (23 font size). This is in part because of the ink jet printer - laser printers work best with a tactile graphic machine. 

Attached is the Font Size Comparison page for you to try.