I attended a tactile graphics workshop at the National Federation of the Blind (NFB)on April 12 and 13. There were so many exciting workshops I could attend and not enough time. I will be sharing some of my experiences and thoughts on the workshops I attended. Tactile graphics is an emerging area to improve experiences for people who are blind or visually impaired in all areas of life.
Makerbot is a mainstream company that makes affordable 3D printers used in business and education. It has a library of over 36,000 3D images ready to print. The printer uses filament to create the tactile graphic. This could be used in science to create a 3D graphic of a cell, protron, plant…. I went to their exhibit table and looked at some of the items they created with the printer. These included the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, an apple and the Taj Mahal. It has many uses. After returning from the conference, I heard about using a 3D printer to make paintings accessible to people who are blind.
The cost for a Makerbot 3D printer is around $2700.00 and has many uses in education other than only for students who are blind. If your school has a 3D printer talk to school staff about having 3D graphics created for you. Unfortunately, parts of the program are not screen reader friendly at this time but the company is working to change this.