3D printed audio-tactile graphics

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This article introduces a set of recommendations which is intended for educators, designers, makers, or others who want to create inclusive materials for a wider range of students, including and with a greater focus on blind students. Specifically, the recommendations are aimed at developing audio-tactile graphics that are 3D printed.

The information on these pages won’t make you an expert on the subject, but it will help you understand the process of planning, producing and using audio-tactile graphics. We encourage you to access the related resources, seek out more information, and chat with colleagues whenever possible.

What are audio-tactile graphics?

Audio-tactile graphics are interactive materials that use touch and hearing to inform their users. They are similar to tactile graphics, with the difference that the interaction takes place through two sensory channels, rather than just touch. It is an alternative presentation for visual information and, therefore, is accessible to people with visual impairments, especially to the blind. Some possible applications:

The possibilities are huge! However, the recommendations presented here are aimed at inclusive education.

Why a 3D printed audio-tactile graphic?

3D printing is a process of creating a three-dimensional physical object from a digital model. It is a suitable technology for the development of inclusive materials, even more so with the growth of the maker movement, which seeks to empower the community to create and share their own projects.

A 3D printed audio-tactile graphic is an inclusive material, which has a decentralized production, on a small scale basis, according to the needs of each one. It can be created within a community, shared digitally and reproduced elsewhere.

What is the relation of the audio-tactile graphic to inclusive design and education?

3D printed audio-tactile graphics can be great teaching materials not only for blind students but also for a wider range of students, even those without disabilities. By eliminating barriers to information access, everyone benefits.

These are materials that can be developed with and for the community, produced with low-cost technologies and shared for free on the web.

Read more about the 45 recommendations

Further information on the topic.


These recommendations are the result of the doctoral thesis by Emilia Christie Picelli Sanches, from the Design Graduate Program (PPGDesign), at the Federal University of Paraná (UFPR) and with the collaboration of the Inclusive Design Research Center (IDRC) at OCAD University. The research was funded by the Brazilian Federal Foundation for Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education (CAPES).

The following are part of the project:

The project is constantly evolving. If you have suggestions, comments or want to collaborate, please contact us by email at emiliapicelli@ufpr.br.

Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.