Dimensions: Community Tools for Making Tactile Graphics & Objects

Project Introduction

We all need to understand maps, diagrams, images and other spatial information. For people who learn and work nonvisually, getting access to quality graphics and 3D models can be hard. Our project empowers library patrons to make access happen with free, hands-on training about best practices in tactile design and free, accessible hardware and software that anyone can use to start designing. 

In addition to our formal workshops, we welcome the opportunity to work with groups and individuals by appointment. Please reach out to ChanceyFleet@nypl.org to schedule an orientation to our tactile graphics lab. 

For a more in-depth introduction to the project, read our blog post Announcing Dimensions: Community Tools for Creating Tactile Graphics & Objects.


A Note for Users of Accessibility Features

We have selected the most accessible software and hardware we could find on the market, and all skillbuilding workshops will incorporate techniques that work for users of screen readers, magnification and other accessibility features and programs. Training on both the visually-based and non-visual interfaces will be provided.


Get Involved: Free Skillbuilding Workshops

Throughout Winter 2017-2018, the Library will offer a set of three skillbuilding workshops around tactile graphics. Registration is required. If you are interested in attending both the 2d and 3d Basics, we strongly recommend that you attend one of the Tactile Tactics: Best Practices for Tactile Design sessions.

Please RSVP to chanceyfleet@nypl.org or 212-621-0627. For a full list of workshops and events at the Heiskell Library see our calendar.


Workshops Offered:

3D Pen Drawing Workshops

Work with the 3Doodler to create raised-line drawings, 3d art objects, and practical labels. 

3D Printing: Inclusive Tools, Accessible Models

Please plan to attend both sessions. Learn how to use 3D printing software (including TinkerCad and OpenScad) to create models to 3D print. We’ll introduce you to important concepts for 3D printing, how the printer works, and how to design whether you work visually or non-visually. We’ll also get to work with prototypes for new accessible design tools.


Tactile Tactics: Best Practices for Tactile Design

Join Annie Leist, Disability Inclusion Associate at the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, for a workshop designed to get you thinking about how to design effective and meaningful tactile graphics and models to engage people with and without vision. Explore the differences between visual and tactile experience, and learn how to use that awareness to thoughtfully plan, create, and select successful tactile representations and objects to serve constituents and engage audiences. You’ll also review strategies on how to implement the tactiles well, and how context can impact a tactile’s meaning.  Stay tuned for the next round of this workshop, or contact us to request it. 

2D Tactile Graphics Software and Embosser Basics

Learn how to use TactileView software to import images and prepare them to be embossed, or to create your own designs from scratch (by drawing or using menu-driven design). Get to know the Index Everest embosser that turns your designs, maps or graphs into tactile images. Discover catalogs of ready-to-emboss tactile designs that you can download and modify according to your needs.  Stay tuned for the next round of this workshop, or contact us to request it.

3D Printing Basics with Accessibility in Mind

Come learn about the Lulzbot Taz 6 3d printer, Cura 3d printing software, and several options for 3d design. Find out how to choose and use different filament types, operate and maintain the equipment, download 3d model files and design your own. Stay tuned for the next round of this workshop, or contact us to request it


Equipment Available for Community Use

To learn more or make an appointment to reserve equipment contact Chancey Fleet at chanceyfleet@nypl.org or 212-621-0627. 

  • Index Everest-D V5 Braille Embosser
  • TactileView computer aided design (CAD) software: import images and prepare them for tactile, or design your own!
  • LulzBot Taz 6 3d printer
  • Cura software (for printing with the Lulzbot 3d printer)
  • Sensational Blackboard
  • E.A.S.Y. Tactile Drawing Tablet
  • 3Doodler start low-temperature 3d printing pens
  • Book and brochure binding machine 
  • Swellform machine for creating raised and textured inkprints with color elements
  • Sensational blackboards for raised-line drawing on regular paper


Tactile Floor plan of the Heiskell Library's first floor with braille   Embossed outline of the United Stated of America   Tactile embossed stylized sun with face

Shared Files:

BPX Downloads

External Resources on Tactile Graphics and Objects:

The Diagram Center

Paths to Literacy  on making your own tactile books for early literacy

American Action Fund's Tactile Art Program