Dimensions: Community Tools for Making Tactile Graphics & Objects


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 or call 212-206-5400, extension 3, 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 skill building 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.


Free Skillbuilding Workshops

Please contact chanceyfleet@nypl.org to talk over your project if you’re not sure what equipment you need, or would like support with using the equipment. Individual and group orientations are available on demand, usually within a week after you inquire. Group workshops on accessible drawing and art, accessible design through code, and tactile literacy appear regularly on 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

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. 

Tactile Tactics: Best Practices for Tactile Design

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. Discover strategies on how to implement tactiles well, and how context can impact a tactile’s meaning.  

2D Tactile Graphics Software and Embosser Basics

Learn how to use TactileView and Tiger Designer 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 and Columbia Embossers that turn 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.  

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 and Tiger Designer computer aided design (CAD) software: import images and prepare them for tactile, or design your own!
  • LulzBot Taz 6 and Ultimaker 3 3d printers
  • Cura software (for printing with the Lulzbot 3d printer)
  • OpenScad (for accessible 3D design via code)
  • Sensational Blackboards (for quick, affordable tactile drafting by hand)
  • 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
  • Thermoform machine (for creating graphics from collage or copying Braille and graphic materials)


Tactile Floor plan of the Heiskell Library's first floor with braille     Tactile embossed stylized sun with face

3 swellform images of raised black lines on tan paper, one of a snake with it's forked tongue sticking out, one of the cursive alphabet, and one of Egyptian Heiroglyphs     A black trunk sits open, inside it we see protective foam surrounds various 3-d printed objects such as cuneiform tablets, a plaster hand, a reproduction in wood-type material of an African bust, and a sculpture of a man on a horse

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