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Activity and strategy

Layers of the Earth Tactile Graphics

Tactile graphics with braille labels help to make a science activity about the layers of the Earth accessible to students who are blind, deafblind or visually impaired.

My son Liam is a third grader in a mainstream classroom.  He is deafblind and a braille reader. I am currently working towards my masters degree in Special Education specializing in Vision Impairments.   The assignment for one of my courses was to create a tactile graphic that tied to science standards. I asked my son’s case manager if there were any science worksheets that included tactile graphics they would like me to modify for Liam’s use. I wanted a worksheet that will match what they are doing in class sometime this year. (They have their hands full keeping up with modifying activities, worksheets, and books for Liam. His team does an awesome job with making sure his materials are accessible!) He gave me quite a few suggestions, but I chose a worksheet about “Layers of the Earth”. The students will use this worksheet to create a little “booklet” that shows the layers of the Earth.
two black line worksheets to present the layers of the Earth
I used a different type of textured paper to represent each layer of the Earth. I also created an additional page of the “booklet” to include a key that was written in braille. I did not attach the pages together yet because they will do that  together as a class.  The way they “attach” the pages will help with the orientation of the graphics. Now Liam will be able to participate in this class activity in a way that is accessible to him. 
Liam feeling the different textures on a key of the different textures in the tactile graphic        Liam feeling the different textures representing the different layers of Earth
  1. Cut out all of the “circles” and glue them onto cardstock paper.
  2. Trace the map of the Earth with puffy paint and label it in braille.
  3. Create a seperate Key page that shows the layers of the Earth and the textured paper that correlates with each layer.  
  4. Add a different textured paper for each layer of the Earth.  

different textures represent different layers of Earth        Liam feeling the tactile graphic representing the top layer of the Earth

Other possible options for modifying this worksheet:
  • The textured paper could have been cut out ahead of time but not attached. The student could attach the textured paper himself while the other kids color their paper.
  • Instead of textured paper, the lines that separate the layers could be traced in puffy paint (to create a raised line) and the students could color in the layers themselves. They could place a different screen underneath the worksheet, so that a different raised pattern will show through each layer.  


Editor’s Note:  There are other examples of activities to make the layers of the Earth accessible to students who are blind or deafblind on the Accessible Science site:

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