Linguistics Professor Creates Tactile Magnet Board

Linguistics professor at Haverford College creates tactile magnet board to make the study of phonetics accessible to students who are blind.

By Tom Miller

Assistant Professor of Linguistics Brook Danielle Lillehaugen teaches “Phonetics and Phonology” at Haverford College and for the first time, a student who is blind enrolled in the class.  She collaborated with others at the college to create a tactile International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) magnet-board system.  The system uses small embossed tiles, which can be arranged and manipulated on a magnetic board the size of a sheet of notebook paper.  Because it is accessible both visually and tactually, it can be used by anyone in the class and is useful in shared projects.

In December 2014 Lillehaugen publish an article called “A tactile IPA magnet-board system: A tool for blind and visually impaired students in phonetics and phonology classrooms” in the journal Language.

Editor’s note: One reader wrote in to remind people about an excellent resource that is helpful to anyone teaching phonetics to braille readers:  IPA Braille: An Updated Tactile Representation of the International Phonetic Alphabet