Paths to Literacy

for students who are blind or visually impaired

Braille Art as a Stepping Stone to Tactile Graphics

Braille art as a stepping stone to tactile graphics

Braille art is fun and can provide a meaningful stepping stone into the world of tactile graphics for students. Perkins' book Drawing With Your Perkins Brailler is a fantastic tool to use! There are 36 directions with an accompanying braille image with it. I have quite a few patterns for braille art images, but none have the accompanying braille image with it. I don’t always know what they’ll look like until I’m done brailling it and then the image may have errors in it or is not what I want.


braille Christmas tree




That being said, I’ve taken the images one step farther. I’ll have the student braille the image and then add to it. It provides the opportunity to discuss what the purpose of the image is, what is important in the image, and what materials are needed to make the image. I feel this is vitally important as tactile graphics will become a mainstay in their academic career. It is my personal belief once they understand what goes into creating a graphic and make them, reading them in curricular materials will make more sense.


braille art with chicken feathers


In the examples on this page, my student and I created a braille picture of a chicken, and then added feathers and chicken food.  In the other image, we created a Christmas tree and added ornaments and presents.  Both of these allowed me to reinforce the meaning of the images and extend the braille art with additional tactile materials.



braille art collage



Wonderful Idea

Posted by Kathi Loudon

"So What About Drawing"

Posted by LInda Brown

Sample Pages from Drawing With Your Perkins Brailler,

Posted by Charlotte Cushman


Posted by Liz Eagan Satter

Brushes the surface of an important area of need...

Posted by bltsbrgr

Posted on February 7, 2014
Updated on: February 21, 2018

Previous comments for Braille Art as a Stepping Stone to Tactile Graphics

eleagan commented on February 27, 2014

Bitsbrgr, you are absolutely correct. It is up to us to advocate for the student to be in these classes. I've purchased some art books that I loan out to the art teacher and I meet with them once a month to assist them in finding ways to ensure my students are actively engaged in a meaningful way. Here's the books:

  • "Beyond the Limits" from the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston
  • "Art Beyond Sight: A Resource Guide to Art, Creativity, and Visual Impairment" from AFB
  • "Start with the Arts"from VSA (Very Special Arts)
  • "Hailstones and Halbut Bones" by Mary O'Neill

The last book I learned about from an art teacher.She was using it to teach my student about color. Great poems that discribes colors that includes the senses.

The VSA art book has art actiities designed for a student with special needs. You see each activity clearly described. Following it is directions on how to modify or the VI student or MI, for example.

There are also some great articles out there online that you can grab. Go to and search for 'art' you'll see some nice articles to share with the art teacher and family.

bltsbrgr commented on February 27, 2014

Development of expressive two-dimensional art skills is an often-overlooked, poorly addressed aspect of the development of young students who are blind. Consider the critical and ubiquitous role that drawing, coloring and scribbling play in the early development of literacy among sighted children. Pre-school and early elementary classes are filled with activities that engage the creative side of students in an active way.  It is through this kind of involvement that understandings of symbolic representation, spatial organization and the power of images to tell a story or express a feeling begin to emerge.

Blind children are often exempted from in-class art activities with the rationale that drawing and coloring are "too visual".  The blind child misses out not only on an opportunity to learn and/or practice an important academic concept but is also isolated from the social interactions of the rest of the class, who share amongst themselves the meanings of their creations.  However, with prior direct instruction in basic principles of two-dimensional tactile art, the blind child can easily produce work that is as detailed and expressive as that of his or her peers.

I've found very little in the way of materials or information to address this area. Teachers of students with visual impairments are largely obligated to invent curricula or resort to teaching tactile graphics in a manner that involves students in a mainly passive role - that of identifying images rather than creating them.  This approach has negative impacts for the blind student in the academic and social realms as I described above.

In this article, I really like how the student was made a more active participant in the exercises through the modifications described. I hope to continue to see similar posts here on Paths to Literacy that address how we might better teach the artistic and creative needs of our students.

Liz Eagan Satter commented on February 10, 2014

Thanks, Charlotte! This helps to better explain what I mentioned in my post.

Charlotte@Perkins commented on February 10, 2014

Some of you have requested to see some sample pages from Drawing With Your Perkins Brailler, by Kim Charlson.  Here are a few examples:

kitten drawn with Perkins brailler







freight train directions

freight train in braille art

Click to enlarge images below.









angel project instructions

angel project in braille art










LInda Brown commented on February 9, 2014

Check out this book you can find online There are 30 drawings with printed images for each drawing. I love the idea of embellishing the image by adding to it! Very cool idea! Thanks for sharing!

Perhaps those other directions you indicated you have could be sent to Perkins or somewhere. Wouldn't it be great for several more books to buy?

Kathi Loudon commented on February 7, 2014

I hadn't heard of this book or braille art. How very cool!! This is my third year as a TVI and I am struggling in finding ways to engage my braille students. This might just do it! You said there are others than the 36 in the book? Guess I'll be doing a search on the topic. And what a great way to teach tactile graphics! This is perhaps my weakest areas. Love, love, love this! I see you've posted other things...time to go check them out!