Paths to Literacy

for students who are blind or visually impaired

Make Your Own Tactile Vest

Child wearing tactile vest

The Challenge:  

I had a student who didn't have much movement.  Her arms were usually bent at the elbow with hands semi-fisted at her chest.  I wanted her to explore. How could I keep things always available to her without having them fall away?  The Tactile Vest was born! It’s an easy on/easy off solution.  

Making the Vest:

The vest is made by using an old T-shirt and attaching velcro compatible fabric, also called “Veltex”.  It’s the same fabric found on an Invisiboard. I used a sewing machine to attach the fabric.   This provides a sturdy, washable vest.  A fabric spray adhesive is another option. I’m just not sure how durable it would be.  
Open vestMaking a tactile vest

Using the Vest:  

I’m able to create a variety of tactile goodies for a student to use.   I vary the available textures so one might be smooth, one rough, and one that makes some type of noise. Items are easy to attach using Velcro and personalized to meet the needs of the student.   Items can be changed quickly with the daily routine: sensory items for massage time, thematic items used at literacy circle, and by attaching a switch it can be used as a leisure activity for playing music or operating a toy, etc.
Variety of tactile materials on VeltexTactile materials on Veltex
This is a great way to check for tactile preferences. I keep one item the same (familiar) and expand by adding one new (unfamiliar) item.  I then observe:
  • How long does it take to become familiar?
  • What are the preferences?  
  • What about positioning?
  • Where will she touch?
  • If I move a preferred item will she reach a little further to touch it?  
  • How long will she be interested in an item?

Just a few questions to get you started!

Child wearing tactile vest


*The green polka-dot bean bag is actually a rice bag that can be heated in the microwave to add “warm” for concept development.
For more information on activity vests, see also:  Active Learning Space


Pinterest collage of tactile vest


Tactile Vest

Posted by Mary Vaughn

Tactile Vest

Posted by Cheryl Petree

What a great idea, I have

Posted by Joy

Tactile Vest

Posted by Lisa Rodler

Posted on August 22, 2016
Updated on: February 7, 2018

Previous comments for Make Your Own Tactile Vest

Lisa Rodler commented on July 15, 2017

What a brilliant idea!!! I have made a sensory "mat" that I can place on lap trays when students are in various types of equipment. I had one child that could not go in equipment and this would have been perfect for her!! I wish I would have seen this a few months ago, as now she is moving up to the next grade level and will no longer be with me. I will however, be making at least 2 of these for my new babies coming up!

Joy commented on January 19, 2017

What a great idea, I have used the same concept for mat trays but never thought of a bib!

Cheryl Petree commented on August 24, 2016

What a creative way to allow students to access their world and become familiar with the unfamiliar! Great job!

Mary Vaughn commented on August 24, 2016

This is such an AWESOME idea!!! Thank you so much for being an out of the box thinker!