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Activity and strategy

Student Mentor Learning to Create Tactile Graphics

Dual media learners can create tactile graphics and serve as mentors to braille students

I have a 4th grade dual media learner who serves as a mentor for my 2nd grade braille student. She often creates materials for him and one of her IEP goals for this school year is to create tactile graphics.  When I was given a sheet about orchestra seating to adapt for the 2nd grade student, I thought this would be a great way for the older student to practice her skills creating tactile graphics.

Identifying Key Points in an Illustration

One of the first steps in creating tactile graphics is to identify which elements are essential to convey.  Some images are decorative and do not enhance the understanding of the text, whereas other images are central to the meaning behind the concept. To better understand what the music teacher was trying to convey through this document, the 4th grader decided to meet with her, as she thought that there was just too much on that page.

The 4th grader began by bralling all of the text and laying the words out in a straight line in three rows. Again, she checked with the music teacher to confirm that this would work before gluing the labels in place. Together they rearranged them from rows to semicircles. Then the music teacher added more details (e.g. strings, brass, conductor). The 4th grade braille mentor had to decide how to make the circles around each section. Together we decided puff paint would be the best and each circle had to be different.  She asked me to do the paint section, but directed my every movement. 

Musical tactile graphic
Tactile graphic of orchestra seating

The end result is above. The young 2nd grader is now accessing the seating chart in class with his peers. To aid him to understand the meaning to the vocabulary, the music teacher has asked the middle school band teacher to lend the instruments she doesn’t have on the elementary campus. 

One of the benefits of this is that my 4th grade student who is mentoring learned that she doesn’t have to have all the answers.  She now knows that she can ask questions to verify information before she proceeds.  She also learned that having someone check our work is a good thing to be sure that we were communicating the information that was most important. It was a win-win project!

Collage of creating tactile graphics: empowering student mentors
United State flag

United States Flag Braille Art Design


Ideas for Teaching Tracking and other Tactile Skills

Alphabox showing an apple in the position of dot 1 in a braille cell
Activity and strategy