Tactile images enable people to have a touch experience with objects and images that would not normally be accessible to them.
The sense of touch is not comparable to the sense of sight so anything you provide that predominantly uses touch as a means of access will need detailed information to go with it; this is because tactile recognition is not the same as visual recognition.
The key benefits of providing tactile images with braille information are:
- A shared experience – people with and without sight loss can enjoy and interact with the same object in different ways at the same time. The tactile images with braille information help to bring these objects to life and provide additional educational information.
- Authenticity – Tactile images are designed from photographs of actual objects so are very firmly based on the object itself. This means that when a person feels a tactile image, they are interacting with something that is very close to the original in terms of its structure and content.
- Independence – tactile images allow the tactile reader to go at their own pace, spending as long as they like investigating each image and reading the detailed descriptions and information about the object.
- Choice – the tactile reader can choose what they want to interact with and in what order.They can get an overview from the tactile images book about what there is to engage with so that they have control over their own decisions about accessing the information.
- Long shelf life – they can form part of an archive of tactile images that could be used long after the exhibition closes or the item is taken off display.
Working with a student and a director from Portsmouth University, the team at Arthur Conan Doyle Collection chose two archives that related to key elements of the life of Conan Doyle and rendered these into a multi-sensory 3D interpretation. These sit within the ‘cover’ part of a purpose-built display case styled as a hard-back book on a plinth. Sixteen A3 tactile panels fix inside this book structure and provide accessible interpretation of various further elements of the authors story using braille, tactile images and large print. Sound spots which work with the Discovery Pens provide audio description of the contents of the pages. Feedback from visitors has been very positive, showing the combination of tactile images with braille information, as well as other presentation methods works well.
Consider what elements in your venue could be presented as tactile images with braille information? Make a list of possible options and what information or key points would need to be conveyed.
Credit: Zoe Partington and RNIBAll resources