HOW TO make a tactile image using iPad, Goodnotes and Swell Machine, part 7

Video #7 in the Providing Tactile Graphic Rich Environment series: How to create quick tactile images to put into books or projects.

Index finger tracing a tactile graphic image of a snake.

This is the 7th video post on providing tactile graphic rich environments for preschool and elementary students. This post will focus on how to create a durable raised line drawing using a PIAF or Swell machine.

A swell graphics machine is a great tool for creating quick tactile graphics. With drawing apps on an iPad or tablet, we have a quick way to create a drawing and print it on to swell paper so it can be run through a swell machine. 

Tactile graphics don’t have to be just for big projects. Even a simple drawing on the cover of a book gives the braille reader something interesting on the cover which also helps identify the book. In the case of young readers, they will likely identify a familiar image before they can fully decode the book title in braille. This is the way it works for young print readers also. Every tactile graphic is worth the time and will allow another opportunity to explore with the tactile learner and discuss features found in the picture. Fluency with tactile representations is built when combined with discussion, familiarity, and interest. Connections to real and representational objects and focus on salient features will build understanding of the tactile lines, dots, shapes and textures under their fingers. The student will build recognition of common details in tactile drawings such as seeing two pointy ears and knowing it’s a cat. Or they will recognize a house made of a triangle on top of a square. Or they may know if the story is at nighttime or daytime based on a crescent moon shape and stars or the round circle of the sun at the top of a page. These vital interactions also allow the teacher to learn the unique way their student is making meaning from tactile imagery so that experiences and instruction can be designed to support the student’s literacy.

This is making a tactile image using an iPad Apple pencil and good notes or other stylus and drawing app. 

1. Pull up an image from an online search. You can search black line drawings. 

Or if you have print copy of something you want to make into a tactile image, you can take a picture right from Goodnotes (then jump to step 4). 

2. Take a screen shot. 

3. Open Goodnotes and start a new document with the image option and open your screenshot you just made. 

4. Trace the image with your stylus (you are basically annotating the PDF but we will just keep the annotation). 

5. Use the lasso tool to copy annotation. Choose lasso and then circle the image. After you’ve circled it, choose copy. Open up a new Goodnotes document and paste it. 

Apple Pencil using the Lasso Tool in the Goodnotes app to circle the snake image.

6. Print your drawing onto swell paper 

7. Run your swell paper through the PIAF or American Thermoform machine 

8. If you are putting the tactile image in a book or in a project, use a glue stick cover the complete back of the image and after you place it down, rub it so it is well adhered (a piece of paper over makes this easy). This way the image feels good on the page without loose edges and the book or project will last a long time.

Tactile graphic image of a snake adhered to the braille book, Snakes by Seymour Simon.

7 HOW TO Make a tactile image using iPad and Goodnotes and Swell Machine Video:


By Jessica McDowell

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