a collage of different tools described in the post

Art in Science: Tools for drawing for students with visual impairment

This blog describes the value of including drawing in science instruction for students with visual impairments and will highlight several available tools.

Many thanks to Scott Baltisberger, TSBVI Outreach and Michael Coleman, EASY LLC for their wisdom on this topic. Please refer to Scott’s excellent webinar, Visual Arts for the Visually Impaired: Drawing for the Blind – Tools and Techniques, on the TSBVI website.  This webinar has been a great resource in writing this blog and I recommend that it be accessed for a more in-depth look at this topic.  Scott speaks in depth about each of the tools I highlight in the blog. In my descriptions of the tools, I made note of where to find his explanation in his webinar.

The Joy of Drawing

As I introduced my students to the InTACT Sketchpad, I noticed an enormous grin surface on the face of one of my students.  He was writing his signature (initials) and remarked emphatically, “I can SEE this!”.  He had never had the opportunity to observe anything he had drawn himself and was overjoyed. He was so excited about this new tool that we spent most of class “playing” with it. 

As a complete non-artist, I don’t think that I have thoroughly contemplated the benefit of drawing both for sighted students and for students with visual impairment.  This event and my subsequent research has convinced me that often students with visual impairment miss out on valuable learning experiences when we do not encourage them to draw.

Tactile drawing tools are available which produce either a positive or a reverse image. A positive image is produced when the images rises from the paper producing an image like the image drawn.  A negative image is produced when the “image” is pressed into the paper and is “observed” from the other side of the paper tactually.  Most of the tools produced currently produce a positive image. When considering the best tool for a student, it is important to keep in mind portability and ease of use as well as price and versatility.  


Helpful Hints:

The Tools

Tools are listed with a brief description and the location within the above webinar containing information on each.  For more detailed information please see the review links. 

Positive Image Tools

  1. Draftsman from APH
Draftsman from APH
Draftsman from APH
  1. InTACT SketchPad from E.A.S.Y. LLC
inTACT sketchpad
inTACT sketchpad
  1. Sensational Blackboard
sensational blackboard
Sensational Blackboard
  1. Sewell EZ Write N Draw Raise Line Drawing Kit
Sewell E-Z Write N Draw Raise Line Drawing Kit with Clip
Sewell E-Z Write N Draw Raise Line Drawing Kit with Clip
  1. TactiPad
  1. Swail Dot Inverter
swail dot inverter
Swail Dot Inverter

  1. Quick Draw Paper from APH
quick draw paper
Quick Draw Paper

Negative Image Tools 

  1. Raised-Line Drawing Board
raised line drawing board
Raised-Line Drawing Board
  1. APH Tactile Graphics Kit
APH tactile graphics kit
Tactile Graphics Kit

Low Cost Tools

  1. Tracing wheel
  1. Aluminum foil

By Laura Hospitál

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