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 theInTACT 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.
Will the student require training to use the tool?
Will it be easy to carry independently for the student?
Is the tool in the school district’s price range? Can it be purchased on Quota Funds?
Several of the tools are available for less than $50 so don’t allow price to deter you!
Any of these tools can be used to produce a negative image on printer paper or Braille paper if you are running low on the specialized paper for each tool.