Photo of braille Ospreys book with tactile image of an osprey and text

Creating PIAF Tactile Images: Graphic Book Cover

Why should braille students have tactile book covers and how do you make them?


Put a graphic on cover of a book for elementary reader from an image found online.


Why take the extra time: Having an image on the book creates an interesting and unique cover. A PIAF graphic is also visual so it is accessible to blind student and teacher, librarian, and peers which leads to greater opportunities for social connections. Our kids get “plain braille” with all pictures and visually engaging images and design elements removed. Having a tactile image on the cover of a book that doesn’t have other graphics can at least be the springboard for discussing concepts. Preview and “priming the pump” in this way is important for our students who don’t have foundational concepts through incidental learning. Grabbing a visual image to turn into a tactile one may not create an ideal tactile graphic based on tactile graphic design guidelines. But for this purpose, there is benefit to providing a graphic.

drawing of a ospreys and a braille label in a book

Ideas for supporting student: Even one osprey graphic on cover of this book can lead to discussing concepts like large wings, big talons, type of beak and other features. The braille reader could also do this independently with a friend who sees the graphic. Student will generate questions. In this case, the goal is not that the student can independently recognize details on a complex tactile image. The graphic provides a shared reference and discussion will help build background knowledge. Now the student is curious and ready to read the informational text about ospreys. Through discussion, key words that the student will see in the book have been previewed and student will have an easier time drawing on context while trying to decode the text.


Do a Google image search for a simple drawing. Search terms like “clip art,” “line drawing,” and “black and white” help. There are also filters in Google that help, for instance “coloring pages” filter shows very simplified options. Download or do a screenshot of the image. Paste in word document or process in a way that allows you to print the size you would like. Print onto PIAF paper or plain paper and copy onto PIAF paper. Run through PIAF. Trim if needed. Tape or glue on paper or book cover. If taping, cover all edges to create smooth edge that feels nice and doesn’t catch on other papers. If gluing, fill the whole back of graphic with glue stick (purple glue stick helps you visually judge you have good coverage). Especially check that the edges are covered and press down carefully when pasting; insure all edges have bonded.

a screenshot of a google images search for osprey drawings


By Jessica McDowell

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