Change Makers: A Podcast from APH

Tactile Graphics

November 24, 2021 American Printing House Episode 42
Change Makers: A Podcast from APH
Tactile Graphics
Show Notes Transcript

As National Family Literacy Month winds down, Change Makers is discussing tactile literacy. Listen as we learn more about how tactile images are created, recent upgrades to APH’s Tactile Graphic Image Library, what APH products encourage tactile literacy and the process of teaching students tactile literacy.

Participants (In Order of Appearance)

  • Sara Brown, APH Public Relations Manager
  • Sally Hart, APH Tactile Graphics Designer
  • Karen Poppe, APH Tactile Literacy Product Manager
  • Donna McClure-Rogers, APH Early Childhood Product Manager
  • Elizabeth McCann, Teaching Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, CPD Coordinator for Visual Impairment at Scottish Sensory Center


Additional Links:

Jack Fox:

Welcome to change makers, a podcast from APH. We're talking to people from around the world who are creating positive change in the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired. Here's your host.

Sara Brown:

Hello, and welcome to Change Makers. I'm APH's Public Relations Manager, Sara Brown and today we're continuing the conversation about National Family Literacy Month. The last podcast discussed braille literacy with books and products. Now we're shifting to tactile graphics. We're going to talk about tactile literacy, learn more about our tactile graphic image library in ways to create graphics for children. Up first, we have APH's Tactile Graphics Designer, Sally Hart . Hello, Sally, and welcome to Change Makers.

Sally Hart:

Hi, thank you for having me.

Sara Brown:

Can you talk about the importance of tactile literacy?

Sally Hart:

Yes. Tactile graphics, deliver information through touch. So just like literacy and numeracy, the process of reading, understanding and gaining knowledge from tactile graphics is something that must be taught. A braille reader needs to learn how to read braille and how to read tactile graphics. It's two different skill sets. So knowing the braille symbols and what the dot formations represent will not automatically make the symbols used on a diagram clear. Ideally , tactile graphics need to be introduced early because early experience, is the start of a solid foundation. Knowing how to systematically approach an image is vital. Not to be overwhelmed by that data, understanding the information contained in charts and graphs, diagrams, and maps that allows a reader to confidently participate in classroom and work settings. We live in a very visual world with visual information everywhere. As a print reader, I had to be taught how to approach and interpret visual information and the same needs to be done for the technical reader.

Sara Brown:

Your APH's tactile graphics designer. How did you get into that?

Sally Hart:

I was actually learning and studying to do medical transcription. Yeah , it's going somewhere. And I quickly learned that I didn't like it. And then I met a lady. Her name was Jan Carol . She worked at the American Printing House for the Blind and she was telling me about braille transcription. And I thought, "okay, this is interesting. This is awesome. This is something I want to be a part of." And then I saw tactile graphics. I've always loved maps and have always been drawn to the visual information. You know, if you have , um, you know, how to put together a piece of furniture, I'd rather look at the pictures and read the words. So once I was introduced to tactile graphics, I was hooked. So that's, that's how I got in the field.

Sara Brown:

Can you tell us about the work that you do as the graphics designer?

Sally Hart:

Well , um, APH is full of dedicated people and many different departments who are focused on tech graphics. I worked directly with two of them in the accessible test and textbook department, under director Jane Thompson . And like most folks, I wear a few hats, but my core job is to review. And when needed, improve the readability of images submitted for textbooks. I think my department is a fun group, but we take this editing process really serious. We recognize that a transcription is not considered complete without tactile graphics. And so I am tasked with checking their quality. I'm just one piece of the puzzle that makes a student receive quality textbooks.

Sara Brown:

Can you explain the process of creating a tactile graphic? What's that like?

Sally Hart:

Uh, tactical graphics are representations and that's a key word. They are representations of pictorial information and relief form of which the concept and the content are represented by a set of tactile symbols. They are selected for their ability to easily be identified and understood. So those symbols fall under four categories, four components that make up all tactile graphics. You have your area textures, lines, point symbols and braille . Now in the process of what to put, where and specific settings or materials that's going to depend on your output method. That means there are different requirements in materials, equipment. If you are creating a collage display, then if you are electronically drawing for microcapsule fuser method, or for a high resolution graphic embosser. So there are lots of variables that go into the drawing process, but what doesn't change is the thinking and the planning that is focused on the touch alone. Polly Edman and her book, "Tactile Graphics," I really that book, it sums it up pretty well. I think when she wrote, "the main ingredient for good picture making is you. The important factors are how you think and both with your mind and your fingers." So can you put yourself in a place of your reader and how can you represent that information so that the important facts are clearly understood and unnecessary details are omitted. I like that in question, because visual perception works differently than tactile perception. So merely raising what you see in print above the surface of the paper is not going to automatically make it readable. When you create a tactile graphic, you must find a way to deliver that information in a manner that's understandable to the braille reader. It is done with simplification elimination, distortion and the separation methods that are set forth in the guidelines and standards for tactile graphics. This is a publication that was a joint effort by different organizations compiled by the Braille Authority of North America. It is to provide best practices and design principles to produce consistent tactile graphics . So this is a good place to start and it will introduce you to the basics and the four components along with a planning sheet to help you keep organized.

Sara Brown:

APH has the Tactile Graphic Image Library, tell us more about what it is, what it does, what it provides and how people can access it?

Sally Hart:

Yeah, the Tactile Graphic Image Library. Um , a lot of times just called "TGIL" because it's shorter, is a free service provided by the American Printing House for the Blind. I am the administrator of the TGIL and I'm happy to say that it continues to grow with more assets and more users every year. This library service can be used by teachers, transcribers, parents, basically anyone anywhere to create standalone tactile graphics, or to supplement existing material. The TGIL website is imagelibrary.aph.org. It offers quick and free registration. Might I say everything about the library is free. You can register for free, download for free, free, free, free. Um , so after establishing an account, you will have access to over 2,000 editable, downloadable images that are ready for customization. Now, some images are detailed graphics, including braille labels, images of animal cells, atomic structures, life cycles and we've got printing greeting cards , um, that are this way. However, most provide just great starting points for you to create your own. That would be grids, country outlines, bone structure, shapes, things like that. And you can, and you really should adapt each graphic to fit your need and the image you are trying to represent. So go explore the library, visit imagelibrary.aph.org, or on APH's main website. You can find us under the "resources" tab.

Sara Brown:

And I know the Tactile Graphic Image Library just got an upgrade. Can you tell us more about that?

Sally Hart:

Yes, yes we did. Um, we've got a terrific new look. We've got a new logo. We've got a new URL, but we still have the 2,000 free images. What will be super helpful for users is we have a production method page. If you select this tab, it's going to tell you how to use the tactile graphic image library with collage. It's going to tell you how to use it with electronic drawing. We have resources on that page that will give you information on APH Pix Blaster and their page blaster, and just a few side notes on , um, things to look out for when you're drawing electronically. So that's the production method page. We have our contact APH page as always. We would love to hear from you. If you have questions, image ideas, comments require technical support. You can email us. Um, that email address has not changed. It's TgFeedback@aph.org. Another helpful tab...at least that's what we're hoping for is our "resources" page. It will give you the link to, as I have talked about the "Guidelines and Standards for Technical Graphics." It has a link to Tactile Skills Matrix. This is a site on APH.org, and I really like it. You can use this resource to locate APH products that support the development of skills and concepts that contribute to a student's talk to literacy. So definitely something to look into you . We've got a Braille Blaster link apps and training webinars, and these are all of the TGIL series and the tactile graphics series that was originally done for Access Academy. So you can find all that information on there. And when you look at the assets, you can view by category and it has a different view . So the thumbnail images, if that's what you're using or bigger and easier to see . So yeah, lots of upgrades.

Sara Brown:

Do you have any tips or suggestions for people at home to make tactile graphics and images?

Sally Hart:

In short, a tactical graphic should provide equivalent information to the braille reader, just as the print version does for the sighted reader. Now that can seem daunting if you are new to tactile graphics or you haven't done them in a while, the best method for learning how to prepare a tactile graphic comes from training experience and from constructive feedback from other technical graphic designers and the graphic reader. So my suggestion is to do those things, to gain experience organizations, such as NBA, AER, along with others, offer yearly conferences. APH's own Access Academy offers live webinars throughout the year, and they are recorded. One of those recorded series is about tactile graphics. That series contains a TGIL specific recording. So if you would like a more detailed look at the library and how to use it with a free drawing software program, the access academy archive is the place to find it. The best tip I can give you is to seek out trainings, find a mentor, proofread your work and create it for the fingertips. You will improve with proper training experience and feedback.

Sara Brown:

And is there anything else you'd like to add regarding tactile graphics or literacy?

Sally Hart:

Well, we have talked about tactile graphics and what they are and their importance. I would like to mention what tactile graphics are not. There are activities that require a textile reader to "read the story presented entirely in pictures." They have some that circle , the drawings that start with a certain sound task that require visual discrimination or visual identification are not readily recognized and interpreted by the braille reader. No diagram should be routinely admitted. If a comprehensible method can be found to, to make it tactile, but not all instructional objectives can be achieved as presented to the braille reader, because again, visual and tactile perception work differently. The guidelines and standards for tactile graphics, which you can download from RealAuthority.com has a decision tree that will help you decide if the image is appropriate for tactile graphic. I think I would like to close with the reminder that best educational practices include adapting images and materials and providing alternative activities that are going to support the braille reader and acquiring the skills of literacy and numeracy and graphics. See , we have to do this together.

Sara Brown:

We'll be sure to put links to the tactile graphics image library in the show notes, as well as the email address. So you can send feedback. Sally, thank you so much for joining me on Change Makers today.

Sally Hart:

It's been a pleasure. Thank you.

Sara Brown:

Now we have APH is Tactile Literacy Product Manager, Karen Poppe, and APH is Early Childhood Product Manager, Donna McClure-Rogers. Hello, Karen and Donna, and welcome to Change Makers.

Karen Poppe:

Hey Sara.

Donna McClure-Rogers:

Hi Sara

Sara Brown:

What are some important tactile literacy skills and what are some APH products that support the development of those skills?

Karen Poppe:

Okay, so Sara, this Karen , um, so let's just touch briefly on the basics of technical literacy. Significant effort and time go into designing the best possible type of graphics for students with visual impairments and blindness. We always make sure that the graphics are designed according to establish standards and guidelines. However, all this effort and work is pointless and wasted if we do not prepare students at an early age for the meaningful interpretation and reading of tactful displays. Tactile skills are not automatically present or just because a student lacks vision, tactile skills need to be intentionally developed and practiced. We also need to cultivate a young child's interest and enjoyment in tactical graphics through purposeful exposure to an assortment of graphic displays. Now, keep in mind that mastering tactile skills will play an important role later in a student's educational career as they encounter tactile graphics and many textbooks and standardized tests. These skills will also continue to be critical and useful as they explore tactical graphics as adults. Preparation for successful tactile graphic interpretation does not begin with direct use of tactile graphics. Instead, we want to start with purposeful exploration of real objects. The first essential step to tackle understanding is encouraging early and varied hands on experiences with real objects within functional and meaningful context. A child needs to actively explore and handle real objects. When the objects are fully in reach and safe to explore, and identify salient features of the objects. For example, you don't want a tactile drawing of an apple to proceed or supplant a child's actual handling and firsthand experience with the real apple. A child needs to explore the apple's overall shape, explore the stem, feel the weight of the apple, compare it to other apples and enjoy its unique smell and taste. A rich foundation of concepts is essential prior to using tactile graphics, an example of an APH product then encourages purposeful exploration of real objects is "Setting the Stage for Tactile Understanding." Within this kit, I've included 12 real objects, such as a cup, a spoon, a cube, a ball and a toothbrush, but the child can actively handle and explore and identify unique characteristics. For example, the circular rim of a cup, the flexible bristles of a toothbrush, the flat sides of a block and so on. In doing so, they can build an understanding of various attributes and characteristics related to shape texture, contour, temperature, weight, hardness and more. They also learn to use their hands together in a purposeful manner as they explore each object and learn to recognize it and compare it to other objects. The child then learns that real objects in their world and environment can be represented by simplified tactical illustrations. For example, a raised circle represents a sphere, a raised square outline, represents a single side of a cube and a series of close together short lines can represent bristles of the toothbrush and assets. The tactical illustration represents something real in the world. However, it can not entirely capture all of the features of the real object. Something is usually sacrificed such as texture and or function of the object , the product setting the stage for tactile understanding systematically transitions or walks a student along the tactile continuum from real object to a realistic model or vacuum form to re really of the real object that is fairly easy to identify and eventually to be, to simplify more abstract raised outline of the real object . Another APH product that facilitates this graduated transition or approach is Giant Texture Beads with Pattern Matching Cards. They allows students to match 3D objects or cubes, rectangular prisms and cylinders with their tactical two dimensional counterparts reflected on matching cards. So to jumpstart , a child's understanding of pallor tactical graphic is always symbolic as something real in their world, encourage the child to create a tactile drawing of their own. APH offers a product called Quick Draw Paper. As a student draws on the specialized compressed sponge paper with a water-based marker. The drawn image raises instantly. So have a child tries their own hand, for example, to create a simple raised drawing on the Quick Draw Paper, or have them trace around a real object to witness how the object converts into a very simplified outline that differs greatly from the real object. The student student in turn learns that their tactile drawing is only a simplified representation of the real object by allowing the child to create their own title of drawings. You, in turn, as the instructor will learn how the child perceives that object and which features they find important. To be a competent, tactile graphic reader, it's also critical that a young child has a strong understanding of special concepts such as behind, between, next to, above, below, near, away from and so on. To practice these basic spatial concepts consider using APH this Tactical Treasures kit that provides a variety of tactical worksheets that present tactical representations of real objects. Within these worksheets, I've incorporated vacuum form, tactile objects that are common to a young child's experience, such as buttons and pretzels, game tokens, scissors, gingerbread men, and more. The tactical worksheets can be used to review numerous concepts related to shape position size and page orientation. To compliment the use of Tactile Treasures with interactive tactical platforms, such as Picture Maker. That allows the child to independently position geometric shapes to demonstrate their understanding of various spatial concepts. For example, have the student place a triangle above or below a square, an oval between two rectangles, a rectangle beside star and so forth. Both of these products, Tactile Treasures and Picture Maker can conserve as an informal assessment of a child's understanding of these very basic, but essential concepts that will assist their ability to navigate tactile graphics successfully. So when you think about a tactile, a typical tactile graphic of a map, or graph, or complex science diagram, it typically involves what I refer to as the main ingredients of a tactile graphic. And that is an assortment of raised line paths, points , symbols, and shapes, and aerial patterns or textures. Therefore be sure the young child has repeated opportunities to trace and track various line types, such as solid lines, dotted lines, dash lines, and low relief lead lines in a very systematic manner. Similarly allow them to experience various types of textures, such as bumpy, rough striped, smooth, soft, and more. And thirdly, introduce the student to a variety of shapes, circles, squares, triangles, and stars that are commonly used as tactical points , symbols within tactile graphics to represent a location on a map, a data point on a graph, or an identifying labels of some sort. Also remember that most graphics are supportive with braille labels and braille literacy and tactile literacy go hand in hand. APH's Flip-Over Concept Books series provides interactive tactile panels to provide practice for line tracking, texture discrimination, part whole understanding of basic shapes and objects. APH's board game, Web Chase is also perfect for discriminating textures, tracking along and navigating interesting line paths and identifying shapes within a recreational context with sighted peers. The third possibility is APH's Texture, Sorting and Circles and Shapes that have magnetic bag pieces for use with APH's All-in-One Boards. And these shapes come in different sizes and textures. It may not be obvious, but it's very important that the child be exposed to a variety of tactical graphic methods to get comfortable and familiar with them in the process. Be sure they have hands-on experience with collage graphics and paper graphics, embossed graphics, thermal board graphics, microcapsule graphics, thermography, and other presentations of formats for tactile displays. Each method is very different and some incorporate more textures and heights than others. Those that allow variants in height and texture generate graphics that are typically easier to discriminate by younger students and are far more interesting to explore. APH now offers a robust embosser called Pix Blaster that is ideal for creating raised dot graphics, with various elevations of dots that permit texture , shading within graphics, if needed. If you have a Pix Blaster, consider using it to produce graphics downloaded from APH's Tactile Graphic Image Library. There are some fun possibilities, including coloring pages, games, and puzzles and tackled greeting cards. There are many other technical skills that are important, including the understanding of perspective, such as top view, front view, side view cross-sectional view, interpreting tactile keys and logins and exploring a tactile page in a systematic manner, such as getting a quick overview or global view of the entire graphic first and then carefully scanning and dissecting the graphic in order to not miss important features and information. APH offers many additional products for students of all ages that help develop specific tactical skills. These products include early tactile storybooks, tactical games and science and math related graphics. So I'd like to reemphasize that a child should be a participant in creating tactile drawings on their own. So consider using products like Tactile Doodle, Draftsman, Color by Texture Marking Mats, to facilitate these opportunities. A child, to be a creator of their own graphics and drawings and not merely a recipient of graphics prepared by others. So in closing, remember the following: begin with active exploration of real objects, build an early strong foundation of basic concepts related to textures, shapes, lines and special understanding. Provide students with varied early experiences with tactile graphics of all types, encourage the use of graphics within both fun and educational context and last but not least allow students to independently create tactile drawings of their own.

Sara Brown:

Can you talk about how being exposed to tactile books help one develop tactile literacy skills?

Donna McClure-Rogers:

Sure. Sara, this is Donna. Um, well to build on what Karen said , um, you know, we now know that there are a lot of different types of tactical graphics. So it's important to look at where the student is individually and their learning and what they need , um, as an individual and what also might be needed at home or in the classroom , uh , whatever environment a book might be created for. And so, APH has created , um, Tactical Book Builder Kit, and this is a wonderful product to assist teachers and just kind of providing the, the skeleton of what you might need for a book. And then you can take the information about the child's individual needs and incorporate that into something that they can use in a book form. So this kit is going to come with complete with small binders so that you can put your pages together. It also has a lot of different colored vinyl pages that things can be glued to. Um, they can be used with hook and loop connection. Uh, there's lots of different ways to utilize those and also build on the background color that's available. A lot of these are primary colored pages and they're very sturdy and able to be used by children of young ages , uh , so they can manipulate their own book and , uh , be able to turn the pages or they can even pull on them. And , and they're not going to come apart from the binding, which is really important. Um, we've also got a lot of other skills that can be brought in by this kit. There are envelope pages where maybe a real object could be placed inside of an envelope so that the child can reach and learn to reach inside and locate what they're looking for. There's fabric pages, if you would, if you need to sew something on , um, there's also magnetic pages and there's even sound pages. If you need to add in that extra sensory element for the child to become more interested in the books that you're creating. Um, braille paper is included and adhesive bailable labels as well, so that you can add text to , uh , each page, whether the child just needs one word or they're at the point where they can begin to read sentences, whatever you might need to do. Um, this kit really , um, makes that possible and it helps the teacher to not have to run out and accumulate all of these different pieces separately. And it saves a lot of time and it's just extremely helpful , uh , for the student and, and parents as well, because we know when we're trying to get students interested in reading and in tactile graphics, it's important to make sure that you meet them where they are. And this product is very helpful in doing that. Um, real objects can be placed on these pages as well with zip ties or magnets , um, anything that the child might need. And then you can also incorporate those images from the Tactile Image Library that you might print out onto braille paper onto some of these pages as well, so that if you need to do some sort of progression where the child , um, sees the real object in the beginning of the book and progresses to a more raised drawing on paper by the end of the book, you're able to do that as well, just to kind of make that go step-by-step . Um, there's also another product that we have, that's very similar to the Tactical Book Builder, and it is called CVI Book Builder. And these two are quite similar. Um, but they are also extremely different because they were created for two different audiences. And the CVI Book Builder is, has a lot of products in it that are actually provide a black background for our students who need to reduce that visual clutter. So you have black small and large black binders. You have , um, black cloth pages and , um, black vinyl pages. And it , it's just a lot easier to use these books in an environment , um, to reduce that clutter and help those children.

Sara Brown:

And is there anything else you would like to add regarding the importance of tactile literacy or tactile graphics?

Karen Poppe:

Uh , Sarah, I just wanted to mention , uh , several years ago I created the Online Technical Skills Matrix and that can be accessed on APH's website. Just search for "technical skills matrix" using the "search" tab. It is now a permanent resource on the Tactical Graphic Image Library, web page as well. So the purpose of this matrix is I took 18 unique tactical skills and a pair of those with available APH products that support the development of each of those skills. So hyperlinks to the product page for each recommended product is provided. And this is a very , um, convenient resource for both teachers and parents to become familiar with the need for tactile skills and to also identify specific APH products that support the development of each of those skills. So in some cases recently, obsoleted APH products are still listed in that resource because those products are probably still out in circulation and available for those in the field to continue to use with their students. So thank you very much for this opportunity today to talk about tactical products and tactical skills.

Donna McClure-Rogers:

I would like to include that , um, with the tactile book builder and CVI Book Builder Kits, there are replacement parts available for each of the books style pages. So if you want to further individualize the child's book and you think a child with CVI might be interested in a sound page or might be interested in the , um , a Ziploc page, or maybe even the , uh, the folder page, you can order that as a replacement part and our "replacements part" catalog, and be able to interchange those, those pages within the binders, because everything is the same size. So hopefully you can, you can achieve the individualized book , um, that each child is going to meet .

Sara Brown:

And if you want to check out some of the products mentioned during this interview, please check the show notes. We'll have them there for you, Karen and Donna. Thank you so much for joining me on Change Makers.

Donna McClure-Rogers:

Thank you, Sara. I had a wonderful time.

Karen Poppe:

Hi Sarah. Thanks so much for inviting me today to be able to talk about tactical skills and tactical products. Well , thank you very much.

Sara Brown:

Now we're talking to teaching fellow at the the University of Edinburgh and the CPD Coordinator for Visual Impairment at the Scottish Sensory Center, Elizabeth McCann. Hello, Elizabeth, and welcome to Change Makers.

Elizabeth McCann:

Hi, Sara. Thanks very much for having me today.

Sara Brown:

First off. Can you talk to me about what you do as the teaching fellow of visual impairment and VI CPD coordinator?

Elizabeth McCann:

So I work at the the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and I teach on the qualification. It's a mandatory qualification for teachers to become qualified teachers of visual impairment. So on that course, I teach all the different parts that are related specifically to VI and the education of children and young people with visual impairment. And then I also have a , another job within the University of Edinburgh. It's got Scottish Sensory Center and I organize professional learning courses for teachers and non-teaching staff, and even third sector who are working with and supporting children and young people, again, all with special impairments.

Sara Brown:

Now this podcast is about tactile graphics and tactile literacy. How do you incorporate tactile graphics into your teaching?

Elizabeth McCann:

Absolutely. So on the course that I teach, which is part of the mandatory qualification, we have a course code Issues and Strategies for Teaching and Learning. And on that course, I teach the , the teachers , uh , how to , um , create and teach at tactile graphics. Um , and that's a very important part of the course because it's all about, "how did our young people access learning?" And then also , uh, in the other role that I have , um, it's taking that initial learning that we cover in our mandatory qualification and extending those skills. And very recently, I also had some courses with Sally Hart, from APH, who was sharing her knowledge about at tactile graphics as well. And these are really, really well received by our teachers here in the UK.

Sara Brown:

What is the process of teaching a student tactile graphics? Can you walk us through that? Is it like when you put their fingers and guiding their hands over shapes and outlines?

Elizabeth McCann:

So there is , uh , a progression of skills in order to learn and become profession in reading and understanding tactile graphics. And so we always talk about moving from three dimensional objects to the two dimensional, and it's very important that children are taken through those stages in order to fully understand what tactile graphics are. So let me give you an example. I think that might be easier. So if we're teaching about shape , for example, and it's a circle we would expect, first of all, children, to know what a circle is to hold a real shape in their hand. And then from there, we , um , take away some of the chances to actually touch and feel the shape . So we might stick it onto a piece of card and then present it to them and they can explore it that way. And then we move on to use making shapes with different materials. So they may have been used to a plastic shape to begin with shapes and different fabrics and textures. And then we moved to line drawings and then outlines of the shape . So we take them through that whole, and it's also as well about learning how to explore tactile graphics as well, and using our hands on the paper and it exploring the shapes and the picture that's there in a way that's systematic. And that is very important.

Sara Brown:

Earlier this year, we did a podcast called "Is Braille Still Relevant?" and all the people we interviewed gave a resounding "yes," it is obviously still relevant. We asked that question because more people are listening to things. They're not learning braille, they're listening and devices speak to them and talk to them. They can talk to devices. So that made us pose that question. What would you say to anyone who does not think tactile literacy is important?

Elizabeth McCann:

Well, Sara, I'm really glad to hear that they decided that braille was still relevant because I absolutely agree with that 100% as well. Again, it's about equality, equality of access, tactile literacy is vitally important. Uh , we can't use just words to describe graphs. The understanding is just really difficult and in the same way for us to say to people, they say, "a picture paints of those words." Well, so does a very good tactile graphic. Uh, and I stress the very good part there as well. So it is exactly the same concept. And so what we're doing is we're helping the children and the young people that we support to build up an understanding , um , about the world in which they live. And if we think, for example, in face tactile literacy is also about collage graphics as well. We think about the enjoyment that a sighted child has from a picture book. For example, then surely the child who is blind or severely sight impaired, should have that same enjoyment by having a tactile graphic collage or tactile graphic on their books as well. And they love it. They do get to exactly that same enjoyment. So absolutely tactile graphics can show so many things. They can be introduced at different levels. As the progression, as I said earlier, is , is vitally important that we match up the age and stage of progression and understanding of that child with the tactile graphic that is presented to them. So that is , is hugely important. They can learn so much more information and they can learn the same things as their peers as well in class using different methods, tactile methods that will give them that same level of understanding and, and their learning.

Sara Brown:

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Elizabeth McCann:

Yes. Um, I think so. I think , um, the tactile graphics should never be a guessing game. So when we present a graphics , especially to very young children, we shouldn't really be asking, "what do you think we have here?" There needs to be a teaching of that , uh , representation of what they have in front of them. So, and that is absolutely vital and critical. And the second point I think I'd like to make is that you don't have to be artistic to create tactile graphics. And people often say , oh, Mrs. So-and-so, she's very artistic. She would make very good, tactile graphics. And actually that's not the case. It's all about the person who's creating that graphic, thinking about what the actual learner is experiencing. And it's not about looking pretty, it's not about looking exact an exact representation of the animal or , or whatever it is that they are portraying in that tactile graphic. It's about how it feels and how it is perceived by the child or young person that is reading the graphic. And that is vitally important. I think another really important part is that you create a collage, tactile graphics with young children and ask them what they would like to add to the picture. This gives the whole process much more meaning. And then once the graphic has been created with them, they can go back and explain and tell you about it. They can explain to their friends , uh, what they have created. And it's a really lovely learning experience, both for the child and for the teacher.

Sara Brown:

Thank you so much, Elizabeth, for joining me on Change Makers.

Elizabeth McCann:

Thank you very much. So lovely to talk to your ,

Sara Brown:

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Change Makers. We'll put any links, websites, and email addresses mentioned in this podcast, in the show notes, and as always be sure to look for ways you can be a change maker this week.