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Case Studies from blind and partially sighted students using
tactile graphics in Higher Education
The following case studies were collected from graduates of Mathematics
and Accounting, Psychology and Computer
Science. These are primarily designed to provide information
for lecturers and support staff, but also make interesting reading
for anyone, as evidence for the importance of tactile images in
Mathematics and Accounting Graduate
• I am a graduate and have been blind from the age of
2 years. I use Braille and started to use tactile graphics when
I was about 9 years old.
• I studied mathematics and accounting, therefore many
of the tactile graphics I used could be reused by other doing
the same or similar subjects.
• If there were certain tactile graphics I needed usually
I discussed this with my university disability officers who
then spoke to my lecturers. However I think my lecturers would
benefit from training in the uses and development of tactile
graphics, as they often have little understanding in how to
incorporate them into their lectures.
• Generally I think although they can be difficult to
produce, when tactile graphics are simple they are very useful.
I do not have much difficulty with converting the image obtained
in a tactile graphic into a realistic concept, although this
often depends on the information that is being presented in
the graphic. Sometimes I find perspectives difficult to understand,
so I generally prefer two-dimensional to three-dimensional tactile
graphics. However if a three-dimensional image is necessary,
I personally would prefer them to be split up in to several
• Having tactile graphics in my lectures increased my
attention to the concept being taught, and I have never felt
swamped by too many diagrams- as far as I’m concerned
the more, the better.
• They have aided my understanding about certain concepts
that I do not think would have been as complete without tactile
• I have studied at the higher education level several
times, as I have a degree in psychology, an MSc and I am currently
studying for a postgraduate degree.
• I became significantly blind at the age of six and learnt
to read Braille at the age of seven. At school I started to
use tactile graphics when I was about nine years old. This was
a special school for people with disabilities; however I received
no training in tactile graphic reading skills and due to this
I often still have difficulty understanding tactile graphics.
• Whilst at university I found the provision of tactile
graphic was often quite sporadic, as some modules were provided
for more than others, which mainly depended on how quickly lecturers
responded to requests for their graphical materials. Because
of this my tactile graphics were rarely available in time for
lectures on the topic of the diagram.
• When providing tactile graphics for blind and partially sighted students it is very important to be selective in order
to get the balance right between providing too many and too
few diagrams. Rather than lecturers with little experience of
tactile graphics being responsible for this, I believe that
the student and other people that are knowledgeable about tactile
graphics should make these decisions. For most of the modules
that I studied at the undergraduate level I think about half
a dozen diagrams was adequate, although I did required more
diagrams for more complex modules. I have found that with tactile
graphics, my understanding of the subject area is improved especially
if a text description is also provided. I find I can usually
relate the tactile graphics to reality quite easily but three-dimensional
concepts can be very difficult
• Overall tactile graphics are very useful in higher education,
especially when a text description was also provided. However
I felt that I was provided with too few diagrams during my psychology
course, although the quality of those I had was generally good.
Computer Sciences Graduate
• I am a recent graduate of computer sciences. I became
significantly visually impaired at the age of ten and learnt
Braille at the age of eleven. I started using tactile graphics
when I was fifteen years old and attended a special school for
people with disabilities, where I used tactile graphics for
geography, physics and chemistry. I received a small amount
of training in using tactile graphics at this school.
• My opinion toward the uses of tactile graphics in Higher
Education is that they are important and helpful if they demonstrate
something key to the course. I have found that diagrams are
not always essential just because a fully sighted person understands
the concept through them.
• During my time at university tactile graphic provision
was reasonable, although I would have preferred to have more
for certain modules. Fortunately though, the majority of the
tactile graphics I used were available the lectures on the topic
they were demonstrating, which enabled me to look through the
tactile graphics before and after my lectures.
If you are a blind or partially sighted student or graduate we would like
to hear about your experiences of tactile graphics in higher education.
Please contact us with your