tactile graphics guidelines

This is a working document only, to assist in tracking working party observations and recommendations on available guidelines for the production of tactile graphics.


Round Table Guidelines on Conveying Visual Information (2005)


  • Covers both tactile graphics and verbalisations.
  • Available for free download in print or braille.


  • Needs to be included as an official publication of Round Table.
  • What areas need to be updated for tactile graphics?

TABMAP A guide for the production of tactual and bold print maps (2006) (2006)


  • By the NSW Tactual and Bold Print Mapping Committee (TABMAP)
  • Focus on swell paper diagrams, with some mention of silk screening. Does not cover thermoform or embossed graphics.

Australian National Specifications for Tactual Mapping (1980s)


  • By the National Mapping Council of Australia.
  • Documents are available for free download as PDF.

BANA Guidelines and Standards for Tactile Graphics (2010)


  • By the Braille Authority of North America
  • Currently being updated for UEB.


  • The most well-recognised tactile graphics guidelines in the English-speaking world.
  • Formatting of examples and use of Nemeth math differs from standards in Australia and New Zealand.

Symbols for tactual and low vision town maps (1986)


  • Published by the Commonwealth of Australia

Best practice guidelines for the design, production and presentation of vacuum formed tactile maps


  • by Ann Gardiner and Chris Perkins
  • specific to thermoform

Tactile Graphics Website


  • by Lucia Hasty
  • Includes guidelines on designing and producing tactile graphics using a range of technologies/materials.

Computer Generated Tactile Graphics


  • Tutorials by Texas School for the Blind and Vision Impaired


An empirical approach on the design of tactile maps and diagrams: The cognitive tactualization approach

by Sandra Jehoel, Don McCallum, Jonathan Rowell and Simon Ungar

The British Journal of Visual Impairment • Volume 24 • Number 2 • 2006

Results: The results suggest that rough paper and microcapsule paper are most suitable. However, when a more durable substrate is required, rough plastic could be used. The second study explored the minimum separation distance between the two elements of a double line. According to the results of this study, two lines separated by at least 1.3 mm are perceived as a double line. In the third study, we aimed to find the optimal elevation for tactile graphics, at which resources are minimized and performance is maximized, which appears to be around 200 microns.

Amy Lobben & Megan Lawrence (2012) The Use of Environmental Features on Tactile Maps by Navigators Who Are Blind, The Professional Geographer, 64:1, 95-108, DOI: 10.1080/00330124.2011.595619

Background research:

  • Sweden and Norway agreed on different textures to symbolize the sea (embroidered canvas) and land elevation (cardboard, cotton, fine- and course-grained sandpaper; Edman 1992)


Developed a new symbol set based on surveys and testing to determine what symbols were required and most easily understood/distinguished.

Symbols set with point features, area features, passageway features, line features and other

symbols set by Lobben & Lawrence

“Cartography: progress in tactile mapping” by Chris Perkins, Progress in Human Geography, 2002, 26:521

Work on tactile standards falls into two rather different strands, but neither has yet led to international agreement. On the one hand there are those who wish to encourage the use of standardized tactile symbols. A second strand has emphasized presentation of mapping and seeks to codify good practice in the wider issue of map design, rather than focusing upon individual symbols (Law, 1988).

CNIB Report of Tactile Graphics Sub-Committee Part 3 (2003)

Conducted a series of comparisons of tactile symbols and media.

Available for free download in PDF.