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Embossing tactile graphics for the blind does not have to be pricy. You do not need a particular printer or type of paper. All you need is patience and tools you can find around the house like adhesive and some ingredients. We’ll teach you how to emboss tactile graphics for under $1 right away!

 

What do you need

  • A tactile graphic
  • A syringe with a needle
  • Some adhesive
  • Ingredients (e.g.: salt, flour, spices)
  • Heat

 

Steps to follow

  1. Buy the necessary tools
  2. Download and print the tactile graphic
  3. Fill the syringe with adhesive
  4. Start drawing the first adhesive lines
  5. Add the first ingredient
  6. Dry the tactile graphic
  7. Repeat steps 4, 5 and 6

1. Buy the necessary tools

Source: AliExpress

Source: AliExpress

Before getting started, you must make sure that you have everything you need. So, what do you need? A syringe with a needle, some wood adhesive, and food. If you cannot find any of them around the house, you can either buy online or go to the closest drugstore and hardware store. To get the ingredients, you just have to open your kitchen cabinet.

If you want to emboss more than one tactile drawing, we recommend you to buy a larger quantity of adhesive. You will get to save some money this way.

TIP: You can use any needle, but we recommend you to use one with a blunt tip, like those used for food and oils. Or, you can bend and cut a medicinal needle to dull the tip.

 

If you just want to emboss one or two drawings, you can find adhesive at the closest bookstore. But if you’re going to emboss a lot of tactile graphics, you should buy adhesive per kilogram – it is way cheaper than smaller bottles. You can order adhesive buckets up of about 4 kilos online or buy locally, at the closest hardware store. 

2. Download and print the tactile graphic

On the educational platform tactileimages.org, we created a LIBRARY of 800 self-describing tactile graphics. There’s a wide variety of subjects you can choose from, such as means of transport, maps, animals or portraits.

Download your favorite tactile graphics and print them at a laser or ink printer! It’s easy to emboss tactile graphics for under $1!

3. Fill the syringe with adhesive

You have everything you need. It’s time to get started! Fill the syringe with adhesive!

4. Start drawing the first adhesive lines

If you want to emboss with food or spices manually, you have to know from the very beginning that you do not add them all at once, you have to do everything in stages. Here’s how!

Let’s say that you chose to emboss with coarse salt and flour. The ingredients must be of different roughness for the blind person to feel the difference between the portions of the tactile graphic while exploring.

Now let’s get to the process! Tactile graphics are made of clear lines, so using adhesive is not that difficult; it does not require a specific skill. You just have to be patient; in time, you will know how to master embossing with adhesive – you have to be consistent and careful at connecting lines.

Take notice that because you are doing this in stages, you are now only drawing the adhesive lines for the portions which will be covered with the first ingredient of your choice, let’s say coarse salt.

TIPS:
1. Start drawing adhesive lines from the top-left corner of the tactile graphic and end at the bottom-right corner. Imagine that you are writing; it’s the same process. This will prevent you from getting your sleeve dirty with adhesive.
2. If you do get your sleeve dirty with adhesive, you can clean it with warm water.
3. Please handle the needle carefully. Make sure you put it away when done, so nobody gets hurt.
4. You can reuse the syringe and needle if you rinse them with warm water immediately after you finished embossing.

5. Add the first ingredient

It’s time you added the first ingredient. Remember, you are doing this in stages, so you are just adding the coarse salt, for example. You just add it over the adhesive lines. It does not have to be much, but make sure it covers the entire area.

6. Dry the tactile graphic

Now that you added adhesive and your first ingredient, you have to dry the tactile graphic to make everything stick. You have to options here: you can either let the tactile graphic dry in the sun for 60 minutes or put it in the oven for 5 minutes (at no more than 40° Celsius).

7. Repeat steps 4, 5 and 6

Don’t go anywhere! You still have to add the second ingredient to your tactile graphic. You will do that exactly the way you added the first one, by repeating steps 4, 5, and 6. And this is how you emboss tactile graphics for under $1

Did you add all the ingredients you wanted? Is the tactile graphic dry? Great! Now you can give the tactile graphic to a blind person you know. In time, manually embossing could turn into a hobby and a way of helping the blind. 🙂
Do you have any questions about embossing tactile graphics with food? Write in the comment section below!

Image source: Mae Mu | Unsplash

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