Tactile pictures and picture books

In order for a picture to be accessible to a person with a serious visual impairment, it must contain raised lines and surfaces. These pictures are called tactile or relief pictures.

As the eye perceives more details than what the fingertips do, a tactile picture must be simple and without unnecessary details. Both children’s books and adult books are made with tactile pictures, using what is known as the microcapsule paper technique. Children’s books include individual pictures that illustrate something in the story, such as an animal. Adult books often have pictures that are difficult to describe in words, such as maps, diagrams, technical descriptions, etc.

Tactile picture books for children often use different techniques. They may include collage pictures that combine shapes made of various materials, or pictures printed with the help of silkscreen techniques.

Tactile picture books for children

Children with visual impairment should have the same opportunity that children with normal vision have to learn how to understand and interpret objects and phenomena. That’s why it’s important to give them access to tactile pictures at a very early age.
Children with functional impairments other than impaired vision can also borrow tactile picture books. These children may have a cognitive impairment, such as autism.


A tactile picture book most often is based on a printed book. The text of the book is transferred to Braille and large fonts, and the pictures are made of various materials, and clearly contrasting pictures. In order to enable the reader to perceive the pictures by touching them, raised lines and surfaces are used. People recognize and identify an object primarily by its shape, and this applies both when seeing and when feeling something. Objects can be distinguished because they are made of different materials, but the shape plays an equally important role. The material in the pictures is chosen to create associations to the object depicted.

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