Life Science Tactile Graphics

A collection of vacuum-formed, full-color raised-line tactile graphics intended to supplement the figures and diagrams in life science textbooks. 

Life Science Tactile Graphics depict organisms, processes, concepts, and patterns which are typically covered in middle-and high school life science courses.

About the Tactile Graphics
The drawings in Life Science Tactile Graphics employ several types of lines and textures, as well as different heights. 
Braille labels are provided on the drawings, but you may easily add to or change the labels by creating self-adhesive braille labels of your own.

Teaching Suggestions
Instructional hints and suggestions are given for each tactile drawing. The goal of the suggestions is to help make science learning real for students who are not using standard printed images. 

These graphics help demonstrate concepts in science just as print images do, but to be effective, they depend on a foundation of tactile reading skills, students' hands-on experiences, and verbal description you provide.


  • 56 full-color tactile diagrams on durable vacuum-formed plastic
  • Teacher’s Guide in large print
  • Sturdy three-ring storage binder
Grade Level:
5 to 12
>>Additional product information below


Life Science Tactile Graphics Catalog Number: 1-08840-00
Format: Product

Price: $251.00

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Additional Information:

The Graphics 
Life Science Tactile Graphics includes 56 diagrams:

  • Light or Compound Microscope
  • Cell Sizes and Shapes
  • Comparing Animal and Plant Cells
  • Mitochondrion
  • Chloroplast 
  • Prokaryotic Cell 
  • Bacterial Types 
  • DNA 
  • DNA Double Helix 
  • DNA Replication 
  • Translation 
  • Chromosome Duplication 
  • Cell Cycle Chart 
  • Mitosis 
  • Meiosis I 
  • Meiosis II 
  • Non-Disjunction in Meiosis I 
  • Non-Disjunction in Meiosis II 
  • Fertilization 
  • Viral Replication 
  • Membrane Transport 1 
  • Membrane Transport 2 
  • Pedigree 
  • Forelimb Bones 
  • Comparative Embryology 
  • Skin Cross-Section 
  • Neuron 
  • The Eye 
  • The Ear 
  • Using Lenses for Vision Correction 
  • Sense of Taste 
  • Leaf Cross-Section 
  • Tree Canopy & Roots 
  • Vascular Structure of Wood 
  • Plant Intake and Output 
  • Moss Life Cycle 
  • Fern Life Cycle 
  • Pine Life Cycle 
  • Parts of a Flower 
  • Monocot and Dicot Seeds 
  • Seed Germination 
  • Sponge 
  • Sponge Life Cycle 
  • Cnidarian Stinging Cell 
  • Cnidarian Life Cycle 
  • Flatworm and Roundworm 
  • Snail Body Plan 
  • Insect Metamorphosis 
  • Insect Feeding Adaptations 
  • Fish Internal Organs 
  • Fish Skeleton 
  • Amniotic Egg 
  • Bird Flight Adaptations 
  • Water Cycle 
  • Carbon Cycle 
  • Food Web 

Teaching Tips for Life Science Tactile Graphics

Life Science Tactile Graphics offer students a different presentation from their brailled textbook graphics. The emphasis in this adaptation is on tactual readability rather than adherence to a particular printed image, although scientific accuracy is always maintained. Because these graphics are not identical to any image found in a particular science text, they may not contain all of the same features as a given textbook graphic. Thus, these vacuum-formed graphics and the student's braille textbook together make a good combination.

Lines and Textures
The drawings in Life Science Tactile Graphics include many types of lines and textures, as well as surfaces of different heights. In general, higher or more tactually prominent (loudest) textures signify the most important features of the diagram.

While it might seem preferable to give certain lines and textures the same meaning throughout the set, the limited selection of readable textures and the complexity of the graphics combine to make this goal impractical. As a result, lines and textures should be interpreted within the context of each diagram. For example, similar textures may be used to indicate the soil in a plant diagram, a component of the skin in another diagram, and the surface of a sponge in another.

Teaching Suggestions
All of the drawings in Life Science Tactile Graphics set depict concepts, systems, or terms that are common to any basic course in life science.

Instructional hints are given for some of the tactile drawings in the set. They focus on how you might present the concepts to students who are blind and what these students might find most challenging about the drawing or the concept. The goal of the suggestions is to help you as you try to make science learning real for students who are not using the standard printed images.

It is rare to find a tactile picture that stands on its own for the blind student to understand without explanation from the teacher. Even the most well-crafted tactile graphic cannot overcome the fact that perceiving through touch is different from perceiving with sight, and things that are easily apparent with sight are usually less apparent through touch. These graphics may help demonstrate concepts in science just as print pictures do, but they always depend on the verbal description or physical demonstration that you provide to be effective. In other words, the graphics don’t teach science concepts—you do!

Consider the range of pictures found in science books. They present front, side, overhead, and interior views, pictures of things real and imagined, and a scale from the microscopic to the cosmic. With sight, you can look at a picture and instantly recognize the perspective—the essence of how the information is presented—and, within this context, quickly focus on details of what is being conveyed. Using touch, this immediate grasp of the whole of the picture is not available. The whole must be pieced together with time and exploration.

As a teacher, you can help students read a tactile graphic by explaining how the graphic is presented and what it shows; for example: This shows the plant at different times at different stages of the reproductive cycle, or This is how the cell looks magnified thousands of times under a microscope. These different kinds of views require explanation and demonstration, because, as stated before, it takes time and practice to translate the many ways things can appear to the sense of sight into a worthwhile tactual experience.

Print graphics, and those in this set, show things from many different perspectives. For instance, you can look down on an insect from above, as if it rested on the table; you can look at a plant from ground level, seeing its leaves and its roots at the same time; you can see the vast ocean floor as it stretches from one continental shelf to another; you can see an organism developing from one stage to the next; and so on—all in pictures. With exposure and practice, we gain the ability to interpret and connect these images to a reality we are familiar with. Students who lack experience and practice will need some creative assistance from you to make these images real.

The issue of magnification also deserves special mention. In print textbooks, pictures often are not identified as magnifications because it's assumed that students can recognize them as such. (These pictures are often shown with a round frame to suggest a view through a microscope.) This set of graphics assumes the same ability for blind readers, but you should be alert for opportunities to reinforce their understanding of the relative scale of the items pictured.

Many of the diagrams in this set contain arrows, which serve different purposes depending on the context. In general, thin, dashed-line arrows indicate the transition from one stage in a cycle to another. These diagrams show the first stage of the cycle at the top left or top center of the page, and subsequent stages (indicated by the arrows) moving clockwise or downward on the page. In contrast, a thicker arrow is generally used to show the actual motion of one substance into or away from another. Students may need specific training in reading and following arrows, depending on their previous experience with tactile diagrams.

The Table of Contents lists the tactile graphics in subject groups which may suggest ways they can be taught. Keep in mind that when you use these tactile graphics, you are not only teaching students life science, you are helping them to use and interpret tactile pictures in general. As you build up students’ competence and comfort in reading graphics, you open up possibilities for them and prepare them for further academic success. Along the way you will introduce many concepts and, with luck, stimulate students to be active thinkers (that is, scientists).