Tactile Graphic Symbols

This 3D printing project is a component of a grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. The grant, Project Core (#H327S140017) is focused on developing an implementation plan to help schools meet the communication needs of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.
The project emphasizes the use of graphic symbols that represent the most common words in spoken English; however, within the group of school-aged students with significant cognitive disabilities, there are a substantial number of students who have concomitant visual impairments. These students cannot see well enough to use graphic symbols. They require tactile information instead of visual information.
The 3D printer allows us to create tactile symbols for these students. While tactile symbols have been available for some time, 3D printers have advantages over prior approaches to creating tactile symbols. Perhaps most important among these advantages is the fact that symbols can easily be replicated when they are lost or more are needed for use across environments.
-Karen A. Erickson, Center for Literacy & Disability Studies, Department of Allied Health Sciences