Tactile street crossings

Street crossings are an important concept for any child to learn, but even more so for children who are blind or have low vision. Orientation and mobility instructors also require tactile and high contrast mapping tools to help blind adults learn specific street crossings that they will need to navigate independently. Below, we have listed some resources that may be helpful.

Our Inclusive Technologies team at Monash University is working to create additional resources. Please contact leona.holloway@monash.edu if you would like to share your ideas about what you think is needed.

Tactile intersections by Lighthouse for the Blind

Lighthouse for the Blind teamed with an orientation and mobility instructor to create a collection of swell paper diagrams depicting common intersections. They are designed to teach about intersection designs, traffic flow and street crossings.

Swell paper diagrams showing intersection types, cross streets, T-intersection, etc.

Cost is US$85 for a pack of 13 diagrams from the Adaptations store.

Tactile Town

Tactile Town is a kit of felt pieces depicting roads, dividing lines, grass, buildings, and more. It is best suited for teaching concepts of streets crossing to young children, who can create their own street scenes and learn through play.


Cost US$470 from the APH shop.


Lego is a popular building tool that can be used to create simple square street scenes including people, vehicles, street signs and traffic lights. Base plates are available with a straight road, T-intersection, cross roads or curved road at a cost of around AUD$18 for a pack of two bases.

Lego base plates with roads, traffic lights, street lights and other street scene items

In Australia, Target also sells Lego-compatible base plates with the same variety of road crossings for $5 each.

Lego-compatible base plates with cross intersection, curved road, straight road or T-intersection

Road Tape

Create your own crossings for children to play and learn using plastic road tape on a contrasting colour and texture, such as a pale coloured fabric mat.

Wide black tape with white centre lane and zebra crossings. Shown with wooden cars with simple wooden cars with wheels.

Sold locally as a roll of 8m of tape and one car for just over AUD$10 from Wombats or Little Online Shop.

Waytoplay rubber road segments

Waytoplay rubber road segments are thick, providing tactile contrast, and black with white line markings, providing realism and strong visual contrast. Segments can be bought in packs and combined to create an array of different crossings.

black road segments with white lane markings. They include curve, cross road, straight and straight with zebra crossing

Cost AUD$65-$200 per set.

Other DIY methods for creating tactile graphics

Refer to our page on quick tips for creating tactile graphics by hand for a range of methods and materials that can be used to create handmade tactile graphics, including methods that blind people can use to draw their own street maps.

Accessible maps of the Brisbane Museum District

While at the 2019 Round Table Conference in Brisbane, a group of attendees (touch readers, family members and accessible format producers) took a short excursion to explore the accessible maps of the museum district in South Bank.

We found several wall-mounted print/braille maps along with a large table-top model, located on the Grey street side of the State Library. It was wonderful to experience these inclusive accessibility measures in public spaces.
3 photographs: walking with dog and cane; clear print and tactile map; large 3D model of buildings and roads

Do you know of any similar maps or models in your area? Please let us know!

Workshop – Accessible Interactive Story Book Pages at MPavilion

MPavilion is an annual architectural commission in Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Gardens, opposite the Arts Centre. As part of their STEM series, we were excited to be invited to run a free public workshop on using eTextiles to create interactive accessible story books pages. Creating Tactile Stories was presented by Leona Holloway, Kirsten Ellis from Monash University and Louise Curtin from Feelix Children’s Library.

People sewing in MPavilion 2018, an open-air wooden architectural space.

In celebration of Braille Literacy Month, we talked about the importance of early, engaging tactile experiences as the first step towards (tactile) literacy for blind children. We then learned how to use eTextiles to sew a simple circuit with lights or buzzers, which we embedded in our handcrafted tactile story book page. We were delighted to see so many beautiful, creative and ingenious designs.

Some simple instructions on how to make your own eTextiles at home are given on the SensiLab website at sensilab.monash.edu/news-events/creating-tactile-stories/. Watch this space for more tips and resources to come.

Workshop participants touching a page depicting a furry blue cat with googly eyes.
This tactile cat purrs (vibrates) when its tail is patted.

Bendigo Art Gallery accessible tour and web pages

In the next phase of our project with Bendigo Art Gallery, we had the pleasure of exploring ideas for accessible art with the Gallery and vision impaired communities.

laser cut representation of "I ate the rainbow up ..." with separate layers of acrylic to represent the background, figures, faces and handsIn a day-long workshop, gallery staff, artists and community members came together to talk about why accessible art is important, who it impacts, and the best ways to make it happen.

At a special tour, vision impaired visitors were treated to a guided tour featuring four artworks in Bendigo Art Gallery’s permanent collection. Alongside vivid audio description of the artworks, visitors were able to touch the sculptures and an old frame, take the role of a character from a painting with representative props, and explore

Accessible trial web pages were also produced to enable more independent exploration of a range of paintings and sculptures. Each page included a visual description of the artwork, information about the artwork, enlarged and high contrast images, and a soundscape related to the subject matter or period.

Watch this space for announcements regarding publications reporting our research findings.