3D printing for accessible graphics – project updates

Please check back regularly for monthly updates.

Progress made

October 2018

October 2018 marked the beginning of the three-year project investigating the use of 3D printing for access to graphics by people who are blind or have low vision.

Standards: A shared document was created on Google Drive with tips and tricks for printing for accessibility. This is a working document that will be continually added to throughout the project. It is not yet ready for release but please contact leona.holloway@monash.edu if you would like access to evaluate or add to the document.

November 2018

Mapping: Work commenced on creating TinkerCAD components for modelling street crossings.

Standards: Began modelling of 3D-printable textures.

3D printed textures - short raised lines, domes and flat dots

December 2018

Administration: The first meeting held with the project’s expert advisory group. The project team is joined by representatives from partner organisations (the Department of Education and Training, Round Table on Information Access for People with Print Disabilities, Guide Dogs Victoria, the Royal Society for the Blind) and peak organisations from the print accessibility sector (Vision Australia, Blind Citizens Australia, Queensland Tactual Mapping Committee). Meetings will be held quarterly in March, June, September and December.

3D printed braille swing cell with removable rods for the braille dotsTactile literacy: Face-to-face brainstorming meetings were held with production and teaching staff at RIDBC and SVRC. Some of the main areas they suggested where 3D printing could assist in tactile literacy:

  • Braille swing cell
  • Braille games
  • 3D shapes – solid, cross-sections and nets
  • Games matching 3D objects with tactile graphics

January 2019

Collaboration: Research Assistant for the project, Leona Holloway, joined the DIAGRAM working group on 3D tactile standard. The group meets fortnightly and has a focus on 3D printing for education for students with vision impairments.

February 2019

3D printed model of a cat with spherical head, triangular ears, and cylindrical legs, body and tail
How many cylinders are there in the cat?

Tactile Literacy: We conducted our first school visit, discussing the materials required for touch readers in their first years of primary schooling. Suggested materials included:

  • tens frame for placing counters
  • MAB blocks with outward-facing lines
  • braille number line
  • fun “find the shape” activities

March 2019

Administration: The project’s expert advisory group met for the second time. Bruce Maguire joined the group on behalf of Vision Australia.

Map of Carlton Gardens with felt grass, a 3D printed building and fountain, and 3D printed icons for food, drinks, etc. Mapping: “Immerse Your Senses” was the theme of the 2019 Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show,  held at the Carlton Gardens from Wednesday 27 to Sunday 31 March. We created an accessible map of the Show with 3D-printed icons, along with handheld models of the Rob Waddell Show Garden and Guide Dog Victoria’s sensory garden. Over the course of the event, we collected feedback on the maps from 10 visitors who are blind or have low vision.

April 2019

Mapping: Analysing the results from the mapping study run in March and writing a paper for an international conference submission. Preparing materials for the mapping workshop in May.

Planned events

Round Table Conference Presentation and Workshop – May 2019

Collaboration: The Round Table on Information Access for People with Print Disabilities Inc. is a major project partner. They will be hosting their annual Round Table Conference Conference May 2019 in Brisbane, Australia with the theme “The Changing Landscape for Accessible Information”. On Sunday 5 May, project Chief Investigator Matt Butler of Monash University will deliver a feature presentation about the project entitled “Partnering for Progress”.

Mapping: On Monday 7 May, Leona Holloway (Monash University),  Tony Starkey (Royal Society for the Blind) and John-Ross Barresi (Guide Dogs Victoria) will present a hands-on workshop demonstrating some of the 3D-printed maps created for the project.

VISCON – June 2019

On Thursday June 20, Matt Butler will be speaking about the ARC Linkage Project and 3D printing for tactile literacy at VISCON in Sydney. VISCON is a two day biennial conference for educators and related specialists in education for children who are blind or have low vision. There will also be a trade display featuring the latest in assistive technology. VISCON is hosted by RIDBC at their Renwick Centre in North Rocks.

National Science Week – August 2019

Standards: We have been invited to participate at Melbourne’s National Science Week event at Parliament House. We plan to host a tactile game allowing us to collect data about tactile discrimination of 3D printed textures and symbols.