3D Printed Tactile Learning Objects: Proof of Concept

Michael A. Kolitsky, Ph.D.

Preferred Citation

Kolitsky, M. A. (2014). 3d printed tactile learning objects: Proof of concept. Journal of Blindness Innovation and Research, 4(1). Retrieved from https://nfb.org/images/nfb/publications/jbir/jbir14/jbir040102.html. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5241/4-51


Image-based learning objects produced today are primarily designed for the virtual world and are not easily accessible to blind or visually impaired students. The opportunity to 3D print images from disciplines such as anatomy, histology, cell biology, astronomy, and geology has opened new vistas for the construction of tactile learning objects made for the real world rather than the digital world. This paper provides a “proof of concept” for the idea of more widespread production of tactile learning objects mirroring the design of virtual learning objects, especially in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) disciplines where there is heavy use of images from microscopes, telescopes, and satellites. Evidence promoting the production of 3D printed braille is also provided. It is further suggested that many virtual learning objects may need to be redesigned using 3D printing so they may be made touchable for a more complete tactile learning experience.


3D Printing, tactile learning objects, blind or visually impaired students, STEM, proof of concept

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5241/4-51

The Journal of Blindness Innovation and Research is copyright (c) 2014 to the National Federation of the Blind.