Tactiles are raised line drawings that are especially critical in STEM classes (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Thanks to the Forest County Potawatomi Foundation, we were able to purchase a tactile embosser that produces tactiles more than three times faster than our previous embosser. In 2016, ABLE produced 1,781 tactile pages, a 33% increase over the previous year! ABLE is ensuring that students have equal access to meaningful learning materials that allow them to understand concepts such as mathematical graphs, molecular structures, or other technical depictions that are difficult, if not impossible, to explain in words alone. Creating tactiles is time-consuming and challenging, and yet we produced six times as many in 2015 as in the previous year, and another third more in 2016.
To keep up with this growing demand for our services, ABLE needs to recruit, train, and mentor a new group of volunteers—both tactile artists and braillists.
John (Kacz) Kaczmarowski has been a tactile artist with ABLE for over 15 years. He uses all kinds of tools and supplies to make tactiles by hand. This is still a very meaningful way of creating tactiles.
We now have also begun making tactiles digitally. With the help of creative volunteers and staff and great software programs, we are able to produce tactiles more quickly. It must be said, however, that quickly is a relative term. It can take 8 to 10 hours to produce a complex tactile map. Now with the continued increase in demand we are working with new volunteers who are creating tactiles from home. Antonio Fernandez Gonzalez, who joined our volunteer team in 2016, is particularly good at making maps.