Skip to main content Skip to main menu

A Tactile Eclipse: How the Monarch is Revolutionizing Tactile Graphics

A hand touches a tactile graphic depicting the stages of a solar eclipse on the Monarch's multiline tactile display.

On April 8th, 2024, North America experienced a total solar eclipse. According to NASA, “99% of people who reside in the United States…[were] able to see the partial or total eclipse from where they live.” To help students who are blind or low vision get a hands-on understanding of what goes on during an eclipse, our tactile graphics team created tactile graphics for the Monarch using photos of the eclipse from NASA.

What’s in a Tactile Graphic?

APH Tactile Graphics Editor Sally Hart created the tactile graphics of the solar eclipse. Tactile graphics, Sally explains, are a vital part of learning for students who are blind or low vision: “The transcription of a text is not considered complete until the required graphics have been included. Tactile graphics are part of literacy and literacy is a powerful tool everyone should have access to.”

It is important to note that tactile graphics are not just raised recreations of print graphics. “A graphic that is easily interpreted visually will not necessarily be tactually meaningful,” says Sally. Tactile graphics must be created with the sense of touch in mind; their purpose is to communicate an idea or information through touch alone.

Because tactile graphics focus on conveying ideas and information through touch, “they do not include the symbols or visual components that sighted readers might expect, such as color, embellishment, and artistic additions,” explains Sally. Instead, simplification, consolidation, enlargement, and separation are used to provide clarity. For example, when Sally created the eclipse tactile graphic, she considered the impact shading and overall size would have on the graphic’s intelligibility.

Access the eclipse tactile graphics and an enormous collection of tactile graphics for free through our Tactile Graphics Image Library (TGIL).


Tactile Graphics and Monarch

Why did we create this tactile graphic specifically for the Monarch? The Monarch allows students to have hundreds of tactile graphics on one device at their fingertips! The Monarch’s 10-line by 32-cell refreshable braille display can render lines of braille and tactile graphics simultaneously.

The Tactile Viewer app, which is preloaded on every Monarch, is a tactile graphic viewing app that connects to the TGIL through WiFi. From science, to math, to geography, and beyond, educators and students can access the tactile graphics they need in an instant on the Monarch.

One educator who participated in our Monarch teacher training shared how this feature helped her quickly access the tactile graphics a student needed: “His class was doing a unit on dinosaurs. I didn’t know that they had moved to a new unit, so I wasn’t prepared with dinosaur supports. I was able to quickly pull up several dinosaur tactile graphics from the TGIL already installed on our Monarch. As a dinosaur song played, we were able to keep up with the video with our graphics for each of the dinosaurs. The pre-loaded TGIL saved the day! It was just so cool to have that at our fingertips in an instant!”


While the Monarch is an exciting way to view tactile graphics, this revolutionary device is capable of so much more! Learn how the Monarch is leveling the playing field in the classroom, how the Monarch is impacting braille literacy, and how the Monarch can help students do and understand math.

Share this article.