As a blind person won't be able to discern two points as separate entities if they're closer together than 2.5mm, this 2.5mm is about the minimum distance between different items in relief drawings.


Also important to keep in mind is the concept of the fingertip 'window', about the size of a Braille cell. Cut a hole about this size in a piece of paper, move that over a drawing to get an idea of a blind reader's perception.
Also, if for instance you have to show that a line is interrupted, the break shouldn't exceed this window.


Keep your drawings clean, free of stains: the blind reader won't recognize smudges for what they are, but will think they're part of the picture.


Strive for excellence in draughting: either make a good drawing or none at all: no halfway house. Understanding graphics will never be easy to the blind, and an unintelligible drawing will put our readers off and is going to amplify the notions about the usefulness of our work. If you are not sure whether a particular drawing makes sense, consult a blind reader, and when still in doubt abort or try a radically different rendering.


Ideally one should ask oneself at each figure what its meaning is and how best to represent that to our readers. Of course in many uncomplicated drawings that won't be necessary, but one should be wary of unexpected unclarities and have possible elucidation in mind all the time. One should never unthinkingly copy inkprint, but look for the best way to render the subject to our readers: put things in or leave them out, change, separate, comment, go for a partial or complete description. Consequently the drawings I find hardest to re-create are in the fields that I do not understand the method of, like psychology or economics (I was raised in physical sciences): as I do not understand clearly what their schemes mean I do not know what's important and what isn't, so I don't know which things are to be displayed prominently and which elements might be left out, and I cannot really describe these drawings accurately.
So otherwise one has to be careful about editing drawings from subjects one is not familiar with.


Only a few drawings need no magnifying. Sometimes, when recognition of a specific form is asked for, a small figure will do better; but in general draw your graphics as big as possible. If text and key might take up space needed for your graphics, don't hesitate to transfer them to a separate page.


Not only should your drawing be large, but also have its elements contrast as much as possible, thin lines and fat lines, no hatchings that look about the same. I think drawings that have a bold, solid look are best.


Some drawings contain small real-life parts, unrecognizable to a blind reader: simplify these figures and explain them in key or with an accompanying word.
    Formalize, Reduce to Essentials
    Example #1 (ca 90K)
    Example #2 (ca. 60K)
    Example #3 (ca. 50K)
    Example #4 (ca 95K)
    Example #5 (ca 170K)


Graphics being hard for the blind anyway we had best ease the burden by striving for uniformity. If our readers are able to recognize quickly the kind of drawing and its usual items, they only have to touch these lightly, saving time to focus on the particular elements.


The sighted take in pictures at a glance, but to the blind reader it is always a matter of minutes, a series of maps might take some ten to fifteen minutes; so the draughtsperson should ask himself if this amount of time taken is justified in view of the kind of information provided in these graphics. Imagine a blind student poring over some maps for twenty minutes to answer a petty question in an examination.

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© 1989, 2002 Marco Schuffelen All rights reserved

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Last modified: Thu Oct 1 10:27:02 PDT 1998