3D Graphic Usability for Objects Designed for Users with Visual Impairments


Scheduled at 8:00am in WB I on Thursday, November 16 (2017).



  • Elizabeth Pyatt, Accessibility IT Consultant, Penn State
  • Aaron Knochel, Asst Prof of Visual Arts, Penn State

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format: Lecture
  • Expertise Level: Beginner
  • Type of session: General Conference


This session presents use cases and design considerations to provide access to image content to users with visual impairments using 3D printing. The pros and cons of 3D printing versus tactile printing or text description for accommodations will be covered.


The advent of lower-cost 3D printers has opened a new option for making content from images accessible to individuals with visual impairments. However, early projects are showing that a 3D printed object that works for a sighted user may not convey the needed information to a user with limited vision. Although referencing tactile graphic standards (e.g. BANA Guidelines for Tactile Graphics) is an important starting point for understanding user needs, the addition of a third dimension and a new medium, usually a type of plastic, requires that additional parameters be explored. This presentation will report some preliminary results for 3D prints for users with visual impairments drawing on content from both STEM and the arts. An additional challenge to discuss is working within a new technology in which best practices are still being learned for all projects.


  1. 3d printing
  2. tactile printing
  3. STEM and visual arts

Disability Areas

Cognitive/Learning, Vision

Topic Areas

Accessible Course Design, Alternate Format, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

Elizabeth Pyatt

Elizabeth Pyatt is currently co-chair of the Accessibility and Information Technology committee and maintains the Penn State accessibility website at https://accessibility.psu.edu.

Aaron Knochel

Dr. Aaron D. Knochel completed his doctorate in Art Education at the Ohio State University in 2011 focused on critical media literacy, software studies and art education. He has worked in a variety of visual arts learning spaces including schools, museums, and community arts programs both domestically and internationally. Dr. Knochel has presented his research at a range of national and international conferences including the National Art Education Association National Convention, SIGGRAPH, and at the International Society for Education through Art World Congress in Budapest, Hungary and Melbourne, Australia. Dr. Knochel is currently an Embedded Researcher in the Art & Design Research Incubator in the College of Arts & Architecture. Dr. Knochel's research focuses on the intersections between art education, social theory, and software studies. From community-based media production to engaging digital visual culture in the K-12 art classroom, his interests follow the complexities of civic engagement both through the arts and through network connectivity. Publications include articles in Studies in Art Education, Visual Arts Research, The International Journal of Education through Art, and Kairos. Generally, he tries to live up to his @artisteducator twitter bio: artist-teacher-visual culture researcher-digital media flaneur-novice hacker and pixel stacker.