Color-to-Texture, Coloring Books and Cartoons, the Tactile Color Revolution has Begun

Presented at 9:15am in Colorado F on Thursday, November 9, 2023.



  • John Gardner, Prof., ViewPlus

Session Details

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


I will demo how the new ViewPlus Tiger Software Suite v8 can replace colored regions with texture/fill on some typical STEM diagrams. Users can select from several color-to-fill definition files or create personalized versions. Participants may take home a tactile coloring book, a box of braille-labeled crayons, and a large Bart Simpson tactile color cartoon - a packet popular with kids of all ages.


ViewPlus was founded to create hardware and software that could make graphics accessible. It has done that, but even so, few blind people today can read tactile graphics fluently. Sighted kids read picture books as babies, but blind kids are lucky to see any tactile graphics before they are teenagers. Small wonder that few ever learn how to process those images. ViewPlus has begun a "coloring and cartoon campaign" whose goal is giving blind kids fun pictures they will want to read. And consequently will learn to process graphics as naturally as sighted kids do. Early focus group returns show that blind kids (and sighted kids and most adults as well) love to color and love tactile cartoons. A Bart Simpson cartoon is the most-requested example that ViewPlus has ever made. It presently hangs framed on several blind kids' bedroom walls. Initially ViewPlus is making and distributing these items. They are available in hard copy for a charge. But as digital (Word and svg) files they are free. ViewPlus can plant a seed but it cannot possibly create enough content to fill needs of young blind kids, or even more so, needs of older kids as they grow and consume ever more sophisticated graphics. But parents and friends of blind children, Lighthouses for the Blind, schools for the blind, higher Education professionals like this audience, and anybody else who knows how to use a computer can make simple tactile and audio-tactile graphics. It is easy, as will be demonstrated in the presentation. The digital images can be posted to a central repository and distributed and printed for any child if somewhere in that child's community there is a ViewPlus printer. The current status of the campaign will be reported as part of the presentation.


  1. Sighted children naturally learn to process images. Blind children have no tactile images and do not learn.
  2. It should be no surprise that blind college students seldom understand complex tactile graphical information.
  3. ViewPlus hopes to stimulate graphics learning by making fun tactile graphics available to kids of all ages

Disability Areas


Topic Areas

Accessible Educational Materials, Alternate Format, Assistive Technology, Teaching about Accessibility in Curriculum, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

John Gardner

John Gardner received a PhD in physics from the University of Illinois. He has been a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania and Oregon State University. He has also held visiting positions at the Technical University of Munich, University of Warwick, Imperial College, Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research, University of Stuttgart, and the University of Konstanz. Oregon State was his home for 30 years as an active faculty member and where he has been Professor Emeritus since 2003. He is known as an expert on point defects in solids and several fields of experimental solid state physics. He lost his sight unexpectedly in 1988 and became interested in accessibility of complex information, including math and graphics. In 1996 he founded ViewPlus Technologies, which has grown into a multi-million dollar company producing information-access hardware and software. ViewPlus is the leading manufacturer of tactile graphics and braille embossers in the world. He has received numerous awards and has given invited presentations on both physics and information accessibility at universities and conferences on five continents.