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11.01 Introduction and preparation steps


TactileView tactile graphics suite for VIP users.

In the sections in this category we elaborate on using the combination of all components of the TactileView tactile graphics suite by a visually impaired person (VIP). The assumption is that the user is using a screen reader with speech and/or braille output.

The addition of the TactileView software with a digital pen and either a TactiPad drawing board or a TactileView ClickPad brings new possibilities with respect to tactile diagrams: creating digital designs by a VIP and exploring audio tactile diagrams with more than just tactile information.

Skill level

Please be informed that using the TactileView digital pen requires a high level of experience. We strongly suggest to follow the steps below in order to develop the necessary skills before starting to use the product combinations with the digital pen. By following the steps, you will not be discouraged by the learning curve that is involved.

You can read more about the aspects of using the digital pen in the ‘Considerations’ section.

Preparation steps

As the skill level of using the digital pen to operate TactileView and draw on the TactiPad is relatively high, it is very useful to build up a good comprehension of the different aspects separately before using them together. The following steps will give an overview of the best approach to master using the digital pen as a VIP user. By breaking it down into individual steps, we encourage you to explore the increasing possibilities that the combinations of the products in the Tactile graphics suite

  1. Basic understanding – TactileView tactile graphics
  2. 1.1 It is a big advantage when you already have a good understanding for tactile diagrams in general. Therefore we suggest to first to download and print pre-made designs from the TactileView catalog, compose a map with RouteTactile or print graphs based on any equation. This allows you to ‘get a feeling’ for exploring a tactile diagram with your fingertips.

    1.2 Make sure you can operate the software with a screen reader. Get familiar with navigating through the menus and dialogs in the software using a screen reader and practise operating the software with by downloading and printing designs from catalog.

  3. Basic understanding – TactiPad
  4. 2.1 Practise creating a complete tactile drawing by hand on the TactiPad with a regular pen. You could start with a basic sketch to get a feeling for drawing by hand. Make sure to get familiar with using the pen and drawing tools to create a tactile image.

    You can use the ‘TactiPad user manual’ as a guide.

  5. Preparing the hardware – Digital pen and TactiPad
  6. 3.1 Place the batteries in the digital pen.

    3.2 Place the pen’s receiver in its holder and with its magnets position it on the side of the TactiPad.

    3.3 Connect the USB cable to the receiver and your computer.

    See the ‘Digital pen user manual’ for all details on steps 3.1 to 3.3.

  7. Preparing the software
  8. 4.1 Cover the different parts of the dialog ‘TactileView digital pen’ in menu Settings.

    4.2 In the ‘TactileView digital pen’ settings dialog, test the connection of the digital pen.

    4.3 How and where to place the receiver relative to the TactiPad or ClickPad and orientation (landscape, portrait).

    4.4 Calibrate the pen within the space for the TactiPad or ClickPad

    Read ” for a complete guide through steps 4.1 to 4.4.

  9. Understanding the various actions and responses of the pen
  10. 5.1 Make sure you know where to point and how to click to navigate through the software using the digital pen. Learn how to access context menus and select the menu options.

    5.2 Make yourself familiar with the sounds and messages that signify over 20 pen functions. Be aware of the state of the digital pen at all times (sounds and messages; the pen can have over 20 different functions; this is a sub set of the functions that are available in the menus)

    5.3 Understand how the surface (dimensions) of the TactiPad relates to the size of the drawing area on the screen and vice versa.

    5.4 Know when to use the computer keyboard or the menus that are accessible with the pen. There is no need to use the computer keyboard when operating the software with the pen, except for entering texts.

  11. Start creating digital tactile drawings
  12. 6.1 Start by creating basic drawings with a limited number of objects using ‘Menu driven design’. Creating or modifying an image by a VIP can only be done with a good comprehension of the tools and their effects on an image. Using the TactileView digital pen requires that you understand the tools from the ‘Drawing tools’ menu and are able to investigate the screen from the ‘List of objects’ in the View menu. Explore what the different objects will look like when they are printed.

    In general, you do not really use the tools such as ruler, protractor and triangle to create an exact drawing, but your drawing is based on the status information (object type, position etc.) in speech. When drawing objects with the TactileView digital pen, you are not physically drawing the lines of the objects on the TactiPad, but you are working with tactile reference points to mark the various objects that you want to add to the digital design. The various objects are added to the design and positioned aligned to these reference markers.

11.02 TactileView graphics suite products

Functions of the digital pen in the design mode and in the explore mode

In this section, the basic operation of the different products is described. In separate sections, the functionality will be explained when the pen and receiver are connected to create a drawing (design mode) or exploring a audio-tactile diagram (explore mode).

TactileView digital pen

The digital pen enhances the functionality of the TactileView software for a visually impaired user. It replaces and extends the use of a regular mouse.

The digital pen acts as a mouse to operate the software (by clicking opening menus and selecting options) or as a pen in a bordered area, similar to a digitizer.

The digital pen itself resembles an ordinary ballpoint pen. In the tip we can find a tiny transmitter that transfers a signal to a receiver. The receiver is placed alongside the TactiPad or the ClickPad and is connected via USB to the computer. Via the receiver, the position of where the pen is within the surface of the pad is transmitted. Just like a regular mouse, you can click by pressing down with the pen anywhere on the surface (the tip is pushed inward slightly).

See also the section ‘Operating the TactileView digital pen’.

TactiPad drawing board

The TactiPad can be used to create free-hand drawings or more exact drawings with the help of the tools (ruler, protractor, triangle and compasses). The GraphGrid and CircleFrame accessories extend the range of drawings that can be made even further. These devices can be used by all age groups, starting from the age of 4.

Depending on the age and the purpose of the diagram, it can be more exact for teaching basic concepts, for explaining and teaching math and science or for fun drawing in which preciseness is required. On the other hand, the TactiPad can also be used for a quick sketch.

The TactiPad is specifically useful as a valuable and convenient method of communication between a VIP and a sighted person.

See also

TactileView ClickPad

The ClickPad holds printed audio-tactile diagrams (tactile graphics that contain audio information objects with audio style) and is available in various sizes for different paper sizes. For more information, read the section ‘What is an audio tactile diagram’.

TactileView design – and production software

The software is in the first place aimed towards a sighted user. However, it is fully accessible with a screen reader. All menus and dialogs have short cut keys. The software has functionality to support screen reader users. Extra menus become available in the software when the digital pen is connected.

11.03 Considerations

As mentioned in ‘Introducing the TactileView tactile graphics suite’, using the TactileView digital pen in most cases requires a high level of experience. We strongly suggest to practise the various skills in a certain order to develop the necessary skills before starting to use and combine the products in the TactileView Graphics Suite.

Depending on the amount of support at hand, we recommend to take care of some preconditions to avoid disappointment in using the TactileView digital pen. Make sure all sections in the category ‘Using TactileView with a screen reader’ are mastered as well.

Why drawing with the digital pen on the TactiPad?

Do you wish to digitize the drawing that you create on the TactiPad drawing board? Do you want to share your digital designs with others for further processing? Or do you want to use the objects in TactileView for more accuracy in your drawings?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, there are specific advantages to using the digital pen to combine the functionality of both TactileView and the TactiPad. In other cases, the separate use of both products will usually be sufficient.

Keep in mind that the skill level of the combination of products is

Please note, we bring up this question while the effort involved in to creating a digital design is relative high.

Why using a TactileView ClickPad?

By its nature, braille characters have a fixed size that takes up a relatively large amount of space in a tactile graphic. For diagrams in which many (braille) text labels are required, the addition of an audio information layer can help to reduce the amount of space needed for text information. Specific areas in design can be provided with audio labels that provide spoken information. When clicking with the digital pen on the position of the audio style, its content will be pronounced. The audio content can be text (using Text to speech) as well as music or microphone recordings (.mp3 files).

See the section ‘Adding audio style’ to find out how audio styles can be added to the design.

11.04 TactileView digital pen – Basic operation

Initial rest state

Initially, the digital pen will be in its ‘rest state’, in which nothing will be drawn in the software when moving or pressing down with the pen. This way, any unintentional ‘pen contact’ (pressing down with the pen tip) will not yet cause any changes in the design. The rest state of the pen is announced by a tinkling sound when pressing down.

In order to change the operation/function of the pen, open the context menu by pressing the pen down anywhere on the surface for 1 second. You will hear a sound of five ascending tones. After the fifth tone, the context menu is opened. Releasing the pen before the last tone was played will not open the context menu. This allows you to cancel before unintentionally opening the menu.

Selecting an option from the context menu

After the context menu has opened, the pen is used to operate the software by cycling through the available options and making a selection. The selected option will be pronounced by the screen reader.

The context menu both contains functions for drawing on the TactiPad, as well as exploring audio tactile diagrams on the ClickPad.

Audio reading system with TactileView digital pen and ClickPad

In the explore mode (Ctrl+E), the audio information in audio-tactile diagrams can be explored. The printed design is placed on the ClickPad and the corresponding digital design is opened in TactileView. By clicking with the pen in the tactile diagram, any audio information that is present at this position is activated.

11.05 Using Explore Mode (ClickPad)

Explore mode allows you to interact with a TactileView file the way a user will. For example, when you click a text label in a file while using explore mode, the text label will be voiced via text-to-speech instead of becoming selected so that you can edit it like it does in design mode. Similarly, the audio labels for drawing objects will play when the object is clicked, instead of the object becoming selected for editing.

Limited options for changing audio information in the file are available within explore mode, but otherwise files cannot be edited from this mode. If you would like to make changes to anything else in the file, you must switch back to design mode to do so.

You can control some user settings from explore mode, such as selecting a voice or initiating digital pen calibration. For information on calibrating the digital pen or using it with a file in explore mode, please refer to the Connecting and Calibrating the Digital Pen and Using Explore Mode with the Digital Pen tutorials.

Entering explore mode

In order to use a file in explore mode, you must first open it in TactileView, which defaults to design mode when a file is opened. Once you have a file open, explore mode can be activated in one of three ways: by selecting the Explore with Speech and Sound icon from the tool bar across the top of the screen, by selecting the Explore with Speech and Sound option from the View menu or by pressing CTRL+E.

Exploring a file

When you first open a file in explore mode, certain information about the file is automatically voiced. The name of the currently selected speech voice is spoken, as well as the title of the file. TactileView also tells you how many audio styles (audio labels) are in the file when you first enter explore mode.

You can explore the file by clicking different items in the file with the mouse. The digital pen provides an accessible way to explore the file. For more information on using the digital pen with TactileView files in explore mode, please refer to the Using Explore Mode with the Digital Pen tutorial.

When you click on a text label, the text in the label is spoken via text-to-speech. When you click on an object with an audio label, the audio label is played. If the audio label contains both synthesized speech and a sound file, the synthesized speech will begin first and then the sound file will play. Clicking on a blank area or on an object other than a text label that does not have an audio label will cause TactileView to voice “empty.”

Changing an object’s audio label

If you discover an object that does not have an audio label and want to add one, you can right-click it and choose Change Audio Style for Object option from the context menu. This brings up the audio label properties dialog, which allows you to create an audio label the same way you would in design mode. For more information on the options on this dialog, please refer to the Adding and Editing Audio Labels tutorial. When you are done making changes, choose the OK button to close the dialog and apply your audio label.

You can also edit existing audio labels for an object by right-clicking the object and choosing Change Audio Style for Object from the context menu to bring up the audio label properties dialog. Make any desired changes on this dialog, then choose the OK button to close the dialog and apply your changes to the audio label.

Adding a voice memo

Sometimes it can be useful to add an audio label without attaching it to a drawing object. This is especially true when the file you’re working with is a fused bitmap, because nothing in a fused bitmap is selectable. This type of audio label, called a voice memo, is shown in the file and can be clicked to hear the audio information, but it will not be embossed in the drawing when the file is embossed.

To add a voice memo, right-click anywhere in the file and choose the Place Voice Memo option from the context menu. To define your voice memo area as a small circle, click the place in the file where you’d like the voice memo to be. To create a line as the voice memo area, click and drag the mouse to draw the line, then release it. To create a freehand closed shape as the voice memo area, click and drag the mouse to draw the shape, releasing the mouse button close to the starting point of the freehand shape object.

As soon as you have defined the voice memo area, the software will begin recording from the computer’s microphone to create the voice memo content. If you wish to record from the microphone for your voice memo, begin speaking into the microphone immediately and then click anywhere in the file to finish recording. If you would like to create a different type of voice memo, simply click anywhere in the file after defining the voice memo area to quickly end the recording process, then right-click the voice memo area to bring up the standard audio label properties dialog and define your audio label as desired.

Setting the voice for text-to-speech

To choose a different voice for synthesized speech for audio and text labels, right-click anywhere in the file, pick the Select a voice option from the context menu and choose the desired voice from the pull-down list to the right. TactileView will immediately begin using the newly-selected voice for synthesized speech.

Exiting explore mode

When you wish to return to design mode, press ESC on the keyboard or right-click anywhere in the file and choose Quit Explore Mode in the context menu.