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Braille and Tactile Graphics

Embossed text above Braille
Roland DG Mid Europe Italia, CC BY 2.0

Requesting Braille and Tactile Graphics

One of the alternative communication services provided by Accessible Technologies is the transcription of materials into Braille for students and employees with disabilities. To use Braille Services, students or employees with a disability need an accommodation referral from either ADA & Accessibility Services or Services for Students with Disabilities. Those seeking general information about Braille may contact Accessible Technologies by emailing assist@vt.edu. Workload permitting, any faculty, staff, or student may also request Braille Services for university research.

Braille production is available in both EBAE and UEB. Options include:

  • Grade 1 Braille (uncontracted)
  • Grade 2 Braille (contracted)
  • Nemeth Code (for mathematics and sciences)
  • Tactile Graphics (for images or illustrations)

Note: Braille is usually embossed using interpoint (Braille on two sides of the page) unless tactile graphics or in-line printing for the sighted are requested.

Braille Requests Procedures

Requests are handled on a first come, first serve basis and should be sumbitted through a Braille help ticket. The form will ask for the information listed under the Information Needed for Braille Request section. Although not the preferred method, paper files can be delivered in-person or by campus mail to Accessible Technologies, 2020 Torgersen Hall (0292).

Guidelines for Instructors

We recognize that instructors may have dozens of documents needing transcription in a given semester and we do our utmost to complete and return Braille requests in a timely manner. However, please know that the amount of lead time needed for a request varies based on the type of request, volume of material, and complexity (for example, graphics and mathematics require longer transcription lead time). If your request does not fall into any of the categories listed below or are printed materials on paper, please expect at least 1 to 2 weeks for transcription. Approximate, minimum lead times for documents to be processed are listed below:

Document Turnaround Times
Material to be Transcribed Turnaround Time
Class Notes (MS Text) 2 weeks
Class Notes (LaTeX) 1.5 weeks
Class Notes (PowerPoint) 4 weeks
Quizzes 2 weeks
Tests 2 weeks
Lab Instructions 1 3-4 weeks
Final Exams 2 weeks
Lab Manuals 1 1 semester
Textbooks 2 2 semesters

As stated above, the lead times for processing Braille transcripts are only estimates. The quality and timeliness of Braille transcriptions are dependent on professors and teaching assistants anticipating any Braille request at least two weeks in advance of the student's need for the work.


  1. Lab instructions are different from lab manuals. Lab manuals are transcribed the same way as textbooks are transcribed. Lab instructions are shorter, individual documents, usually 15 pages or less including graphics. A complete set of lab instructions is no more than 100 pages.
  2. Textbooks. A minimum of 2 semesters notice is required for the production of textbooks. A full year is preferred for textbooks with greater complexity, such as mathematics or science texts.

Information Needed for Braille Request

  • Name of requestor
  • Course or Event
  • Date you need to receive the materials
  • Whether you will pick up materials from Accessible Technologies (room 2020 Torgersen Hall) or have them returned by campus mail
  • File(s) for transcription attached

File Formats

We can produce Braille from any of the following formats:

  • MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint *
  • PDF
  • LaTeX (.tex): preferred for Mathematics courses
  • Paper
  • Graphics (.svg and .png preferred)
  • Scanned documents and images: Must be scanned at 600 dpi in black and white. Please contact us for processing instructions should the content be on paper or from a textbook.
  • Handwritten Document: We cannot accept handwritten documents. This includes handwritten documents that have been scanned.
  • Online Homework Systems: Online homework systems are typically inaccessible to screen readers and other assistive devices for the blind. We recommend finding an alternative method for homework assignments. 
  • Other Braille Formats: We do not currently support music braille but may be able to find an alternative accommodation or a source of Braille, if requested.
* PowerPoint and Keynote are challenging formats to make accessible and transcribe. We recommend setting up an appointment with us in advance of preparing slide presentations to address the challenges of making them accessible and/or preparing them for transcription.