22 January 2019 @ 10:00 am

Creating Tactile Stories

Join us for an introduction to e-textiles and create your very own tactile story page!

In the wonderful setting of the Queen Victoria Gardens in the CBD, learn about the use of tactile storybooks that encourage tactile literacy skills in children who are blind or have low vision. Researchers Leona Holloway and Kirsten Ellis will be joined by expert Louse Curtin to teach you the basics of e-textiles, and how to sew your own simple circuits to create a tactile illustration.

Book your free space at the workshop now, and have a think about your favourite story, book character or nursery rhyme you’d like to bring to life in a new way!

This event will be held at MPavilion on 22 Jan, 10am – 1pm. The workshop is free and accessible for all.

Creating a circuit with conductive thread. Image credit: Tim Morizet
Different stories being told in tactile and visual narratives. Image credit: Tim Morizet
Lots of options for ways of telling tactile stories. Image credit: Tim Morizet

Want to try this at home?

Here are some handy tips and information for creating your own tactile stories! Full instructions will be provided at the workshop.


What you need

  • sewing needles (any type, but chenille needles are recommended for beginner sewers)
  • conductive thread
  • Lilypad battery holder
  • 3.5V battery
  • sewable LEDs
  • Lilypad buzzers
  • felt square
  • decorations (pompoms, textured fabric, bells, whatever you’d like!)

Items can be bought separately or in pre-prepared e-textile kits.


  • Using small stitches, sew from positive (the hole by the + icon) on the battery to positive on the LEDs or buzzer

Tip: Sew through the hole  5-7 times to get a good connection, and don’t leave long tails near the knots!


  • Sew from negative (the hole by the – icon) on the battery to negative on the LEDs or buzzer.

Tip: Don’t cross the positive and negative lines, and don’t leave loops that can touch from positive to negative.


  • Tidy up all tiny pieces of conductive thread (as they can stop the circuit from working) and insert your battery to check your circuit is working
  • Decorate using non-conductive thread and collage materials.


Tips for Making Tactile Story Books


  • Convey meaning

    Use tactile diagrams to teach about concepts. e.g. children loving moving things under/over, up/down, in/out. Use repetition to reinforce meaning.


  • Keep it simple

    What is the most important or distinctive thing about the object you are trying to depict? e.g. use a feather for a bird; a circle of fur for a bear, an oval of grey leather for a hippo; a tube shape (the trunk) for an elephant. Keep your tactile symbol the same throughout a book.


  • Use high contrast.

    The foreground and background should be very different from one another, both visually and tactually. E.g. use black on white; rough on smooth; and thick layers.


  • Touch; don’t look.

    Check your picture with your hands; not with your eyes. Do all of the pieces feel distinct? Can you tell what they are?

Further reading on tactile storybooks