Millions of people with a visual impairment across the world are denied access to visual images. They are unable to enjoy the simple pleasures of viewing family photographs, those in textbooks or tourist brochures and the pictorial embellishment of news stories etc. We propose a simple, inexpensive but effective approach, to make content accessible via touch. We use state-of-the-art algorithms to automatically process an input photograph into a collage of icons, that depict the most important semantic aspects of a scene. This collage is then printed onto swell paper. Our experiments show that people can recognise content with an accuracy exceeding 70% and create plausible narratives to explain it. This means that people can understand image content via touch. Communicating scene foreground is a step forward, but there are many other steps needed to provide the visually impaired with the fullest possible access to visual content.

Original languageEnglish
Article number787735
JournalFrontiers in Computer Science
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research by KP is supported in part by the UKRI EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Digital Entertainment (CDE), EP/ L016540/1. Research by MP is partly funded by CAMERA 2.0, the UKRI Centre for the Analysis of Motion, Entertainment Research, and Applications (EP/T014865/1).


  • accessibility
  • automatic object detection
  • communicating photograph content
  • empirical verification
  • icons
  • tactile image recognition
  • tactile representations
  • visual impairments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)


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