Accessible jigsaw puzzles for the blind and visually impaired

Author: @nicolekada1

Description of Idea:
I’m looking to create tactile/textured jigsaw puzzles for those who are blind and visually impaired. I’ve designed one prototype so far, but it needs improvement, that I believe can be done with a 3d printer, but I am blind and unsure of how accessible one would be. Currently, my puzzle is bland. Lets say our focus is the very top left corner piece. I have stuck on two foam stickers, one a circle and the other a square. The end that connects to the circle also has a circle and the end of the connecting piece that connects to the square also has a foam square on it. The blind person matches the puzzle pieces by matching them with their matching foam counterparts. I’ve also used buttons, googly eyes, and pipe cleaners as indicators. Rather than gluing pieces to the puzzle, I aim to create something where the indicators are raised. I’d also love to create puzzles where the picture is also raised, so the blind person can enjoy a puzzle the way a sighted person would. For any recommendations, please let me know. If anyone would like to work with me, I’d be glad to! This is a dream of mine and I won’t give up! Thanks for any input! Take care!

MMC Entry I.D: 6368


We can scan a greyscale image and turn it into a 3D relief map, which can then be sliced up into your puzzle pieces. in fact the pattern of the piece cuts can also be a line drawing that creates another relief object that can be subtracted from the “picture” object to separate the pieces. You can then print the pieces… I’ve never actually tried this process end-to-end, but it seem quite doable to me.
How many pieces were you imagining per puzzle?

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@MMC_Suzanne @MMC_Courtney @MMC_Shanelle not sure whos region this is in(I can’t access Salesforce to check) can one of you? User needs to be contacted and invite to the forum

Would laser etching then cutting acrylic work? This puzzle was made using laser cut wood but splinters could be a problem:

This puzzle concept based on a 3D terrain map could be interesting:

Both of those ideas are cool. The laser etching looks pretty fast and easy, once you have a design, and maybe a Varathane coating could help with splinters. I’ve been playing with translating grayscale into relief maps, but the trouble is that the gray level isn’t really an indicator of depth directly, so it’s tough to make a relief that actually brings the image to mind. I suspect the answer is to actually do the 3D design itself, which is a stretch for my artistic talent. From Thingiverse: Heart Shaped Jigsaw Puzzle this is also a very popular item and free to download from their website.

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@MMC_Suzanne, the braille puzzle looks neat. @jwintour, the heart puzzle also looks good.

Another option to consider is scroll-saw 3d puzzles. There are many designs online. Nonprofits, like this one near me, which focus scroll saw items could produce some puzzles.

We have a few of the Braille puzzles from the Fittle Project printed in the office. They are pretty neat.
@nicolekada1, I’m not sure how accessible that site is. They are freely available designs for 3D printable puzzles. The puzzles are shaped with the outline of a particular object, and divided up into a number of pieces that correspond to the number of letters in the name of the shape. Each piece has a Braille character and they connect together to form the shape and spell the word.

I would be willing to try some simple ideas for pieces on my 3D printer. I can design any shape and top surface/emboss on my 3D modeling software (Solidworks).
Can discuss some more, describe some sample pieces and I’ll see what I can make.
Rich (Georgia, USA)

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@nicolekada1 are you still looking for support for the 3D puzzle pieces?