Number sense and early math can be ongoing challenges for some students who are blind or have learning disabilities. For them, adding a tactile component can be a big help for understanding number sequences, adding, and subtracting. Number lines are great tools, but a simple visual number line isn’t accessible to blind and visually impaired children unless you add braille or large print. Here is an idea for going the extra mile and making your braille number line an interactive tool for solving addition and subtraction problems between zero and ten (0-10).

Parents and teachers can easily make this DIY Interactive Number Line for students to solve addition and subtraction problems up to ten!

tactile interactive number line


  • Print the Tactile Number Line PDF on cardstock or thick paper.
  • Laminate the sheet for extra durability (optional).
  • Run the sheet through the brailler to emboss the braille numbers. If you don’t have access to a brailler, try these braille number stickers available from American Printing House (APH).
  • Use tactile paint to add dimension to the number line circles and upwards. Allow it to dry for several hours.
  • After it is completely dry, use an Exacto knife to cut a small hole to the left of the zero circle and a small hole to the right of the ten circle. This is where the ends of the pipe cleaner will go through.
  • Add two beads onto the pipe cleaner. Center the pipe cleaner across the number line and insert one end in each hole. Use tape on the reverse side to hold it in place.
  • Set both beads on the zero mark then get ready to solve some math problems!

Using the Number Line for Solving Math Problems

To use the interactive number line for solving simple addition and subtraction problems with answers between 0-10, first set both beads to the left on the zero mark. If your student is solving an addition problem, show him how to hold the left bead with his thumb and index finger so that both beads slide to the right. Count the number of tactile lines until he arrives at the number for the first addend. Leave it at that number. You can encourage the student to read the braille number underneath to ensure he’s at the right spot along the number line. Then slide only the right bead over counting the number of marks along the way. Stop when you’ve counted over the correct number of spaces. Finally, read the number underneath the bead. The number it lands on is the sum!

For subtraction problems, simply slide both beads over to the spot marking the larger number called the minuend that he is subtracting from. Leave the right bead there and then slide the left bead towards the left subtracting the correct number of spaces along the way (the subtrahend). The number he lands on is the answer, which is called the “difference”!

*Note: When sliding the beads, encourage the child to place the fingertip of his index finger on the paper so he can feel the tactile marks as he counts.

Tips for Modifications

  • You can use tape (removable is handy for reusing) to keep the number line from sliding around on the desk or use a gripper mat underneath. You may also wish to laminate the cards after printing- but before adding the braille and tactile elements- to enhance the durability for prolonged use.
  • It may be beneficial for some students to use two different shaped or varying textured beads so he can more easily tell them apart from right and left.