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HALOS® Tactile Icons

 

HALOS® stands for Home Appliance Label and Overlay System. The concept was created from a crowd-funded experiment to test tactile appliance overlays for the visually impaired. We discovered there is a need to standardize tactile cues and provide helpful tactile labels for people to locate and identify buttons on their home appliances.

The HALOS® tactile icon products are stickers that adhere directly to your appliance control panel.  We offer six products in multiple colors.  Each tactile icon package is described on this page.  For a fun introduction to the products, listen or watch our explainer video below.

The following sections are:

Microwave

 

Our most popular tactile icon package.  We have icons for the most common controls - start, stop, add time, power level.  We also added a few convenience icons - popcorn, potato and frozen pizza. 

The package contains two sets of nine tactile icons for a total of 18 stickers.  The colors are: high contrast orange, black, clear, and multicolor.

Includes: Start, Stop/Cancel, Power Level, Add Time, Popcorn, Frozen Pizza, Potato, Defrost, Cook Time

Start tactile icon
Cancel/Stop - the shape is an X
Power Level - the shape is like a staircase, increasing from left to right.
Add Time - the shape is a plus sign
Popcorn tactile icon - the shape is curvy and bulbous like a popcorn kernal
Pizza tactile icon - the shape is a triangle with a rough edge on the upper left representing a slice of pizza with a rough crusty edge.  Yum!
Potato tactile icon - the shape is oval with a rough top like a baked potato.
Defrost tactile icon - the shape is like a water droplet, pointy on the top and circular on the bottom.
Timer - the shape is like an hourglass, wide at the top, narrow in the middle and wide at the bottom.

Oven/Cooker

 

Many oven/cooker control panels have moved away from dials.  These tactile icons can help!  With these labels you won't confuse bake and broil and it is easy to locate the most important button - stop/cancel.   

 

The package contains two sets of nine tactile icons for a total of 18 stickers.  The colors are: high contrast orange, black, clear, and multicolor.

Includes:  Start, Stop/Cancel, Bake, Broil, Up/Increase, Down/Decrease, Timer, Clock and Clean.

Start tactile icon
Cancel/Stop - the shape is an X
Bake tactile icon - the shape is a horizontal line with ridges on the top and the bottom.
Broil tactile icon - the shape is a horizontal line with ridges on the bottom
Up arrow - the shape is pointy at the top and wide at the bottom.
Down arrow - the shape is pointy at the bottom and wide at the top.
Timer - the vertical shape is wide at the top, narrow at the middle and wide at the bottom.
Clock - the shape is a filled circle with a notch at the upper right.
Clean tactile icon - the shape is a diamond, pointy at the top, bottom, right and left.

Washing

Tactile icons for machines that clean things. Such as a washer, dryer, or dishwasher  

The package contains two sets of nine tactile icons for a total of 18 stickers.  The colors are: high contrast orange, black, clear, and multicolor.

Includes: Start, Stop/Cancel, Heavy, Normal, Light, Temperature, Rinse, Spin, Soil Level. 

Start Tactile Icon
Cancel/Stop - the shape is an X
Heavy load - the shape is a bin that is full
Normal load - the shape is a bin that is half full.
Light load - the shape is a bin that is empty.
Temperature - the shape is a vertical line with a small circle on the bottom.
Rinse tactile icon - the shape is supposed to represent a showerhead.  Does that work for you?
Spin tactile icon - the shape is a curved line, representing something that goes around.
Soil level tactile icon - the shape has three vertical bars increasing in height from left to right.

Home Package

The HALOS tactile icon combination package labels many appliances in your home, not just your kitchen.  74 tactile icon stickers in this package!  


The Home package contains four groups of tactile icons - starts and stops, cleaning/washing, cooking, and a keypad package. The Home package is available in high contrast orange, black or clear.  

Starts and Stops

 

Common buttons found on various appliances throughout your home - such as your entertainment system, computers, and climate controller. This group of 20 stickers includes the following tactile icons (quantity) - start (6), stop/clear (6), on/off (4), timer (2), clock (2)

Start Tactile Icon
Cancel/Stop - the shape is an X
On/Off Tactile Icon
Timer Tactile Icon
Clock Tactile Icon

Cooking

 

This group works well on ovens and microwaves. Included are: bake/roast, broil, convection, warming, defrost, increase, decrease, auto/smart mode, power level, light. The package contains two of each icon.

Bake Tactile Icon
Broil Tactile Icon
Convection Tactile Icon
Dry Tactile Icon
Defrost Tactile Icon
Auto/Special/Smart Tactile Icon
Add Time - the shape is a plus sign
Minus/Decrease Tactile Icon
Power Level - the shape is like a staircase, increasing from left to right.
Light Tactile Icon

Cleaning/Washing

 

Use for washers, dishwashers and dryers. Included are: heavy load, normal load, light load, hot, medium temperature, cold, temperature, auto/smart mode, rinse, spin. The package contains two of each icon.

Large/Heavy Load Tactile Icon
Normal/Medium Load Tactile Icon
Light Load Tactile Icon
Hot Tactile Icon
Warm/Medium Tactile Icon
Cold Tactile Icon
Temperature Tactile Icon
Auto/Special/Smart Tactile Icon
Rinse Tactile Icon
Spin Mode Tactile Icon

Keypad

 

The keypad package labels numeric buttons.  Appliances typically have standard number layouts.  The most common is 4x3 (four rows and 3 columns), like a telephone keypad.  Another layout we encounter is the 2x5 (two rows and 5 columns) grid.

  

The package contains 12 flat round stickers and 2 domed round stickers. The domed stickers identify the central number on your keypad.  The central number is also known as the anchor.  It is the most prominent sticker in our collection and easily identified by touch.  The other number buttons are located relative to the anchor.

If the keypad is a 4x3 layout, use the anchor sticker on the 5 button.  To find the 2 button, locate the anchor sticker which is 5, and move up one.  To find the 7 button, locate the anchor sticker, move down one and one position to the left.  Easy!  

If the keypad is a 2x5 layout, use the anchor sticker on the 3 key.  With this layout, the 2 button is left of the anchor.   The 8 button is directly below the anchor and the 7 button is to the left of the 8.    

Custom Labels

 

A custom set of HALOS® tactile icons! We started custom labeling so you could access all your appliance features, not just the tactile icons listed in our predefined packages. Along the way people have requested labels for other equipment such as exercise equipment. So make a request - we will try to label anything that needs tactile identification. 


The custom set is made from the clear material. The package includes the tactile icons, a map identifying the icon positions on the control panel, and instructions to apply the icons.

How to order custom tactile icon labels

 

 

  • Send a picture of the control panel plus the make and model of the appliance to tangibleSurfaceResearch@gmail.com

  • We will evaluate the appliance and email you a quote

  • If you accept the quote, send us your mailing address and we will send you a paypal invoice. You can pay with a paypal account or a credit card.

  • We make the custom set, most likely within 2-4 days. We mail the package through USPS with tracking. Shipping in the US is usually $4.50.

If you have any questions, send us a note! Contact us

halosSizeThickness

Size and Thickness

There is a size and thickness variation between the tactile icon materials and color.  This section explains the differences.

Measurements of Start and Stop tactile icons 

Start and Stop/Cancel icons are used in every package, below are their measurements by color and material.  These are also usually the largest icons in each package.  

  • Orange and Black – Start:  15 x 11mm,   Stop: 14.5 x 11.5mm

  • Multicolor – Start: 18.5 x 13mm,   Stop: 17.5 x 13.5mm

  • Clear – Start: 14 x 10.5mm,  Stop: 13 x 10mm

Details of size and thickness

Orange and Black  

  • The tactile icon material is EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) foam also known as craft foam.  It is a very common material that you find in craft stores.  This material is soft but still holds an edge.

  • The orange and black fit on most appliance interfaces. 

Multicolor

  • The multicolor tactile icon material is also EVA – the same material as the orange and black tactile icons. 

  • The multicolor product was created to serve people with visual impairments and people with developmental impairments.  The recommendation was that some people cue on color and not necessarily shape.  The size of this product was slightly increased to increase visibility.

  • The multicolor shapes may be cramped on smaller control panels. 

  • The multicolor size change is recent and may not be necessary.  If this is a greater burden, then we can change the multicolor to match the size of the Orange and Black.  Please let me know – send a comment on the contacts page. 

Clear

  • The clear tactile icon material is a poly-vinyl film.  It is harder and thinner than the EVA material. 

  • Because the clear material is harder, the edges are more noticeable.  This enables us to create a smaller tactile icon without losing shape recognition.  The clear material can fit the widest variety of control panel sizes, very small to very large.

Why the size variations?

Developing the tactile icons to fit the highly variable control panel sizes has been a bit of a challenge.  The size range of the materials is due partly because of material properties but also an attempt to make a wide variety of sizes available.  Demand and feedback will dictate what works and what doesn’t work.  

Feedback is always welcome and we will do our best to make a product that fits your needs.  Please send comments through the contacts page.

Shopping cart tactile icon - the shape is square with a line extending up at the upper left and rounded corners in the lower right and lower left.  Like a shopping cart!

Where to purchase

Many options to purchase the HALOS® tactile icons

LS&S - Light, Sight and Sound  all tactile icon packages!

Independent Living Aids  all tactile icon packages!

MaxiAids  Microwave, Oven, Washer packages in orange and black

HALOSystem Etsy store - all tactile icon packages!

Where to purchase
Packaging

Non-visual Assembly and Packaging

Starting in 2023 many HALOS packages are assembled and packaged by people who are visually impaired.  WIN-WIN since the majority of people that use these products are also visually impaired.

About this effort 

  • As a society we need to improve employment rates for people with low/no vision.  We are doing our part!

  • We developed tools and methods for non-visual assembly and packaging.  This approach works so well that it is now used by sighted people too.   There is a lesson here.

  • Renewable power and less waste!   The process requires slightly more labor but greatly reduces material waste.  Good for employment, better for the environment.

Meet the makers!

Goodwill Vision Enterprises in Rochester, NY

The manufacturing team is awesome!  Pictured from left to right are Ridhi (Industrial Engineer), Ron, Do and Anne)

About Goodwill Vision Enterprises:

"We are part of the AbilityOne Program, which provides steady, reliable employment for over 45,000 blind or disabled Americans!"

Check out another product made by GVE - The ISEEIT Stand.  A portable, affordable, hands-free mobile device stand created for people with low vision by people with low vision 

Goodwill Vision Enterprises - Ridhi, Ron, Do, Anne

Kay R.  Kay has been testing the HALOS tactile icons from the beginning and helped develop the non-visual assembly process.  She is retired but loves being a part of the HALOS effort so she also assembles and packages HALOS products. 

Kay holding a HALOS tactile icon package she assembled.

Collaborations
 

"Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much." 

Helen Keller

 

The tactile icons have been further developed with the incredible support of the following people:

  • Three visually impaired advisers, Kay R, Kirstyn S and Lisa H.  Sadly the cancer that took Lisa's sight when she was young also took her life when she was in her 50s.  We miss her  

  • Deborah Beardslee, Professor in the School of Design, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)

 

  • RIT students in Professor Beardslee's 2015 Information Design Class,

 

  • Emma Echols, RIT Graphic Design Student as part of an independent study (2016)

 

  • Olin College of Engineering students Anisha, Sean, and Kim and their subject matter expert Jerry for improved descriptions of the tactile icons. (2018) 

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