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tactile map

Maps, at Your Fingertips: The LightHouse Store Announces On-Demand Tactile Maps

Have you ever wanted to get to know the lay of the land before heading to a new city, campus or neighborhood? Wish you could just generate a quick, raised-line aerial map the way others do with Google? Whether it’s the blocks around your kid’s new school or a conference in San Diego — it’s not always easy to get a quick overview of a neighborhood before visiting. And unfortunately, mobile web mapping systems like Google or Apple Maps tend to fall short for blind users when it comes to getting the “big picture.”

Thanks to a collaboration between the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute and our Media and Accessible Design Lab, we’re pleased to announce that you can now order on-demand tactile maps of the area of your choosing for just $19 (plus shipping and handling) from our Adaptations Store. The tactile street maps depict the area around a user-specified address or intersection, using raised lines along with a circle marking the point of interest in the center of the map. Braille and large print labels indicate street names and other critical area information like cardinal directions, scale, and main streets. For those who are new to tactile maps, this is a great way to get started with this invaluable, always dependable tool for blind and low vision travelers. And for O&M teachers, or those learning how to travel with a dog or cane, this new instant service will make a tremendous difference.

To order a map, just call our product specialists at the Adaptations Store at 1-888-400-8933 and specify the destination of the map you’re interested in. Within two business days we’ll place your order, ship it or make it available for pick up at the store.

What’s in the package?

  • 3 signature Tactile and ink-printed Maps, generated by the MAD Lab at LightHouse for the Blind, of the area surrounding your point of interest: printed at simple, moderate and dense map scale ratios
  • A tactile map key
  • An explainer page
  • All materials are printed on 11” X 11.5” sheets of embossed paper and include ink / large print labels in addition to braille

Never used a tactile map before? Stop by the Adaptations Store in person and take a look at our pre-printed maps of the area around LightHouse Headquarters at 1155 Market St. We’ll help you get a feel for using tactile maps and you can even take a pre-printed tactile map with you for $19.

TMAP 2.0: Seeking a Web Developer Who Loves Maps

In 2006, we set an ambitious goal: to make on-demand, user-centered tactile maps for blind pedestrians and connoisseurs of the environment. The LightHouse and Smith-Kettlewell Institute joined forces to start TMAP (Tactile Map Automated Production), a way to make tactile street maps readily available to blind pedestrians for the places they cared about most

Ten years later, we now have the resources to reinvigorate the TMAP project at LightHouse. In an ongoing partnership with SKI, we are beginning work on TMAP2.0 – the next generation of digital tools for producing high-quality tactile street maps to help people with visual disabilities navigate new neighborhoods. We are interested in discussing this project with developers who have strong skills and experience in developing apps and web sites that use digital maps and geographical data. If you are such a developer, or if you are interested in learning more about this unique project, please contact Scott Blanks at sblanks@lighthouse-sf.org.