Tag Archives: tactile

LightHouse Life Hacks: 7 Ways the Bump Dot Can Make Your Life Easier

Ever wonder how someone with low or no eyesight turns their washing machine to the perfect setting? Yes, there’s an app for that, but as it turns out, the answer is way simpler: this week we’d like to tell you about the small but mighty sticker called the Bump Dot.

Bump dots are a low-profile, low-cost way to strategically make your home or office space more accessible and increase your effectiveness and independence. What is a bump dot, you ask? These small, raised dots come in all shapes, sizes and textures and can be put on everything from home appliances to school work. It may seem simple, but it’ll save you from selecting the wrong wash cycle or always playing the squint-and-guess game, so you can spend more time and energy on the important stuff.

To help you get started with Bump Dots, we put together seven highly effective use cases, and hope you’ll come by the Adaptations Store during business hours to pick up a handful of these handy little stickers soon.

  1. Accessorize your home appliances

You can stick bump dots on microwaves, washing machines, dishwashers, ovens and more to mark buttons or setting you use most often. They can help make sense of a touch stovetop so you can stop avoiding the kitchen and get back to cooking your grandma’s recipes or the latest recipe from the LightHouse kitchen.

  1. Enhance your classroom experience

Bump dots can also create a tactile representation of a figure on a board or can be employed to plot points on a graph. Students can greatly benefit from and excel with some extra tactile assistance, no longer feeling lost or bored in school.


  1. Stick ‘em on a computer keyboard

When first learning the layout of a keyboard without sight, sticking a bump dot on a specific key so it is easy to find it.

  1. Identify different colors

Now and then, it may be important for a blind person to be able to identify different colored objects, perhaps for class or work. This daunting task can be accomplished through the combination of different types or numbers of bump dots.

  1. Increase the accessibility of your electronics

Maybe your home phone has no tactile way of identifying the numbers or other buttons, or your cell phone has an inaccessible touch screen. Adding a bump dot will solve that problem in no time.

  1. Label bottles or other containers

The strategic placement of some bump dots on bottles in the medicine cabinet or shower can save you from a load of trouble — so you can stop accidentally using the conditioner as body wash or make sure you’re taking the right daily supplement or prescription medicine without any guess work.

  1. Use different sizes and colors to suit your changing vision

For totally blind individuals, clear dots may work great if you are marking a device that may be used by someone with sight, whereas people with low vision can used brightly colored dots to provide a contrast.

Bump Dot packages range in price from $2 to $10 at the LightHouse’s Adaptations store. Pick some up next time you’re here!

Visit the Adaptations Store.

Adaptations Store Hours

Monday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Tuesday: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Wednesday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Thursdays: 10 am – 5 p.m.

Fridays: 10 am – 5 p.m.

 

See California Like Never Before: MAD Lab creates its largest low vision and tactile map yet

Photo: A close up shows the raised tactile features and brights blues and greens of this accessible map of California.

In the era of Google, reading a map can be deceptively simple. The 664 miles from say, Redding to San Diego, can seem like a simple calculation of hours, minutes, or transit stops – but truly understanding a place’s geography is not so straightforward. That’s why our state’s most reputable sources for accessible education tapped LightHouse to create a map worthy of the institution: encompassing the mountains, rivers, desert expanses and the varied, beautiful patterns of California.

Maps give us the bigger picture, show us how the earth unfolds and inform us how to traverse it – all opportunities blind people crave equally with their sighted peers. Unfortunately, most maps are not accessible. But after months of work, LightHouse’s MAD Lab is proud to present a three-foot large print, braille and tactile map of the entire state of California. It is their biggest tactile map yet.

Commissioned by the State Braille and Talking Book Library in Sacramento, the map will be part of a temporary display at the California State Capitol Building in January. It will later be moved to its permanent home at the Braille and Talking Book Library in Sacramento.

The map is 40 inches tall and 34 inches wide and was printed in six individual sections that make up the completed map. It was printed on the LightHouse’s new UV flatbed printer. High contrast coloration and large print facilitate viewing for people with low vision, and a selection of tactile symbols and fill textures denote cities, rivers, lakes, mountains, forests and deserts.

The whole map of California.
The whole map of California.

The state map went through many iterations in the design process, partially because the MAD Lab designers were met with the challenge of creating background fill textures for lakes and forests that, when touched, didn’t compete with symbols for specific landmarks.

“We had to figure out how to create varied textures, so you can tell there are different features, but also fade into the background enough so mountains and rivers could be felt on top as distinct landforms,” says Designer and Accessible Media Specialist Julie Sadlier.

By scaling down the size of the texture, Julie says they were able to achieve this. The first full draft of the map was printed in early December. The LightHouse’st Frank Welte was the first blind person to see the map after it was assembled.

A close-up shot demonstrates some of the fill textures Julie speaks of, like the circular green texture indicating a forest.
A close-up shot demonstrates some of the fill textures Julie speaks of, like the circular green texture indicating a forest.

“I’m a California Native, so I’ve seen some tactile maps of the state before but this one was probably the biggest tactile map of California I’ve ever seen,” says Frank. “It was fun to explore parts of California with which I’m not familiar, like the Northeastern part.”

And though exploring California is a perk, the overarching goal of the display is to raise awareness about the work of the Braille and Talking Book Library and its role in braille literacy and services for the blind and low vision community.

“One of the hardest things in the network of libraries serving the blind is getting the word out about our work,” says Director of the library Mike Marlin. “We provide a free service, so this display is a really helpful outreach tool. It gets our work in front of legislators and the public.”

Frank too, hopes the map encourages more institutions and organizations to make tactile maps and other material available to their communities.

“I think it is wonderful for tactile graphics to be given high visibility, so that the general public can appreciate their value as we in the blind community already do,” he says.

MAD Lab is an important resource in collaborating with organizations to make these kinds of accessible tactile tools available. The MAD Lab has earned a reputation for producing fabulous tactile media of all kinds, including raised line drawings, tactile graphics and tactile maps like this one for Alcatraz, and other GGRNA maps – for everything from Burning Man to BART.

For a rate sheet or an informal quote on a business project, contact MADLab@lighthouse-sf.org or call 415-694-7349.

Feel The Burn: We Made a Tactile Map of Black Rock City for Blind Burning Man Attendees

Black Rock City map - front cover

As Burning Man has ballooned from a desolate San Francisco gathering to a massive, world-famous yearly festival, it has also stood by its ambitious “10 Principles,” the first of which is “Radical Inclusion.” But for some, the annual, ever-evolving desert colony may still seem to be a daunting frontier for blind and low vision individuals.

But what is it, really, that might keep a blind person from taking on Burning Man? Maybe it’s simply the things that might deter anybody else — radical temperatures, alkali dust storms, swarms of hungry insects, or just the throng of 70,000 that descends on Black Rock City every year. And yet if you have even a slight taste for adventure that might sound perfectly enticing. Could it be that, short of courage, the real obstacle is simply finding the right tools for the journey?

Here at LightHouse we pondered this question — and then we built the perfect new tool to answer it. It’s an elegant, straightforward rendering of Black Rock City, in its entirety, in a booklet that you can read without your eyes. A combination of raised lines, braille dots, and special embossed symbols, the map gives you the location of every street, camping area and official point of interest at this year’s Burning Man festival. That includes straightforward destinations such as restrooms or medical stations as well as more poetic points of interest such as “Life Cube,” “Serpent Mother,’ or the “Burner Express Bus Terminal.”

map showing street names and points of interest

With sparse cell reception and weak wi-fi across the massive, makeshift encampment, a physical map is the simple, dependable way to navigate the more than 50 miles of roads set up to accommodate Burning Man each year. Some intrepid blind travelers have done it without paper maps in the past, though using GPS meant needing a phone and/or Braille display ready, charged, and exposed to the elements — not exactly the liberating experience promised by the Nevada desert. The spirit of cooperation and generosity is high, of course, but for the rugged individualist, the enterprising, independent blind or low vision person who wants to truly have their own experience on their own terms, our map is a fantastic new tool.

Julie Sadlier, our one of our specialists on the Access to Information team, which makes tactile maps of anywhere from UC Berkeley to Disneyland, recently read about the Burn’s “Mobility Camp,” Burning Man’s center for those with mobility impairments (wheelchairs, crutches, walkers). She realized that blind and low vision burners needed mobility tools, too. So she set to work creating the Black Rock City Tactile Map, a hybrid of the official map and a crowdsourced Google Map. Knowing that the city is different every year, she was careful to only add destinations liable to be in the same location as previous years. The result is a map that delivers more useful features than many online maps, but remains clean and uncluttered. And like all of our maps, it’s the nimble type of solution that can be updated and printed by our accessible media team in just a few days.

tactile map showing restrooms and medical tents

“Even if it’s just a very small minority of people that go to Burning Man with a visual disability,” she said this week, “I wanted to have something available to them, to have access to information, to make Burning Man Accessible.” Julie plans to drop off one map at Playa Information Services at Center Camp, and says she will have another one with her at camp Love Potion, located at 7:30 and G, for anyone who’d like to check it out. If you’d like to get your own, email madlab@lighthouse-sf.org as soon as possible.

Passing the map around the office, perhaps it shouldn’t surprise that the blind and partially sighted employees responded with particular enthusiasm. Those who couldn’t be bothered to think about the event before were suddenly brimming with curiosity. When asked to assess the map and proof for errors, our braille specialist Frank Welte suddenly found himself intrigued, running his hands over the book, becoming familiar with its stations and roads, and studying the various POI’s studded throughout the pleasingly symmetrical desert settlement. He’d never been to Burning Man, but the map was a small revelation. Julie watched with satisfaction as his interest piqued: “He had so many questions for me, He said ‘I never really wanted to go, but now I kind of do, I want to go see this art, experience this place’.”

We’re looking for blind burners! If you’re headed to the playa next week, please email wbutler@lighthouse-sf.org or madlab@lighthouse-sf.org so that we can get a map in your hands.

If you’d like to inquire about tactile maps for your festival, venue, or area of interest, please email madlab@lighthouse-sf.org or call 415-694-7349.

Let Transit Agencies Know what Bay Area Blind People Think

Here at the LightHouse, we’ve become well-known for our tactile and talking maps, transit system strip maps, and other forms of accessible wayfinding tools that go above and beyond what the ADA mandates for the public. We have amassed lots of data about transit and traveler preferences, but we always need more — which is why we need your help.

We are conducting an online survey regarding your experience and ability to travel independently as a person who is blind or low vision. Your answers, together with the responses of other blind and visually-impaired travelers, will help us understand real-world challenges and solutions for orientation and mobility across a wide variety of individual abilities. Your answers will be completely private, and will only be published in our grant report to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

TAKE THE SURVEY

Please answer all of the questions to the best of your ability. This survey should take approximately twenty minutes to complete. If you prefer to take the survey by phone please do not hesitate to contact us by e-mail at madlab@lighthouse-sf.org or by phone at 415-694-7349.

Thank you very much in advance for your help with this project!

To take the survey on the web, follow the link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XV9ZP79