Braille and Tactile Maps

Braille and Tactile Maps

The LightHouse designs and produces tactile maps of parkland, theme parks, transit systems, street maps and floor plans.

One of the biggest challenges faced by blind travelers is obtaining a concept of their surroundings. Braille maps have been difficult to come by, being rare if not non-existent. Thanks to a partnership between the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute and the San Francisco LightHouse for the Blind, one can now obtain hard copy maps.

Our maps consist of raised lines and four-color printing for high contrast. Labels appear in Braille and large print. Each map is paired with a key explaining the symbols used.

Clutter is the enemy of tactile and even including Braille labels (29 pt font) can introduce clutter. We are aware of this and our maps are designed to be clutter-free and simple to read.  As a response to “over-simplification” we can even add extra-auditory information back in, making maps talk with the aid of a Live Scribe Smartpen.

Tactile maps are a welcome option for obtaining useful information. They are definitely an aid for mobility instructors and professionals looking to convey map information. Travelers moving to a new area, or entering an unfamiliar building can easily learn their surroundings. Service providers and vendors can provide visitors with maps of their buildings.

We look forward to further innovations from our mapping endeavors and appreciate the collaboration with Dr. Josh Miele, Associate Scientist at Smith-Kettlewell to bring accessible information to all.

Send map inquiries to or phone Greg Kehret at 415-694-7349.

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