woman with guide dog wayfinding at bus stop

Tactile Maps and Wayfinding Tools

The LightHouse has a diverse portfolio of tactile maps and wayfinding tools that includes clients such as UC Berkeley, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Music Festivals, and the Calgary Transit System,

If you’re considering a tactile map for your event or venue, contact MADLab@lighthouse-sf.org.

More information about tactile and talking maps:

Because of the visual nature of most information, people who are blind or have low vision cannot readily use the wealth of information provided in the environments for general information, wayfinding and safety. Tactile maps are highly effective at remediating these concerns.

Having created numerous tactile, audio-tactile, and strip maps of transit systems, colleges, hospitals, amusement parks, park and trail maps the LightHouse is the preeminent trailblazer in the design of maps used by blind and visually impaired people.

By including blind designers and collaborators, we always ensure the needs of the blind are intimately understood and properly addressed in the final product. We have successfully created tactile, audio-tactile, and strip maps of several San Francisco Bay Area transit systems and City of Calgary’s complex transit system. As the vanguard creators of tactile transit maps, we are uniquely prepared to design and implement cutting-edge tactile maps for transit agencies.

By incorporating Braille as well as large print, we can ensure that the majority of blind travelers benefit from tactile maps regardless of their skill level. Successful tactile transit guides relay information in ways where braille is not a necessary skill. For example, raised lines identify walls and paths of travel, and special symbols not related to Braille indicate points of interest such as the location of entrances and exits. By using, but not relying solely upon Braille, we can ensure that the majority of blind travelers will benefit from tactile transit maps regardless of their Braille skills.

The study “Attitudes of Visually Impaired Persons Toward the Use of Public transportation” found that a majority of individuals surveyed experienced frustration at not being able to drive and having to depend on others for their transportation needs; however those surveyed also reported that using effective public transit allowed them to remain independent.

Despite regular use of public transportation among individuals in the blind and visually impaired community, the study found that the majority of travelers had difficulty with the following aspects of public transit:

  • Estimating where they were when they were traveling;
  • Finding pick-up points for different modes of transportation;
  • Communicating with the driver about where to stop;
  • Getting to and from the nearest bus stop.

To discuss the creation of tactile maps, wayfinding tools and their many forms and applications, please contact MADLab@lighthouse-sf.org.

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