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tactile graphics

Touching the News

Topical tactile graphics: get your hands on the pictures making the news!

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Graphics Gallery

Printing Instructions and Supported Embossers

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Sign up to receive tactile graphics files to print at home and surveys to vote on the next week’s tactile graphic.

How big was that iceberg that broke off Antarctica in February?

How big was that iceberg that broke off Antarctica in February?

Map of antarctica with braille labels, detail map of Antarctica and iceberg with braille labels.

Tactile map 1: Antarctica Map

Description: Map of Antarctica with scale lines, showing longitude lines, Antarctic Circle line, and location of Halley VI Research Station.

Tactile map 2: A-74 Iceberg Map

Description: Detail map of Antarctica showing A-74 Iceberg location, with scale lines, lat/long lines, location of Halley VI Research Station, and labels for Weddell Sea and Brunt Ice Shelf.

Source: NOAA, USA Today, Space.com, British Antarctic Survey.

The A-74 Iceberg covers about 1,270 square kilometers. Cities with similar areas: Phoenix, US (1,230 sq. km); Los Angeles, US (1,215 sq. km); Wellington, New Zealand (1,388 sq. km); Delhi, India (1,483 sq. km); London, UK (1,579 sq. km). Source: The Measure of Things.

Download Maps

ZIP folder contains files for producing 2 tactile maps on 8.5 x 11-inch paper:

  • PRNs for ViewPlus Columbia / Delta, APH PixBlaster, IRIE BrailleTrac / BrailleSheet;
  • PDFs for Swell, Microcapsule or PIAF;
  • Reference PDFs with corresponding large print text (not for tactile production).

Printing Instructions and Supported Embossers

How to unzip/uncompress: Windows 10, Windows 8.1, MacOS.

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What does Flattening the Curve look like?

What does Flattening the Curve look like?

Flattening the curve graph, two curves increasing and decreasing along x-axis, with braille labels.

Title: Flattening the Curve.

Description: Graph with three lines, x-axis label: Time since first case, y-axis label: Daily number of cases. The first line is a tall curve labeled “Cases without protective measures,” starts at the origin with its peak high on the y-axis. The second line is a short curve labeled “Cases with protective measures,” starts at the origin, with its peak about 25% height of the first line and further to the right (more time since first case), the top just reaches the third line. The third line labeled “Capacity of the healthcare system” is straight and horizontal at the lower portion of the graph, about 25% up from the origin.

Source: Flattening the Coronavirus Curve, The New York Times,

Download Graphs

ZIP folder contains files for producing tactile graphics on 8.5 x 11-inch paper, landscape:

  • PRNs for ViewPlus Columbia / Delta, APH PixBlaster, IRIE BrailleTrac / BrailleSheet;
  • PDFs for Swell, Microcapsule or PIAF;
  • Reference PDFs with corresponding large print text (not for tactile production).

Printing Instructions and Supported Embossers

How to unzip/uncompress: Windows 10, Windows 8.1, MacOS.

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LightHouse Introduces “Touching the News”

LightHouse Introduces “Touching the News”

Have you ever been reading a news item or watching it on TV, and thought to yourself: “I wonder what that picture is?” Ever witnessed a meme on social media go viral and want to get your hands on it to really understand what it is? As people who are blind or have low vision, we are surrounded by visual information there is no other way to experience without somebody else interpreting it for us, usually by describing it verbally. That, of course, is great. We love and appreciate the thought and effort that goes in to doing that. But what if you were delivered, into your mailbox, a tactile graphic associated with a news story. So you could then emboss it yourself, or have it raised on swell paper?

That very thing will be coming to you in the next couple of weeks. You will also get the opportunity to choose from a list of proposed graphics each time, and the one with the most votes will be the one produced that week.

You might find yourself thinking: “I wish I could get my hands on one of those Oscar statues”, well, now you just might, even without being at the Academy Awards. Space travel might be your obsession and you’re itching to know what the helicopter is like that recently took off from and landed on Mars.

There will be more in the coming days but if you are interested in subscribing to this new free service, send an email to ttn@lighthouse-sf.org.

Printing Instructions for TTN Graphics

When you download you Touching The News graphics, you will find a ZIP file containing a PRN and PDF files. How to unzip/uncompress: Windows 10, Windows 8.1, MacOS.

TTN graphics are designed to be printed on ViewPlus Columbia or Delta, or similar: APH PixBlaster, IRIE BrailleTrac / BrailleSheet) and capsule paper (or Swell, PIAF, Zychem). The braille font and raised lines are specific to each embosser or tactile printer. Results may vary if printed on a different embosser.

All files are for 8.5 x 11-inch paper (letter size), landscape or portrait, depending on best fit.

  1. Open PRN in Tiger Viewer or Tiger Designer, available with embosser driver.
  2. Settings are embedded in the file, including paper orientation.
  3. Print (ctrl-P or ctrl-F, depending on printer).
  1. Open the PDF (Adobe recommended). Send to printer. In print settings:
    • Ensure the paper size is 8.5 x 11 (or letter).
    • Check that the paper orientation matches the file (landscape or portrait).
    • Print at 100% or Actual Size. Do not “fit” or “shrink to fit”.
  2. Print.

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Daily US COVID-19 Vaccine Doses Administered as of March 23

Daily US COVID-19 Vaccine Doses Administered as of March 23

increasing line on graph with braille labels

Tactile graphic title: US: Daily COVID-19 Vaccine Doses Administered, Dec 21, 2020 – Mar 23, 2021

Description: Braille graph with a plotted line increasing along the x- and y-axes, dipping a few times, reaching just over 2.5 million in mid-March. X-axis is Date (December 21, 2020 – March 23, 2021) with markers for Jan 1, Feb 1, and Mar 1. Y-axis is doses, from 0 to 3 million. Note that this shows number of doses, which may be different than number of people vaccinated, depending on vaccine.

Download Graphic

ZIP folder contains files for producing tactile graphics on 8.5 x 11-inch paper, landscape:

  • PRNs for ViewPlus Columbia / Delta, APH PixBlaster, IRIE BrailleTrac / BrailleSheet;
  • PDFs for Swell, Microcapsule or PIAF;
  • Reference PDFs with corresponding large print text (not for tactile production).

Printing Instructions and Supported Embossers

How to unzip/uncompress: Windows 10, Windows 8.1, MacOS.

Source: Our World In Data (also includes data by state)

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Now we carry tactile drawings of intersections that help teachers and students alike

Now we carry tactile drawings of intersections that help teachers and students alike

By Caitlin O’Malior

LightHouse and the Adaptations Store are proud to introduce the newest independent travel training tool in the Orientation & Mobility (O&M) field, the Tactile Intersection Diagrams Packet. This innovative tool was created through the collaboration of LightHouse O&M instructor Sarah McIntyre and the designers in LightHouse’s Media and Accessible Design Lab.

Sarah explains how these tactile diagrams will help people who are blind or have low vision better understand street intersections and crossings through tactile representation.

“O&M Instructors can use these diagrams to facilitate discussions about intersection design, the movement of vehicles, lane-by-lane scanning patterns, and other topics, such as street crossing recovery while working remotely or indoors. They can also be used as a supplement to onsite instruction and can be used as the platform for any number of innovative remote or indoor lessons for all students.”

When you purchase a packet, you’ll receive 13 different diagrams, including:

  • Intersection shapes
  • 4-way stop sign
  • Basic stoplight
  • Multilane basic stoplight
  • 2 pocket turn lanes
  • 4 pocket turn lanes
  • Dedicated turn lanes
  • 1 one-way street
  • 2 one-way streets
  • T-shaped intersection
  • 4 right-turn islands
  • Pedestrian scramble
  • Roundabout

All materials are printed on 8.5 x 11 Swell paper and have been produced by a PIAF (Pictures in a Flash) machine which raises the carbon in the ink print, creating smooth raised tactile lines and shapes. These new tactile intersection diagrams are an improvement upon previous designs.

“I’ve created other tactile intersection diagrams in the past, embossed in heavy duty foil, but they were very labor-intensive to make, were very bulky with sharp edges, and weren’t adaptable. Creating something that was easily portable, user-friendly, and adaptable was one of my ‘bucket list’ projects. I always had it in the back of my head to find out what it would cost to have MAD Lab design them…when the shelter in place order hit, I figured this was my chance to give it a try,” Sarah says.

The Tactile Intersections Diagrams Packet costs $55. If you are an O&M student, an O&M instructor, or someone who loves tactile literacy and learning more about intersections, this is the ideal product for you.

Order your Tactile Intersections Diagram Packet online today at Adaptations.org or call our store at 1-888-400-8933 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Pacific, Monday through Friday, with your questions.

P.S. What’s a pedestrian scramble you ask?

A pedestrian scramble is an intersection that stops all vehicles, allowing pedestrians to cross the intersection in all directions, including diagonally.

Who knew? Our O&M Team…obviously…

TMAP Printing Instructions

When you download your TMAP, you will find a ZIP file with a PDF and 4 (or more) SVG files. The SVG files are Tactile Map page, Print Map page, Tactile Legend page(s), Print Legend page(s). The PDF combines these SVGs to print on our embossers. TMAP files are designed to print on ViewPlus embossers, however they can also be printed on capsule paper (or Swell, PIAF, Zychem), or on Index. Results may vary.

TMAP files are intended for 2-in-1 printing, creating an embossed and ink-print document on a ViewPlus (or Tiger) embosser. ViewPlus embossers may incorrectly print braille from PDFs. To mitigate possible braille errors, complete the steps outlined below. This creates an additional PDF with fonts unembedded, filename ending with “_VP”, ready to emboss. (Please note, this step is only for embossing to ViewPlus, and is not necessary for Swell or capsule paper.)

  1. Download the PDF Unembed Fonts tool from the ViewPlus Downloads page (for Windows only).
  2. Run PDF Unembed Fonts (see sections below: with a mouse or in command line)
  3. Open the PDF with _VP in Adobe Acrobat or Reader. Send to printer. In print settings:
    • Check the Tiger tab to optimize results. Printing “draft” quality is not recommended. On VP Columbia/Delta, Graphics Quality: Best.
    • Check that the paper size matches your TMAP file paper size.
    • Check that the paper orientation matches your embosser output.
  4. Important! If printing tactile-only (NOT using 2-in-1 printing), send odd-numbered pages only (1, 3, etc.).
  5. Print.

Running PDF Unembed Fonts with a Mouse

  1. Create a shortcut to the Unembed program on your desktop.
  2. Drag the PDF on top of the Unembed shortcut icon or browse to the file from the Unembed Fonts tool. This will create a new file with _VP at the end in the original folder.

Running PDFUnembedfonts in Command Line

  1. To ensure the shortest file path, after extracting it is recommended to copy the entire PDFUnembedFonts folder to the root of your C drive (or an external drive). For economy of file path it is further recommended that the PDF also reside in this folder.
  2. From the start menu, Search programs and files, type cmd. Hit Enter.
  3. To point it to the specific directory type cd space c:\pdfunembedfonts
  4. Now to actually run the script on your PDF type pdfunembedfonts space .\filename.pdf. Hit Enter.
  5. If all went well c:\pdfunembedfonts should now contain a version of your PDF, the file name appended with _VP

Though TMAP file can be printed on capsule paper, the braille font is not optimized for this method, and results may vary.

  1. Open the PDF (Adobe recommended). Send to printer. In print settings:
    • Check that the paper size matches your TMAP file paper size.
    • Check that the paper orientation matches your printer output.
    • Print at 100% or Actual Size. Do not “fit” or “shrink to fit”.
  2. Choose braille or large print map:
    • For a map with braille text, send odd-numbered pages only (1, 3, etc.).
    • For a map with large print text, send even-numbered pages only (2, 4, etc.).
  3. Print.

Related Pages: TMAP Main page, Frequently Asked Questions, How to Use TMAP to Make Maps, Reading Tactile Maps, Learn more about TMAP

How to Make a Map Using TMAP

TMAP generates files of tactile street maps, which can be printed with an embosser or on microcapsule paper (either with a PIAF or Swell machine).

TMAP is optimized for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.

Overview

Steps to producing a tactile street map:

  1. Search an address, intersection, or landmark.
    • If search results are ambiguous, choose between several options or search again.
  2. Create the map. Confirm the map address and choose map settings and features.
  3. Download or email the map file.
  4. Emboss or print the map using a ViewPlus (also called Tiger) embosser or Swellform machine, PIAF, Microcapsule paper. Printing Instructions. Or you can contact Adaptations to print and ship the map.

Step by Step Instructions

1. Search Page, where you search for an address

Starting on the Search Page where it says “Welcome to TMAP”, enter an address, landmark, or intersection into the search bar. This search uses Google maps information, so if Google maps recognizes your search query, TMAP will too. This means you can enter names like “Civic Center BART Station”. You can also enter an address, city, and state, omitting the zip code. You can also enter a street address and zip code only, without city or state. Click the Search button.

2. Map Preview Page, where you create a map

You should find yourself on a map preview page showing the address, features and settings options, and a visual map preview. If you do not get the result you were hoping for, search for a new address from the search bar or click on the TMAP logo to go back to the main search page.

2a. Map Preview Page: confirm map address

Check that your map is of the correct location. After the search bar reads “Create map for” followed by the address TMAP found from your search. Is this address correct?

If this address is not what you expected or does not match the address you think you searched, check spelling or try omitting apartment numbers. If you enter an address that Google is unsure of, or is ambiguous, like “Main Street”, TMAP will give you a list of options, showing you a preview of maps of various Main Streets in different cities. Select one of the options, if any are correct, or add city name or zip code for better results.

If you want to make a map of this address, you can continue on to choose settings and add features to your map.

2b. Map Preview Page: settings

Once you have confirmed the map address, choose your preferred paper size, map scale, and distance units.

  • Paper size depends on your printer or embosser, and amount of information you want to show on the page.
  • Map scale is how zoomed in or out you want to be, how much information you want to show on the page, or how dense you want the map to be.
  • Distance units is feet or meters.
  • The default settings are 11.5 x 11-inch paper (standard braille paper size), 1:5000 scale (or about ¼ mile on braille paper), and miles.

2c. Map Preview Page: features

Now comes the fun part where you get to add features to the map. You have the option to include streets, paths, service roads, and railways. (Buildings are currently unavailable, but will be back soon.) We have tried to match the look and content of the map preview to the TMAP output, but occasionally you will notice differences, especially around railways that go underground. Some things to know about features:

  • By default, streets are checked.
  • Checking or unchecking these buttons will not change the map preview.
  • On the map preview, the thicker solid lines are streets, thinner solid lines are service roads, dotted red lines are paths, and dashed lines are railways.
  • All of the data we use to generate map is from OpenStreetMap, an editable, opensource map of the world created by volunteer mapmakers. If someone has not yet mapped the path by your house, it will not show up on TMAP. If you notice something important missing (like your favorite walking trail), please contact us and we will try to add it in to OpenStreetMap.
  • We do not recommend checking all the boxes for every map. Though this may be tempting, it will create a very cluttered and potentially illegible reading experience.
  • For zoomed in map, it’s ok to include paths, service roads, and railways.
  • Service roads are things like alleys, bus lanes, and main routes through parking lots (we have omitted smaller parking lot aisles to eliminate clutter). If these are significant to the reading of your map, then include them. If not, it’s best to omit them.
  • We recommend caution when selecting railways and paths on maps covering large areas since they can blend in and overlap too much with streets, but the density of your map varies based on location, so experiment and play around with it.

2d. Map Preview: pan

By default, the address you searched is in the center of the map preview box. If using a mouse, you can pan to the area you want to print by clicking, holding, and moving any part of the map. If you drag your address outside of the map preview, the center locator dot will no longer appear on your printed map, though the map will still be titled with your searched address.

2e. Map Preview: zoom

If you change map scale from the dropdown above the map, the preview automatically zooms in or out. You can also click on the plus and minus buttons at the top right corner of the map preview.

2f. Create Map

Once you have chosen a paper size, map scale, distance units, and map features, click the Create Map button. This will bring you to the File Preview page where you can download or email the map file.

3. File Preview and Download

On the File Preview and Download page, you have another chance to confirm your map choices. This page reads “Download map for” and lists the address TMAP found from your search. There is also a visual preview of the generated file, showing the print version of the map with streets, street name abbreviations, and any features you selected that appear on the map.

If you aren’t happy with the file preview, you can navigate back to the previous page to edit your selections. If you click the back button on your browser, all settings except map features will be saved (except on Safari, you lucky mapmaker).

If you are happy with the file preview, you can click Download or Email. Emailing the file simply sends the TMAP files to the email address you’ve entered. It will come from tmaps@lighthouse-sf.info When you download your TMAP, you will find a ZIP file containing a PDF and 4 (or more) SVG files. The SVG files are Tactile Map page, Print Map page, Tactile Legend page(s), Print Legend page(s). The PDF combines these SVGs to print on our embossers.

4. Print or Emboss

Now print your map! See Printing Instructions

Having trouble? Check our Frequently Asked Questions or enter a Bug Report. Check out our recent presentation (demonstration at 17:55).

Order TMAPs from Adaptations.org

Related Pages: TMAP main pageHow to Use TMAP to Make Maps, Reading Tactile Maps, Download Introduction to TMAP page, Learn more about TMAP

About TMAP

How can someone without eyesight learn a city block or navigate a new neighborhood? In 2018, the LightHouse of the Blind and Visually Impaired – SF introduced TMAP: Tactile Maps Automated Production, offering on-demand tactile street maps.

Covering an area of several blocks surrounding a given address, TMAP uses both braille and large print to identify streets, represented by crisp, raised lines that can be easily followed with the fingertips.

TMAP is a collaboration of the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute.

Side by side key and tactile map of 1155 Market Street showing braille and print text, tactile and ink street lines.
TMAP of the LightHouse Building location in San Francisco, CA.

Order a map for $25

To order a map, call our product specialists at 1-888-400-8933 or or visit adaptations.org and specify the street address of the map you’re interested in receiving. Within two business days we’ll ship you your map.

What’s in the package?

  • You will receive two maps of the same address, a zoomed-out overview map, and a zoomed-in detail map showing streets, paths, and buildings, if the data is available
  • A tactile map key
  • An introductory page (download intro page)
  • All materials are printed on 11” X 11.5” sheets of embossed paper and include ink / large print labels in addition to braille

Learn more about the MAD Lab where these maps are produced.

Contact

Recent Presentations: At Home With APH: TMAP – Building Environmental Literacy at a DistanceMobility Matters 2020 Slides, Mobility Matters 2020 Video Presentation

Related Blog Posts: Maps, at your Fingertips, New local tactile maps at Adaptations

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