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Tactile Intersection Diagrams Packet

Participants Get the Feel of Streets of San Francisco at SFMTA Sponsored Workshop

Participants Get the Feel of Streets of San Francisco at SFMTA Sponsored Workshop

On April 8, LightHouse, in partnership with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), held a second Tactile Intersections Workshop to promote the citywide campaign Safety—It’s Your Turn. The campaign is designed to encourage safer driving around left turns. Individuals who are blind or have low vision who live or work in San Francisco joined LightHouse Orientation & Mobility (O&M) Specialist Sarah McIntyre and Senior Accessible Media and Braille Specialist Frank Welte for the workshop where they received an overview of interpreting and comprehending tactile diagrams of various intersections found throughout San Francisco.

Upon registering for the workshop, participants were sent a packet of the tactile intersection diagrams (designed and produced in-house by LightHouse’s Media and Accessible Design Lab) to follow along from home with Sarah and Frank as they guided students through understanding what the different tactile traffic lines and symbols on each diagram represented. The two LightHouse employees made a dynamic duo as they offered valuable insights, as Sarah has the many years’ experience teaching O&M and working alongside blind and low vision people, while Frank has the first-hand knowledge and experiences of traveling in cities all over the country as a blind man.

“Understanding how various common types of intersections are configured and how traffic flows through them makes it possible for a blind traveler to cross streets efficiently and safely in a wide variety of situations.” Frank said. “The intersection diagrams produced by the LightHouse make it much easier for Orientation & Mobility students to acquire this important knowledge.”

I had the opportunity to participate in last week’s workshop. As a person who has low vision and as a non-driver, I found the workshop incredibly informative. The geography of San Francisco is unique with its many neighborhoods and busy city streets that spread out across climbing hills and flat shorelines, but while it makes for a beautiful landscape, it also makes for many complicated travel routes, both in car and on foot. Exploring the different types of intersections and gaining an understanding of what all the painted lines along the city streets actually mean helped me form and understand my own mental map of the city and specifically different busy traffic areas within my own neighborhood.

“I’ve used the intersection diagrams in two different ways,” Sarah McIntyre explained. First, with students who started learning intersection analysis and street crossing skills in person, I’ve used the intersection diagrams to reinforce and strengthen what they had begun learning.

“Second, with students who are learning spatial awareness skills and have progressed to the point of examining TMAPs [tactile street maps produced using an automated tool], I’ve used the intersection diagrams to discuss the different types of intersections found along their routes.”

Building confidence, independence and knowledge for those in the blind and low vision community is at the heart of every service LightHouse provides. It is a very empowering experience to partner with local agencies like SFMTA to help increase safety and awareness, not just for San Francisco’s blind and low vision residents and commuters, but for everyone who travels the streets of our beloved San Francisco.

If you missed out on the workshop but are interested in obtaining a copy of the Tactile Intersections Diagrams packet, you can do so by ordering the diagrams from the LightHouse store, Adaptations, by calling (888) 400-8933 or finding LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired under specialized help in the Be My Eyes app. For more information about the fantastic strides the city is making to improve traffic safety visit SFMTA’s Safety—It’s Your Turn page on their website. For any inquiries about Orientation & Mobility lessons and services provided by LightHouse, contact info@lighthouse-sf.org or Esmerelda Soto at 415-694-7323.

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…