Innovation That Matters

Tactile map | Photo source chuttersnap on Unsplash

3D printed tactile map for the visually impaired

Architecture & Design

A visualisation specialist at a US university has created a 3D printed tactile map for people who are blind or have visual impairments.

Howard Kaplan, a visualisation specialist at the University of South Florida, US, has created a tactile map to help people who are blind or have visual impairments navigate around different environments.

The three dimensional map allows users to navigate around various environments by tracing the raised features with their fingertips. Kaplan has developed a tactile code to accompany his 3D map, developing 3D symbols for walls, hallways, paths and more. He then tested these maps with visually impaired and blind people at the University of South Florida. Students tested the portable maps while carrying them around. Larger maps were placed on the wall outside a classroom to guide students entering the room.

When researching existing maps for the visually impaired, Kaplan found that they were simple and not durable. His own map design uses hard plastic. It is also mountable on walls or can be small enough to carry around. Kaplan hopes anyone can use his software to produce a tactile 3D map for any space by Spring 2019.




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