Paths to Literacy

for students who are blind or visually impaired

3D Printed Tactile Maps Increase Accessibility on University Campus

3D printed tactile map of campus

Howard Kaplan, a visualization specialist at the University of South Florida in Tampa, has created a unique 3D printed tactile version of maps for some classrooms on campus, which may soon be available for people with visual impairments.  The tactile maps that he has created follow an encoding system, which ensures that the tactile symbols have proper height, texture and depth.  These tactile maps indicate whether a floor is slanted or flat, and also include details such as location of emergency exits, whether doors are a push or pull, and whether or not there are stairs. 

Tactile map with braille

While 3D tactile maps are no longer new, they are still not consistently available in public locations.  These maps at the University of South Florida are especially noteworthy because they make emergency exit information accessible with the evacuation route presented in 3D format.

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