Getting in Touch With Tactile Map Automated Production.

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Brandon Biggs

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Abstract - This session will be focused on reviewing and critiquing the study design and analysis methods I have been, and will be doing for a study in progress. I have several road blocks and challenges I need to overcome and would really love feedback. This study is a review of the system Josh Miele developed at SKERI and transferred to the Lighthouse in 2017. In the attached document, the following headings are of particular interest:
  • Important Links: has a link to the data
  • My questions: Questions I would like to pose to the group
  • Research Question: The premise of the study
  • Initial Significant observations of the data: a list of significant observations I have made from the data so far


Maps are critical tools used to communicate spatial information, including landmark, route, and survey knowledge (Brock, Truillet, Oriola, Picard, & Jouffrais, 2015). Surveys conducted on blind individuals, such as Butler, Holloway, Marriott, & Goncu (2017), point to lack of availability being the primary cause of lower tactile map usage. When the blind participants in this study were asked why they wanted a map, the blind users expressed having maps, rather than text descriptions, was transformational and they experienced greater confidence, empowerment, and comfort while traveling after viewing a map. Tactile Map Automated Production (TMAPs) is a system for quickly generating tactile maps of neighborhoods from a specific address (Miele, Landau, & Gilden, 2006), which are downloaded from the online interface and embossed or mailed directly to the individual ordering them. The TMAP project was conceived at The Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute and was transferred to the Lighthouse for the Blind in San Francisco in 2017 for continued support and development as TMAPs 2.0 (Lighthouse, 2020). This paper aims to investigate the effect TMAPs have had on the blind and visually impaired community since its first cluster of beta testers in October 2017, and what TMAPs can do to increase its reach. Ten participants were interviewed for this study: five blind individuals, four orientation and Mobility (O&M) specialists, and one blind O&M. All the users had obtained 2 or more TMAPs in the last year. Our study shows that availability to view TMAPs at home dramatically increases map usage, and suggests that making low-cost maps available with rapid turnaround is the most effective way to increase map usage among blind individuals in the future.

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