Tactile maps and diagrams

Tactile diagrams are becoming harder to get hold of but are still a useful alternative format option for many people. We think there is room for a cheap and easily available method to revitalise tactile diagrams as a tool for education, navigation and many other situations.

We wanted to remove the requirement for specialist design skills, software and hardware that create such a high barrier to entry for the creation of tactile diagrams.

As a doctoral research project we have been working on a new production method aimed at allowing anyone with freely available and basic software to produce high quality tactile diagrams, and print them in a timely manner using resin 3D printing advances.

3D printed floorplan of a 3 bedroom house, including furniture details.

How it works

production stages diagram showing bone cell examples. Stage 1 shows the originals. Stage 2 shows the 3D designs. Stage 3 shows the final real world objects.

Convert from anything

We want the All Able method to work for any situation. We have tried to create tactile alternatives frome a wide range of starting points. Maps and floorplans, slides, pictures and graphs, even photos of other tactile maps out in the world, the All Able method produces great results quickly and easily from any original.

A side by side comparison of the original cathedral map and the 3D printed output

Convert from an existing map

Canterbury Cathedral has tactile map handouts. Scan one of these in, and we can convert to a full 3D map of the cathedral.

A side by side comparison of the original photo of the map in the Hong Kong tube station and the 3D printed copy

Convert from a photo

How about an angled photo of a tactile map in a Hong Kong tube station. Get it lined up and we can have our own copy.

A side by side comparison of the original osteoblast cell diagram from a slide deck and the 3D printed alternative with Braille labelling replacing the text labels.

Convert from slides

A more common experience, lets start with a complex diagram in slides or from a text book and add in Braille labelling.

Accessible labelling

Whether you want raised letter labelling, Braille, or both, text labelling can be easily incorporated into the 3D models and kept consistent for scale even at different heights across the same model.

Two 3D printed pie charts. Each slice is presented at a different height, with consistent Braille labels topping each. In the foreground is the associated Braille key for the pie chart labels.
3D rendering of a grass texture running alongside a stone texture pathway

Use a range of textures

Grassy areas, stone pathways and other textures, the All Able method gives plenty of options to add detail and create intuitive models that help enhance the experience for users, playing on the strengths of tactile formats.

Shape and texture is already being used to convey information in our tactile diagrams, but there are more opportunities to incorporate other tactile feelings when we start considering the use of other materials. Temperature of embedded metal elements, pliability of rubberised resins, there is a lot more that we plan to add to give us even more options to create even more useful tactile models.

Try it yourself

We have produced a range of tactile maps and diagrams and want to share these examples so you can download and print them yourselves.

If you try any of these examples out for yourselves please feel free to post about them on social media and tag us. We would love to see where our tactile diagrams end up.

See our full list of downloadable examples on our Tactile examples page.

Work with us

We are looking to partner with blind and partially sighted individuals, disability support teams and charities to further refine our tactile diagrams production to make sure they are as useful as possible.

If you are interested in working with us, email us at info@allable.co.uk.