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.
How it works
We start with your original graphic, tagging up the image to indicate what needs to be made 3D and adding in labelling.
The original graphic is then automatically converted to pop out a 3D model where all tactile parts have been turned into 3D components.
We finally print and mount the diagrams to provide a highly detailed tactile alternative.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.