InTouch Graphics Tactile Maps
Our tactile maps include simultaneous low vision and tactile features, offering a cutting-edge illustration of "universal design" in practice. Any individual, whether they have 20/20 vision, low vision, or no vision, can access and benefit from these maps. Our maps can also be designed to include information for individuals who are mobility impaired, allowing users to identify and plan wheelchair accessible routes.
We believe our maps are of the highest quality available, and we deliver them in both permanent (installation) and portable formats for all of our projects. The installation maps are intended for indoor or outdoor placement in prominent locations of a campus or institution, while the portable maps can be conveniently brought home and studied more comfortably and carefully.
Permanent Installation Maps
Our permanent installation maps are usually etched in magnesium, but can also be produced in bronze or other materials. They have a high contrast enamel paint and include color features.
Both permanent display and portable maps are labeled in Braille, utilize an easy-to-read tactile-visual symbol system, and have simultaneous large print high-contrast displays. They also come with a legend and directory of locations, and can be designed with an X/Y coordinate system for quick tactile navigation.
Our portable tactile maps are designed in swellpaper (encapsulated plastic) and intended for distribution to users/consumers at schools, universities, museums, etc., as needed. They can be as small as 11" X 17", but are more often designed in a larger, collapsible format that allows a comfortable representation of an area, and convenient transport.
One important benefit of a portable tactile map is that it allows the user to learn and become familiar with the tactile symbols at their own pace and in the comfort of their own home. If a tactile map project has “only” an installation or kiosk component, the opportunities for a blind traveler to realistically learn and benefit from the map are significantly reduced.
As educators, we understand the importance of having a portable component to a map, as well as the limitations in providing “only” an installation component on a campus. Most blind adults have had very limited exposure to tactile maps, and most schools for the blind provide little, if any, training in their use. Although it is beyond the scope of this website to address the reasons for this in the field of blindness education, the point to be emphasized here is that a blind map reader needs time to become familiar with and retain the various tactile symbols of a map. This is best facilitated by providing a map and key that can be used at home.
For Mobility Departments at Schools and Agencies for the Blind
InTouch Graphics offers to design and produce tactile maps for mobility departments at residential and non-residential schools for the blind, agencies for the blind, and any other centers serving blind or deafblind individuals. We can custom-design portable tactile maps in simple-to-complex formats, facilitating important instruction in mapping concepts and spatial orientation along a range of levels, from beginner to advanced. Mobility instructors at these sites will then have the opportunity to use professionally designed tactile maps for both on-campus and off-campus training.
Unfortunately, most blind adults have had very little previous experience using tactile maps, and simply because these maps have been largely unavailable throughout their school years. Many of the most prominent schools for the blind in the world still do not have tactile maps of their campuses, and tactile map training is either absent entirely or a very weak part of the Orientation and Mobility curriculum.