The S3C Lab runs a program, DuckMaps, that provides free tactile maps to individuals, schools, and non-profit organizations. We currently produce maps via 3D printer and tactile image enhancer. If you want to learn more about the program or you would like us to product tactile map(s) for you or your organization, please complete this DuckMaps Contact form.
Tactile Map Symbol Set
Anyone who has used one or more topographic maps produced by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) understands the importance of standardization in symbology; throughout thousands of maps, the symbolization remains consistent, allowing the map user to concentrate on learning the geography, rather than the symbology. Also, even though road maps do not maintain the same rigid symbolization standards, conventions allow most people to relatively quickly and easily interpret the symbols (i.e. blue=water, black line=road…). But, such standardization (either rigid or convention) does not exist for tactile navigation maps. In this project, we have created a set of general use tactile symbols.
We have developed a set of environmental objects most in need of symbolization on tactile navigation maps; compiling the potential symbology by associating existing discriminable symbols with the environmental objects to be symbolized.
Tactile Thematic Map Sets and Lesson Plans
A thematic map is a map designed to show the geographic location and distribution of a particular theme such as population. Thematic maps are prevalent in the media, showing distributions of income, education, and political affiliation usually utilizing a color coordinated system (such as a ramp of color from light to dark) to show how a particular theme is distributed. Unfortunately, traditional thematic symbols and printed maps do not work for people who are blind or low vision.
The tactile thematic maps designed for download on this website use a set of empirically designed and tested thematic tactile symbols. The tactile thematic symbols are composed of a series of dots that are legible and discriminable to replace traditional ramps of color implemented on visual maps. Much like a color scale works with visual thematic maps, where darker colors usually represent more of some phenomenon, and lighter colors less, counties with many dots have a higher value or more of the particular variable than those with fewer or no dots. While the density of the dots is used to distinguish relative amounts of something in a county, it is important to note that each individual dot does not actually represent a specific value. The dot patterns represent a range in values; that one county has, for example, more or less population than another, not that a county has a certain number of people. These maps can also be used for more than just discovering the distributions of themes, as they can be used in conjunction with other maps. You could put an income map next to an education map and be able to tell the relationship between the two variables.
In addition to the free maps, we have also created several lesson plans that utilize these maps to teach geographic concepts to students who are blind or low vision. These lesson plans can be used to teach how things are organized in space (such as the distribution of population in Kansas), or, by utilizing several maps in combination, the relationships between several variables (how patterns of college graduates relates to patterns of income).
See a Table of Contents of Tactile Thematic Map Sets. These maps were designed for 11″ by 17″ and can be printed using any method you choose.