Talking tactile maps as orientation tools for visually impaired: Local areas under your fingers

If you are visually impaired and wonder how it really looks in the area where you live, or want to know more about a place you go to everyday, then the project "Under your fingers", recently started by MediaLT, can make these places more accessible to you.

Story by: - 11.01.2011

In collaboration with the Norwegian Association for the Blind, MediaLT ran a project to develop a Norwegian tactile world atlas in January 2005 to December 2006 (H & R, project number 2004/3/0275). The maps are tactile, and are placed on a specially designed tablet, the Talking Tactile Tablet (TTT), which connects to a PC. Press your finger on a city, and the PC will tell you the name of the city. You can find the distance between two points on the map, and have other relevant information read out that has been put into the system.

The main advantage is that maps can be far more comprehensive and detailed than traditional tactile maps. So this solution has the potential to develop maps that can be used as orientation aids for the visually impaired. More information about the world tactile atlas can be found here:

The tactile world atlas has been a great success! MediaLT has distributed the atlas, and feedback has shown that the speaking tactile map solution is very suitable for visually impaired. The solution provides access to information that is otherwise completely inaccessible. Detailed maps of the local vicinity will enhance the ability of the visually impaired to orietate themselves and so aid their participation in the community.

The project will run as a collaboration between MediaLT and The Norwegian Association for the Blind. The design of the maps will be based on information from visually impaired users. The aim of the project is to find out how such maps of local areas can be designed practically, and how these maps in the long term can be made available as a service for the visually impaired.

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