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Tactile Map Automated Production (TMAP)

Using GIS Data to Automatically Generate Raised-Line Street Maps

Image of TMAP

Project Description

Smith-Kettlewell's Tactile Map Automated Production (TMAP) Project was initiated in 2003 by Dr. Joshua A. Miele with the goal of developing the first web-based software tool for rapid production of highly specific, tactile street maps of any location in the USA. Before TMAP, tactile maps were difficult and expensive to obtain or produce, and tactile street maps for any specific town or city were almost unheard of. TMAP brings together existing geographical information system (GIS) resources with currently available computer-controlled embossing technologies to yield a revolutionary tool with significant implications for education, orientation, and mobility of blind and visually impaired travelers.

"What if you don't have your own Braille embosser?"

Users without their own embossers may still be able to obtain maps through an exciting new partnership with the San Francisco Lighthouse. The SF Lighthouse is beginning a program to produce tactile street maps on request and mail the hard-copy maps to the user. For more information on this exciting new service, email the San Francisco Lighthouse at or by phone (415) 694-7363.

Audio/Tactile TMAP

One of the most exciting recent innovations in tactile maps is the increasing availability of audio/tactile hardware and software. This technology enables a person to touch a tactile map or graphic and hear specific audio information associated with the location being touched. In 2005, Dr. Miele began a fruitful collaboration with Touch Graphics, Inc. - manufacturers of the Talking Tactile Tablet (TTT) - to have TMAP automatically produce audio-enabled tactile street maps. This work was funded under a Small-Business Innovation Research grant from the Department of Education. Order a custom made, talking TMAP from Touch Graphics here. TMAP is also able to produce scalable vector graphics (SVG) street maps for use with other audio/tactile technologies such as IVEO from View Plus Technologies, Inc.

Obtaining Maps From TMAP

TMAP users who have their own Braille embossers (Braille printers) can use a web interface to specify the location and size of the desired tactile map. The map file and related key information are generated and downloaded immediately. The tactile map can then be "printed out" on the user's own Braille embosser. Tactile maps can be produced on any graphics-capable Braille embosser, including those manufactured by View Plus, Enabling Technologies, and Index. To register for the TMAP website, or to be added to our mailing list, please fill out the form below.