Tailoring Tactile Maps Based on Blind Users’ Needs
Keywords: inclusiveness, tactile mapping, topography, products on demand, user participatory design
Abstract. The Sustainable Development Goals aim to "leave no one behind," including visually impaired individuals who should have equal access to information. However, the production of tactile maps for the visually impaired has been inhibited by factors such as a lack of data and technology, cartographical challenges, and high production costs. To address this issue, two research projects developed prototype tactile maps for visually impaired users and evaluated their usability through a focus group discussion and hands-on experience. In the first project, the maps were appreciated for their continuous style, thematic versatility, and proportional information density. Suggestions for improvement included the addition of a clear map title, an overview map, a mandatory legend, and distinguishable icons. Tactile maps were seen as supplementary to mobile navigation by providing a geographical overview, information about locations of interest, creating and correcting cognitive pictures of the living environment, and sharpening geographical and common knowledge. The second project focused on refining the results in multiple iterations, and for this purpose a multidisciplinary consortium was formed that, in collaboration with a test panel of visually impaired users, contributed to the aim of making tactile topography on-demand, fit-for-purpose and globally available.