Tactile map

TacMap Logo

TacMap” has been developed over the last 3 years by Patricia Dieng and Professor Paul Chamberlain of the Art and Design Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University in collaboration with Zychem Ltd. and the Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind. TacMaphas now been spun out as a separate company owned and managed by Patricia. You can visit their website www.tacpmap.co.uk.

TacMap is a novel and simple solution that produces tactile maps to enable blind and partially sighted people to navigate their way around indoor spaces supporting their independence and enriching everyday life.

TacMap helps the visually impaired to acquire information about how a building, an individual floor or a room is laid out before visiting. TacMap can represent a wide range of buildings and venues such as hotels, museums, theatres, universities, schools, bus and train stations, transport hubs sports and leisure complexes or places where they work.

The tactile language developed by the researchers comprises of a palette of symbols and textures representing entrances, exits, fire exits, directions of door openings, receptions/information points, toilets, stairs, access ramps, and evacuation points. Most of this information is usually acquired by an individual asking the help of a sighted person. Many current visual signs and symbols cannot be interpreted clearly through touch and the research team have developed with blind users new symbols to add to the icon based language.

software used to build tactile plans

Our graphical software makes it possible to produce accessible information for visually impaired people at a reasonable cost. Once created on screen, the maps are then produced on reactive paper. After printing, the paper is then heat processed to produce the tactile surface. TacMap™ is an easy but unique system that produces effective and intelligible tactile maps. Public buildings now have the opportunity to be equipped with and to offer their blind visitors, guests or clients effective, useful and detailed maps to support their visit and at the same time satisfy the duties under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).

tactile navigation map in use

The project has been funded by the strategic investment fund from Sheffield Hallam University for the first 18 months of development and we are now in the process of undertaking further research and development in response to the positive outcomes to the project.

Project updates

Lab4Living, Sheffield Hallam University,
Furnival Building, 153 Arundel Street, Sheffield, S1 2NU
Phone 0114 225 6753 | Fax 0114 225 6931