Tactile Maps, Modern and Historical

Two items on maps for the blind and visually impaired—a subject I find terribly interesting:

Greg Miller of National Geographic’s All Over the Map reports on a new tactile atlas of Switzerland, which “is printed with special ink that expands when heated to create tiny bumps and ridges on the page.” I can’t find a direct link to said atlas, but Greg interviews Esri cartographer Anna Vetter, who led the project.

Tactile maps have been around for a long time: Atlas Obscura looks at tactile maps—and even a tactile globe!—dating back to the early 1800s. Many of these maps are in the archives of the Perkins School for the Blind. The Perkins School has a Flickr album of these maps.

Mapping Swiss Mortality

Earlier this year, a study in the Swiss Medical Weekly explored the spatial patterns of Swiss mortality rates between 2008 and 2012. The study looked at the most common causes of death and produced a number of maps. The Tages Anzeiger’s story on the study (in German) focused on only two of them—diabetes and liver disease—that produced the most dramatic regional variations: basically, people in German-speaking regions are more likely to die of diabetes, and people in French-speaking regions are more likely to die of liver disease. The newspaper’s interactive maps are nicer, too:

Maps of mortality due to diabetes (top) and liver disease (bottom) in Switzerland. Tages Anzeiger, 6 March 2016.
Maps of mortality due to diabetes (top) and liver disease (bottom) in Switzerland. Tages Anzeiger, 6 March 2016.

[Maps Mania]

Eduard Imhof Profile

A profile of Swiss cartographer Eduard Imhof, famous for his work on relief mapping, from a 1983 Swiss TV program. Captioned in English if you can’t understand Swiss German for some reason. (Thanks to Henrik Johansson for the link.)

More on Imhof at Relief Shading, Terrain Models and Wikipedia.

Previously: Imhof’s Cartographic Relief PresentationCodex 99 on Berann, Imhof and Everest.

New National Maps of Switzerland


Switzerland is updating its official map series. The new maps are digitally based and use new fonts, symbols and colours—railways, for example, are now in red. They replace the 1:25,000 series that dates back to the 1950s; all 247 sheets should be replaced by 2019. You can compare the old and new map designs on this interactive map (screencap above). [via]

Around Switzerland in 80 Maps

The Local profilesaround-switzerland-80-maps Lausanne-based game and book company Helvetiq, which last year published Diccon Bewes’s Around Switzerland in 80 Maps. Those maps range, according to the publisher, “from the circular island map of 1480 to the birth of modern Swiss cartography; from the British rail plan for Switzerland to a Soviet map of Basel during the Cold War; from the 1970s Zurich map for men to the vision of a Greater Switzerland with 40 cantons.” Buy at Amazon. [via]

Mapping Swiss German Dialects


Researchers are mapping the shift in Swiss German dialect usage via an iOS app. The app asks users to take a 16-question survey based on maps from a language atlas that mapped Swiss German usage circa 1950. The app predicts the user’s actual home dialect location based on those maps; differences between that prediction and the user’s actual home dialect location reveal how Swiss German has changed over time. They ended up getting responses from 60,000 speakers. PLOS ONE article. [via]