The Bodleian Map Room Blog (no relation) has a nice look at some tactile maps for the visually impaired, with some interesting 20th-century examples of the form, such as 3D relief maps, a globe, and braille maps.
A rare Braille globe held by the Queensland State Library is being digitized so as to create a 3D-printed replica. The globe, invented by Richard Frank Tunley in the 1950s, is one of the last copies still in existence and is in poor physical shape—problematic for something designed to be touched. That’s where the replica comes in. It’s funded by the library foundation’s crowdfunding initiative, which will also help fund the original globe’s restoration. ABC News, Sydney Morning Herald. Media release. [ANZMapS]
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.
Maps and drawings are created by hand in an aluminum foil sheet. The metal is embossed with a variety of tools to produce raised lines and areas of varying height, texture and width. The maps are labelled with key letters that are identified on the pages preceding each map. The master drawing is duplicated by the Thermoform process to make clear, sharp copies. The 11×11½-inch plastic sheets are bound into volumes with cardboard covers and spiral plastic binders.
L. R. Klemm’s Relief Practice Map: Roman Empire (above) is an example of the printed tactile maps used to teach sighted and blind students alike during the nineteenth century. [via]
Most of the maps for blind and visually impaired users I’ve encountered to date are of modern provenance. Previously on The Map Room: Joshua Miele’s Tactile Maps; A View of Prague for the Blind; Virtual 3D Maps for the Blind; Maps for the Visually Impaired; Maps and Directions for the Blind; Online Maps for the Visually Impaired.