Touch-responsive maps bring interactive wayfinding to a new level, providing independence to users with vision loss

Perkins School's multisensory model (Credit: University at Buffalo IDeA Center )


Sighted and users with varying types of vision loss benefit from the Perkins School's multisensory model, which offers audio, tactile and visual cues for inclusive interaction (Credit: University at Buffalo IDeA Center) 

As identified in a recent article by Charlotte Hsu, University at Buffalo (Director of News Content, Architecture and Regional Planning, Sciences): 

"These maps are made for talking. And touching. And they’re beautiful, too. In partnership with Touch Graphics Inc., developers at the University at Buffalo’s Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA Center) have built and tested a new kind of interactive wayfinder: 3-D maps that vocalize building information and directions when touched.

"The technology is designed with an important mission in mind: to help visually impaired visitors navigate public spaces like museums and college campuses."

“It’s really about giving this audience, this population, a way to understand their environment,” says IDeA Center researcher Heamchand Subryan, who led the project with IDeA Center Director Edward Steinfeld, ArchD, and Touch Graphics President Steve Landau. “We’re providing a level of information that allows them to navigate their environment easily, without help, which gives them a sense of independence.”

"The latest installation, at Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts, uses conductive paint on miniature buildings to sense pressure from a visitor’s fingers."