Esha’s tactile maps are special because you can use the same map for both kinds of disability – hearing and visual.
This post deserves to have a page to itself, and it will soon be on the resources center on the Esha website (www.braillecards.org).
How to make a tactile map
Base material: Canvas tied to a hard cardboard base makes the best base, because it is sturdy and has a long life.
Labels: The labels should be in Braille, and all the relevant languages. The font for the languages should be small, so that we can fit as many languages as possible. In India, that would be 3 languages at most places.
This section lists our understanding of the use of eco-friendly materials for most features that you are likely to meet in a location map. They are by way of suggestions. Feel free to use or not use.
Grassy areas – Green Velvette Paper. Green provides the visual connect and velvette paper provides the tactile connect.
Fence – matchsticks in the right pattern, depending on the distance between fence bars.
Stairs: Matchsticks again. the head shld be cut off before use.
Corridors: Lined with twine for corridors inside the building and with thicker twine for outdoors.
Walls: Please consult the blueprint and use thicker twine for thicker walls. This will give the user some idea of how thick the walls are.
Doors and Windows: Broomsticks. Broomsticks use a thinner wood, so matchsticks mean an even staircase and broomsticks mean doors and windows.
Stage: Sandpaper. In a classroom/conference room/theater, the stage needs to be marked out clearly. Sandpaper is the most distinguishable way of marking out this prominent part of the room. Sandpaper can also be used to mark the table in a room (e.g., the CEO’s room with a huge table that needs to be marked out clearly)
Rocky decoration: Typically found in gardens, pulses (esp red gram pulse) is the best way to represet semi circular rock decorations.
fountain: Blue velvet paper or blue decoration paper. This provides both the visual and the tactile input.
How to make a tactile map
1. Start with the blueprint of the building /facility. This should cover all outdoor areas as well, and to scale.
2. Find a canvas of the right size. The size should not be more than A3 if you can help it.
3. Mark out the doors, windows and stairs FIRST.
4. Create the biggest outlines with the thickest twine.
5. Create the smalelr outlines. ONLY create outlines for features that will be used by the visitor/user. e.g., if the DG set is closed with a stell mesh gate, make sure that the mesh gate is indicated, but the DG can just be labelled as DG.
6. Create the filling for floor surfaces that need to be filled. Some floor surfaces that need filling arre: Stage, Work area desks, BIG tables in conference rooms, CEO rooms etc.
7. Indicate prominent pieces of furniture that the user is likely to encounter. Also indicate fire fightint equipment because the blind walk against the wall and will be hurt by them if they are not marked. Any other things that are likely to hurt them on the wall must also be indicated.
8. Create labels – braille and the local languages. For the hearing disabled, please also create labels for high noise areas that they should avoid and zero noise areas where they should be careful.
9. Cover your map with a cling film and store. THen, when you have a visitor, Viola! Out comes the map – and your visitors will be so delighted! After each use, cover with cling film and store again.