Touch Graphics, Inc. has created a system for creating on-the-fly talking tactile neighborhood maps for use in Orientation and Mobility training. A user will visit the TMAP website, hosted by Smith Kettelwell Eye Research Institute, and enter any address or street intersection in the United States. They will be sent the map as a computer file that can be output to a Braille embosser. Once the map has been embossed, they will place it on a Talking Tactile Tablet (TTT), and then explore the map by touching it. When they press down on any street shown on the map, they will hear the name of the street and other information, such as the addresses of building on a particular block, direction of traffic, and so on. Important landmarks, like parks, rivers and public buildings, will also be shown.

This work was carried out in collaboration with the Smith Kettelwell, creators of the TMAP site, and the Helen Keller National Center in Sands Point, New York. Preliminary findings will be shared at the CSUN conference in Los Angeles in March, 2006. The work has been funded by a Phase 1 SBIR grant from the National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research, United States Department of Education.

TMAP in the news!

The Talking Tactile Tablet and the TMAP system were featured in a segment on the CBS Evening News on Saturday, June 17. In the clip a deaf-blind man was shown exploring a talking neighborhood map that was made with the TMAP system that was developed by scientists at Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute. He read the names of streets that he touched on a refreshable Braille display. To view the video, click here.

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A photo of a TMAP user exploring a map.
A photo of a TMAP user
An illustrated TMAP map showing the target, streets, compass, scale bar and TTT controls.
An illustrated TMAP map