Accessible Maps Using Electronically Enhanced 3D Printing

  • 3D printed map of Monash University's Caulfield campus

Accessible Maps Using Electronically Enhanced 3D Printing

How can 3D printing and low-cost computing help the vision impaired see the world? This project uses 3D printing augmented with Raspberry Pis and electronics to create multi-sensory accessible maps.

Project Members

Matthew Butler
Kim Marriott
Cagatay Goncu
Leona Holloway

Category

Accessibility

Aiding mobility is crucial for people with vision-impairments. Mobility is often supported by guides who will help familiarise them with an environment, or by the presence of assistance such as a guide dog. Unfortunately, the provision of accessible maps to support this is limited at best.

3D printing has become a viable option for use in the creation of accessible graphics. Reasonably static graphics, such as maps, prove to be ideal candidates for the use of 3D printing in the development of accessible graphics. When used with maps, 3D printing can help build mental models of the layout of a space. Maps, however, often contain much more information than can be easily conveyed by the 3D print itself. Braille labels for example require such considerable space for ease of reading that they are not able to convey much information. 3D prints also may not be able to easily convey information about the insides of buildings.

To address this, 3D prints have been augmented with simple touch sensors and computing technology such as the Arduino and Raspberry Pi to enable touch-triggered audio feedback. This feedback can be static, such as providing basic building information, or dynamic, detailing time-dependent information. The inclusion of touch sensors can also facilitate other actions such as way finding. Initial testing suggests that this approach may be crucial in helping the vision-impaired community orient themselves with a space and gain both spatial awareness and key location-based information.

Outcomes from this project will not only aid in the development and wider distribution of accessible maps, but may also be incorporated into the creation of accessible versions of other types of important graphics.

Tags:
3D printing accessible graphics electronics Raspberry Pi