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3-D Talking Map

December 9, 2014

3-D talking maps use a variety of sensory modalities to help people find their way around college campuses and other institutions.




Touching the miniature buildings on the map activates auditory information and directions. (University of Buffalo)

Making maps more accessible. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Most “You Are Here” style maps common at college campuses and other institutions are all-but-useless to the visually impaired. Now, researchers at the University of Buffalo’s Center for Inclusive Design have teamed up with a company called Touch Graphics to create multisensory, 3-D talking maps to help everyone find their way around. Center director Edward Steinfeld explains.

EDWARD STEINFELD (Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access, SUNY Buffalo):

mutlisensory information is more effective than providing information in just one modality, and altogether you get a better sense of where you are.


For instance, visitors to the Perkins School for the Blind can get directions by touching miniature buildings with their fingertips.

SFX: Tower bell: “Howe building: Exit the campus side door and turn left, at the end of the sidewalk turn left and walk slightly uphill to the third intersecting sidewalk on the right…”


The team hopes to install similar maps in large museums in the near future. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.