Tactile maps or pre-recorded instructions can help people impacted by blindness find their way independently in complex buildings or groups of buildings. There are two main types of tactile maps: large-scale maps that provide information about the general layout, and small hand-held maps that give specific route information.
Maps that include a considerable amount of information sometimes incorporate one or more of the following design elements:
- A braille overlay that folds over and locks onto a map, giving details about facilities
- A brief braille commentary on the side of the map
- Separate spaces embossed on the map indicating different things (e.g., destinations, routes, spaces and rooms)
Tactile maps or pre-recorded instructions should be available at a building’s main entrance or reception area. They could also be sent to visitors upon request prior to their arrival.
Another strategy to assist people impacted by blindness better understand the layout of a facility is to make maps and route descriptions available on a company website. This allows individuals to print the map in advance and enhance the map’s accessibility as required (e.g., magnification and other screen-reading technologies). A route description should accompany any downloadable maps and the instructions should be formatted using the CNIB Foundation’s Clear Print guidelines. Maps can be downloaded in advance and used to navigate the building on site using a printout or a text-to-speech application on a smartphone.