The Princeton Braillists: Creators of Tactile Maps for the Blind

I'm going to let you in on a well kept secret. Have you ever wanted a map of your state? Maybe you're studying The Bible and want a map of the area as it existed in that time. I have a great resource for you.

The Princeton Braillists is a small group of senior citizen volunteers whose goal is to make high quality but inexpensive tactile maps and drawings for blind people of all ages.

Nancy Amick and Ruth Bogia, working as the Princeton Braillists, have been producing tactile maps for about 8 years. Before that, they were active for many years in making tactile drawings for textbooks being recorded by Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic. Nancy began making drawings about 40 years ago and was a pioneer in developing the metal foil technique introduced by Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic in 1964. Ruth, a former studio director of the New Jersey Unit of RFB&D and a certified Braillist, joined Nancy in making drawings about 25 years ago. She continues to braille books for the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Fran Gasman joined the group in 2005 and recently became a certified Braillist, also brailling for the New Jersey Commission. Phyllis Branin finishes the books by punching and binding the volumes. Nancy's husband, James Amick, helps with the computer and secretarial chores.

The maps and drawings are created by hand in metal foil, then duplicated by the Thermoform process to make clear, sharp copies. The 11x11-1/2 inch plastic sheets are bound into volumes with cardboard covers and a spiral plastic binder.

Generally, key letters are used to label cities and areas on the maps. These key letters are identified on key pages preceding each map. The maps sometimes have foldout sections and or appear on facing pages.

The maps are detailed, and some experience with tactile drawings is recommended. Maps available include:

  • MAPS OF THE STATE OF HAWAII: includes detailed maps of the eight major islands. Each island has introductory information followed by one or more key pages and a full-page map. A general view of the city of Honolulu and of Pearl Harbor are included in the maps of the island of Oahu. 10 maps with keys, 55 pages.

  • OUTLINE MAPS OF THE WORLD in one volume. Contains 33 maps showing political boundaries, capital cities, and surrounding bodies of water. The maps are divided into 5 sections: North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia, Africa, and Polar Regions. An index at the end of the volume lists countries and islands, and indicates the page number of the map on which they appear. 33 maps, 79 pages.

  • ATLAS OF NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA: three units in four volumes. Emphasis is on geography. Maps show boundaries, mountains, rivers and bodies of water, elevation, major cities only, climate, land use and resources. Each unit is self-contained and can be used alone.
    Unit 1. NORTHERN NORTH AMERICA: Canada and U.S. 59 pages
    Unit 2. THE UNITED STATES: (2 volumes) divides the country into 6 regions; maps are shown by region. 124 pages
    Unit 3. MIDDLE AND SOUTH AMERICA: 51 pages

  • MAPS OF THE BRITISH ISLES: covers England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland. Overall maps show boundaries, bodies of water, mountains and hills. Maps of each country show cities, towns, major rivers, and counties or regions. Places of interest in the Greater London area and an overall map of London are also included. 11 maps with keys, 46 pages total.

  • ATLAS OF WESTERN EUROPE: two volume set covering 21 countries and their nearby territories. A page of facts and a detailed full-page map is included for each country. The maps show cities and physical features and are labeled with extensive keys. The British Isles (covered in a separate volume - see above) is not included.
    Vol. I: Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Andorra, Monaco, Luxembourg; 23 maps 72 pages
    Vol. II: Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Greece, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Malta; 13 maps, 48 pages

  • ATLAS OF EASTERN EUROPE: covers in one volume Poland, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Yugoslavia, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Western Russia up to the Ural Mountains. The format is the same as described above for Atlas of Western Europe. 21 maps, 80 pages total.

  • ATLAS OF THE MIDDLE EAST: covers 17 countries including Bahrain, Crete, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine National Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. The format is the same as described above for Atlas of Western Europe. 25 maps with keys, 69 pages total.

  • ATLAS OF CENTRAL AND SOUTH ASIA: covers 13 countries and Kashmir. Countries include Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan , Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. The format is the same as described above for Atlas of Western Europe. 19 maps, 72 pages.

  • ATLAS OF EAST ASIA: covers China, Mongolia, Japan, North and South Korea. The format is the same as described above for Atlas of Western Europe. 26 maps, 106 pages.

  • ATLAS OF SOUTHEAST ASIA: covers in one volume Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar (formerly Burma), Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Timor-Leste and the Philippines. The format is the same as described above for Atlas of Western Europe. 23 maps with keys, 83 pages total.

  • MAPS OF RUSSIA AND ITS FORMER REPUBLICS: shows boundaries, rivers, and major cities as of 1997. 6 maps, 16 pages $4.00. For more detailed maps of western Russia and some of the Republics see the Atlas of Eastern Europe and the Atlas of Central and South Asia listed above. MAPS OF MOROCCO: 7 maps with keys, 19 pages total.

  • MAPS OF THE BIBLE LANDS - OLD TESTAMENT: for serious students of the Bible or ancient history. No text; highly detailed; extensive keys. Covers Ancient World, Abraham, Exodus, Kingdoms of Saul, David, Solomon, Israel and Judah, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Alexander, Seleucids, and Maccabees. 25 maps, 98 pages.

  • MAPS OF INDIVIDUAL U.S. STATES: Each of the booklets below contains introductory information and detailed maps showing major cities, rivers and lakes, major highways, physical features, county boundaries, agricultural and mineral resources.
    MAINE: 11 maps with keys, 27 pages total
    NEW HAMPSHIRE: 11 maps with keys, 29 pages total
    VERMONT: 9 maps with keys, 18 pages total
    MASSACHUSETTS: 15 maps with keys, 48 pages total; includes information about and overall maps of Boston
    CONNECTICUT AND RHODE ISLAND: 13 maps with keys, 38 pages
    NEW YORK STATE: 14 maps with keys, 44 pages total, also includes information and overall maps of New York City
    NEW JERSEY: 17 maps with keys, 46 pages total; including overall maps of metopolitan areas around Newark and Camden
    PENNSYLVANIA: 12 maps with keys, 34 pages total, also includes information and overall maps of Philadelphia.
    FLORIDA: 12 maps with keys, 34 pages total including maps of Orlando/Lakeland, Tampa/Sarasota, Fort Myers/Naples, and Miami/Fort Lauderdale areas.
    ILLINOIS: 13 maps with keys, 46 pages total, including overall maps of Chicago and vicinity

  • CALIFORNIA: includes detailed maps showing location of major cities, rivers and lakes, mountains, highways, parks and counties. Subsequent maps show Northern, Central, and Southern California, San Francisco, Yosemite, Los Angeles area and San Diego. About 275 cities are included and indexed. 19 maps with keys, 84 pages total.

They also have maps of the human body:

BASIC HUMAN ANATOMY: cross-sections of the head and brain, nose-mouth-throat, tooth, respiratory tract, heart, digestive system, villus, urinary tract, kidney, nephron, nerve cell, eye, ear, skin, male and female reproductive systems, and fetus in the womb. 18 drawings with keys, 31 pages.

Now, here's the best secret yet. You won't believe their prices. Because they are volunteers, all you pay for is the material to put these wonderful works of art together. Click this link to visit their website for pricing information.

Send check or purchase order to:

Phone: Ruth Bogia 215-357-7715
Phone: Nancy Amick 609-924-5207

Credit card and Fax service are not available. Shipping is by free mail for the blind where eligible. Please allow 4 to 6 weeks for delivery.


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