Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Friday, April 01, 2016

Touch Mapper: Create a Tactile Map of any Outdoor Area

Touch Mapper,, is a service where anyone can create a tactile map automatically of any outdoor area. A typical map, 17 cm (6.7 inches) across, costs 35 euros (about 40 dollars though prices are subject to change). If you happen to have access to a 3D printer, you can print the map yourself, free of charge.


The maps include roads, buildings, railways and water areas. Roads of all sizes are included. Since pedestrian roads are often the most essential ones to label, they are elevated tactually more than other roads shown on the map. This feature allows blind people more easily to locate or determine a route that they intend to navigate on foot.


You can choose between different scales and map sizes. Roads can be printed in a different color than the rest of the map if desired.


The website is quite accessible with screen readers. The area that you wish to map out is selected by entering a street address into the edit box, and a tactile marker is placed on the map in that location. The north-east corner of the map is raised so you know which way to hold the map. 

Map data comes from OpenStreetMap, an open source map that anyone can edit, like Wikipedia.


Because the price point for these maps is much lower than the typical price point for traditional tactile maps, Touch Mapper makes it possible for the first time to get a tactile map for areas important to you; getting a map of your own neighborhood is a good example for a likely scenario for utilizing the service.

For more information, visit or email

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