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A Book on Creation of Geographical Maps for Visually Impaired People Published for the First Time in Russia

Today, maps and geo-images are a routine information source for millions of mobile phone owners and PC users, and eyesight is the main tool for learning about the surrounding reality and for transmitting information. However, many data, including spatial, are beyond the reach of visually impaired and blind people. How can those who can not see overcome information barriers? How to help a visually impaired person find a way to school or work, navigate in the everyday living environment? Andrey Medvedev, a participant of the “Special View” program aimed at the support of visually impaired people which is implemented by Alisher Usmanov’s “Art, Science and Sport” Charity Foundation, talked about the creation of tactile maps and ways for modern cartography to help those visually impaired get an idea about the surrounding environment and navigate it.

“A person deprived of vision has no choice but to perceive the world through tactile, auditory, and olfactory senses. The same senses can be successfully used to navigate in space. It is difficult to perceive spatial information adequately without a visual sensory system, but it is possible. For this purpose, we create special tactile maps in the cartography laboratory of the Institute of Geography of the Russian Academy of Sciences,” Andrey Medvedev told. “The ability to read and understand a tactile map is not gained automatically. A blind or visually impaired person should be trained to recognize and understand embossed material, symbols in the form of points and lines, use the texture and the legend of the map, revealing the information represented on it.”

Ksenia Dmitrieva, head of the “Special View” program told, “As part of our program, we support various innovative and technological developments. The book by A. Medvedev on the creation of tactile and typhlographic maps will serve as a clear instruction for developing an accessible environment in educational institutions. It is important to fill the existing blanks in the education of blind and visually impaired people for helping them in the educational and developing process.”

The book describes the basic principles and methods of creating tactile maps and has a lot of illustrations showing examples of tactile and typhlographic maps from around the world. The author addresses the latest achievements in this area, so that the readers of this manual could create tactile and typhlographic maps by themselves in the future. The methodological recommendations presented in the book are based on best global practices developed by specialized agencies, the author’s own developments and on the work of the cartography laboratory of the Institute of Geography of the Russian Academy of Sciences.