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Incorporating Unique Tactile Graphic Software with Inkjet to Improve Tactile Map Design and Availability

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Significant improvements in the accuracy, repeatability, speed and cost of ink-jet over the last decade have led to rapid growth in areas in which the technology can be applied. The Tactile Inkjet Mapping Project (TIMP) printer, which uses ink-jet technology to create tactile maps and diagrams, has proved desirable due to its advantages over parallel alternative technologies in cost, printing time, digital connectivity and robustness of its output. However, the commercialization of such printer will only partly address the issue of availability of tactile maps for visually impaired users. Much of the effort and time taken to produce tactile maps is taken up by their design. Although design is highly intuitive and often personal, existing guidelines agree on many basic requirements; the number of symbols to be used on a single map, appropriate separation distances between objects, a need for clear simple maps and so on. This paper proposes stages by which a software solution might be developed, incorporating experimental outcomes and more speculative ideas, and involving GIS to generate automatic tactile output. Combined with the advantages of the TIMP printer, we hope that a software solution will ultimately improve tactile map design and lead to increased availability of tactile maps.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2005

More about this publication?
  • For more than 25 years, NIP has been the leading forum for discussion of advances and new directions in non-impact and digital printing technologies. A comprehensive, industry-wide conference, this meeting includes all aspects of the hardware, materials, software, images, and applications associated with digital printing systems, including drop-on-demand ink jet, wide format ink jet, desktop and continuous ink jet, toner-based electrophotographic printers, production digital printing systems, and thermal printing systems, as well as the engineering capability, optimization, and science involved in these fields.

    Since 2005, NIP has been held in conjunction with the Digital Fabrication Conference.

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