Tactile Traffic Maps Could Help Blind Pedestrians Navigate

Scientific American

Tactile Traffic Maps Could Help Blind Pedestrians Navigate

The technology is currently being tested at a busy intersection in New York City

People in many cities risk their lives every time they cross the street. In New York City, pedestrian deaths accounted for the majority of yearly traffic fatalities continually since 2006, according to government data. For visually impaired people, the situation is uniquely dangerous and getting worse.

Over the past summer designers at Touch Graphics, a company that makes navigation technology that incorporates information from several senses, have been working with New York’s Department of Transportation to test tactile maps—diagrams with three-dimensional features and braille text—at a busy intersection near a resource center for blind people. The project is part of the city’s initiative to eliminate pedestrian traffic fatalities. If the trial is successful, these maps could be installed at all New York’s 13,000 traffic lights, according to Touch Graphics president Steven Landau.

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