5th Issue, June 2017

ATMAPS - Specification of symbols used on audio-tactile maps for individuals with blindness

Newsletter No. 5

ATMAPS - final year

Welcome to the fifth Newsletter of the ATMAPS project. In this newsletter, we would like to inform you about the final phase of our project "Specification of symbols used on audio-tactile maps for individuals with blindness (ATMAPS)". It has been over three years now the projects have been going on. In this issue of our newsletters, we provide information about what we have accomplished in the last phase of the project implementation period.

Highlights of progress in our Project

5th progress meeting in Linz, Austria

The 5th progress meeting was held in Linz, Austria during the preconference sessions of the 15th International Conference on Helping People with Special Needs - ICCHP 2016, in July 2016. During the meeting the structure of the training activities was discussed and in particular the "Train the trainer" event as well as the upcoming E-Learning session and further actions that need to be implemented.

5 project members are sitting in a conference room around a table
Figure 1: Project members of the ATMAPS consortium at the fifth progress meeting in Linz, Austria.

Workshop about Developing and Using Effective Symbols for Audio Tactile Maps - in Linz

A workshop about the ATMAPS project titled "Developing and Using Effective Symbols for Audio Tactile Maps - ATMAPS" was organized as a pre-conference event at the International Conference on Helping People with Special Needs in Linz (ICCHP 2016). The aim of the workshop was to disseminate the recent results of the collaborative efforts under the ATMAPS project towards the specification of symbols used in Audio-Tactile Maps.

The workshop was open and the target groups were individuals with visual impairment, teachers of Individuals with visual impairment, assistive technologies specialists, rehabilitation specialists, Orientation and Mobility specialists, designers of Orientation and Mobility aids and people who are working on accessibility issues from all over Europe or other countries participating in the ICCHP conference.

During the workshop first, the motivation and the aims of the ATMAPS project were presented and then the participants tested several audio-tactile maps using the Touchpad devices.

Figure on the lefthand side: 7 articipants are testing several audio-tactile maps using 3 IVEO device, during the Workshop in Linz. Figure on the righthand side: A project member of the ATMAPS consortium presents to the audience the motivation and the aims of the project.
Figure 2: Participants tested several audio-tactile maps on the IVEO, during the Workshop in Linz.

Presentations of published papers at the ICCHP 2016

A bigger audience was reached during three presentations of scientific papers given at the ICCHP conference sessions, on the results of the ATMAPS studies. The presentations were given by the project members to an audience of individuals with visual impairment, teachers of individuals with visual impairment, Assistive Technologies specialists, rehabilitation specialists, Orientation and Mobility specialists and designers of Orientation and Mobility aids.

A presenter gives his talk about the results of the ATMAPS studies in front of the public.
Figure 3: Photo during one of the presentations at the ICCHP 2016.

The three papers presented during the ICCHP conference sessions are:

6th progress meeting in Nicosia, Cyprus

The last progress meeting of the project took place in March 2017 in Nicosia, Cyprus. GeoImaging Ltd was the host of the meeting. The project partners had the opportunity to do further planning regarding the training activities and set the dates for the end users training sessions. The date for the "Train the Trainers" session was set to 23-24 May 2017 and the e-learning session was set to 21st of June 2017. The first version of the web-based library was presented by KIT and some samples of the audio tactile Atlas of Europe were presented by UOM and the project coordinator.

Web-based library

During the last months, the multilingual web-based library for the audio-tactile symbols was designed.

The tables of the library contain the following final results of the analysis of all conducted studies:

  1. ATMAPS overall evaluated Audio-Tactile Symbols and
  2. ATMAPS best perceived Tactile Symbols.

The first table shows the specification of the audio-tactile symbols for each type of map (AT-maps of indoors, neighborhood/residential area, campus, city center, political, physical, historical, and thematic AT maps) resulted after a process of grouping the information and linking the results of the conducted research on the information derived from the user requirements phase to the symbols ranked based on their readability/ease of identification.

In practice, the most readable symbols (ease of identification) are associated to information that participants consider to be the most significant and are most often met in their everyday surroundings (real world)

The second table is a list of best perceived tactile symbols sorted from best to worst symbol (with symbol ranked with 1 being the best symbol).

The list of symbols that are sorted based on their readability/ ease of identification (100 point, 40 linear and 20 areal) was derived based on a survey study which was conducted with the participation of blind individuals from the four project partner countries (Greece, Cyprus, Germany and Turkey). The order of symbols occurred after analysis and taking into account: 1) the identification or not of each symbol, 2) the time for identification, and 3) the number of times a symbol was confused with another one.

The creator of tactile or audio-tactile orientation and mobility aids can use the web-based library of audio-tactile symbols by selecting each time the most appropriate one (most readable), according to the purpose of the aid (mobility, orientation, education, information etc.) as well as the amount of information he wants to depict on the map (represented by tactile symbols) in order to create the aid he desires.

In this case, for the selection of the most suitable symbols, besides the research based classification of the symbols provided by the present library of symbols, one could consider his own experience on the design of aids for people with blindness, since in most cases tactile or audio-tactile aids do not require so much information to be depicted.

In addition, selecting the map scale is a factor that affects the choice of symbols.

The audio-tactile symbols are freely available but can be downloaded only by registered persons. Users can register at the ATMAPS projects website www.atmaps.eu and can download for free the material from the respective link "AT-symbol specification"

E-Learning Seminar

On Wednesday 21st of June there will be an e-learning session organized by KIT. The e-learning seminar will be divided into two sessions: from 10:00-12:00 (MET) and from 14:00-16:00 (MET). Please be aware of the time difference for people from Eastern countries.

Target groups of the seminar are teachers of IVIs, rehabilitation specialists, O&M specialists, designers of O&M aids, and IVIs.

The event will be divided into two identical parts:

  1. Morning session 10-12 (MET) and
  2. Afternoon session 14-16 (MET)

the agenda of the sessions will be as follows

  1. Welcome by the coordinator
  2. Presentation of the ATMAPS project (general idea and goals)
  3. Design of pilot tactile symbols and pilot tactile maps
  4. Audio-Tactile Symbols Specification activities
  5. Presentation of the outcome of the project
    1. Multilingual website
    2. Index of organisations
    3. Web-based library
    4. Training activities
    5. Audio-tactile atlas of Europe

Detailed information and instructions on how you can join the seminar will be sent in a separate letter.


Prof. Konstantinos Papadopoulos
University of Macedonia
Economic and Social Sciences
Research Committee
Attention of Ms. Varvara Vamvoura
156, Egnatia str
Website: www.atmaps.eu
Email: info@atmaps.eu

ATMAPS Consortium

  • University of Macedonia
  • Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
  • GeoImaging Ltd
  • National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
  • Mustafa Kemal University
  • Panhellenic Association of the Blind
  • Association of Barrier Free Access
The logos of all partners

The flag of the EU with the lifelong learning sloganThis project (543316-LLP-1-2013-1-GR-KA3-KA3MP) has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.