Best practice guidelines for the design, production and presentation of vacuum formed tactile maps

Page layout

It is advisable to include a blank margin at least 10.0mm wide all round the page. This ensures that when a map is trimmed the edge is smooth and does not offer any sharp points where raised symbols close to the edge have been cut above the base level of the sheet. This margin also allows a map to be bound with a printed underlay, for dual visually impaired/sighted use, and aesthetically, it is more pleasing than images that extend to the edges of a page.

Page orientation depends on map design. The shape of the site will determine whether a map is placed in portrait or landscape layout on a sheet. The shape of the raised image will often dictate where title, scale bar, and north arrow are placed, but details of the positions of all these elements should be included in ‘how to read’ information.

Most people seem to prefer to begin reading a map from the bottom of the sheet. Therefore, it is preferable that some easily found reference point (landmark) is available towards the lower edge of a map, to use as a starting position. The title and date, in braille, should be across the top of the page, preferably toward the left margin (a visual underlay, presented in the final product, should incorporate a large print version of the title).

A scale bar and north arrow should be included on most maps; sometimes they may not be relevant. A scale bar that represents 25m, or multiples of 25m, on the ground, is a satisfactory size, as most visually impaired people seem to be able to understand that distance. For example at a scale of 1:1250, 20.0mm represents 25m and readers can easily use a series of two finger widths (approximately 20.0mm) to calculate distances on a map. Few visually impaired people seem to use the north orientation on a map but they like to have it available.