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

Interpretation guide

When maps, underlays, overlays and key are complete, an interpretation guide including ‘how to read’ information can be written. The most appropriate order of exploration of the raised graphics should have been ascertained through consultation with one or more visually impaired readers prior to designing the key. That information should be used in the preparation of the interpretation guide. This guide should offer readers the most efficient way of learning what is represented on their map, including the layout of the page, a description of the key, and any other relevant information about the mapped site (see Appendix 1). Short sentences convey the instructions most effectively.

The ‘how to read’ information should take a reader on a guided tour of a map. Each symbol should be ‘visited’ and explained during this explanation. Subsequently, readers should be able to form some idea of the meaning of the map and each of the symbols. Most people prefer this information as recorded speech, so they can listen to it whilst reading the map and not have to take their hands off the page to read a braille transcription. An additional printed version of the interpretation material will allow dual use of the map package by sighted and visually impaired readers.

A draft version of the ‘how to read’ script should be tried out with more than one visually impaired person if possible, and, ideally, with people other than those involved in testing the maps, so that they are not using their memory of a map layout during the trial.