Getting a feel for Hamilton


Think Differently reports:

Judy Small reads one of the new tactile maps_2Two new textured maps with labels in Braille or large print will help people who are blind or have low vision find their way around Hamilton.

The tactile maps show roads, talking ATMs, taxi stands, public toilets, the Waikato River, roads and other features.

“It will help people get out and about with more confidence,” says Blind Foundation board member and Hamilton City Council Disability Advisor Judy Small, pictured.

Fifty copies of the maps are available at, i-SITE, Hamilton Transport Centre, Waikato Museum, Hamilton Gardens, Hamilton Zoo, Waikato Stadium, city libraries, the Claudelands Events Centre and customer services on the ground floor of the council’s Civic Building. There is no charge.

Although tactile maps have been created on demand for individuals, Hamilton is the first New Zealand city to produce maps for public browsing, says Judy.

“I just think it’s awesome because it’s the first time it’s been done. “It’s a great thing for cities to do to encourage their blind residents and visitors to get out and about.”

The project is the result of six months’ consultation between the council and the Blind Foundation. Focus groups of people who are blind or have low vision helped decide what features needed to be on the maps.

Judy has already put the Braille map to the test.

“The other day I was going somewhere I hadn’t been before and I had a look at the map and found out where the street started and finished, so I knew what direction to turn once I got there. It will give you more confidence you’re going in the right direction. I could also work out the quickest way.”

She says the maps will help her give instructions to taxi drivers, and encourage them to take the shortest route.

For some people it’s the first opportunity they have had to read a map.

The map was produced with funding from the Think Differently campaign.

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