Alejandra Coll E.

Cartography Department

Tactile Cartography Centre

Metropolitan Technological University


Fernando Pino S.

Geography Department

Faculty of Architecture and Urban Studies

University of Chile





The sustained development undergone by the line of research into tactile cartography over the last ten years at the Metropolitan Technological University, in Santiago, Chile, has enabled an inter-disciplinary and international team to be consolidated, thus making it possible to cover the needs for access to geographic knowledge of visually handicapped people.


The study of the symbology for the various scales of work and different thematic variables have been portrayed through a tactile cartography that has enabled children, young people and adults to be able to study topics in the area of geography. This has helped their learning while being entertaining at the same time, particularly for those student with visual and hearing handicaps, even for those who are not handicapped but, being at the same schools, improve their integration with the whole class.


The research has been carried out within the framework of the research projects approved by the Pan-American Institute for Geography and History (PAIGH) and in the Organization of the American States (OAS). The products of this research relate to the themes portrayed on small-scale maps, such as: maps of physical terrain, vegetation, climate, population and political maps, covering the World, Latin America and countries in Latin America, along with cartography at intermediate scales such as urban plans of the capital cities of Latin America, and at large scales on the subject of school and classroom plans in various schools of Latin America. Moreover, Manuals of Geographic Concepts have been created with cartography demonstrating various concepts in a spatial model, such as rivers, lakes, hills, among others, these being accompanied by photographs and texts in Braille.


The cartography and boards showing the various concepts of the Earth, likewise the teaching and entertainment materials about geographic topics have been made in PVC and foam plastic materials, enabling the creation of 3D models 3D with Braille writing, for the use of blind persons and all those who can make use of their sense of touch.


In paralell with the research and production work, training courses have been implemented and given about using and handling tactile material for teaching geography, in which the re-evaluation of basic cartographic concepts and of the techniques and criteria for decoding cartographic models, with an emphasis on reading and interpretation, has enabled a large number of teachers from various schools in several countries of Latin America to acquire the skills needed to obtain maximum benefit out of the materials made.


On this occasion the development and achievements reached so far during the performance of these projects are presented, and the impact on the education of our handicapped students by the use of the tactile cartography and teaching materials made over the last four years is described.