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Evolution of a 3D Campus Map

2014 October 30
by jnoblitt

Submitted by Lore Schindler, Los Angeles Unified School District

Last year, we bought our first 3D printer to test out how we might produce tactile representations to connect our students with visual impairments to the world of visual images. I quickly realized that the potential of 3D printing for our students is huge, but that the software to create the images involved a learning curve. We needed help.

Fortunately, last summer we met Joan Horvath, an engineer working with Deezmaker, (the 3D printer store where we bought our printer), and the author of Mastering 3D Printing. She connected us with a wonderful group of young students at Pasadena City College (PCC) and their Fab Lab. I asked if they would create a tactile map of our elementary school campus, and they started to work immediately. These college students were amazing! In three weeks they walked our school campus, learned the basics of the braille code, designed and printed a lightweight and foldable tactile map of our school campus. I showed the map to some of our Orientation and Mobility instructors. They were impressed with the design and suggested a few changes to fit how they orient their students to the campus. Within a week, the PCC students responded with a version 2.0 of the map—we were blown away by their responsiveness and dedication to the project. I asked one of our students who reads braille to explore the map, and his response after some hands-on time was, “It looks cool and I wish I had one.” Check out his initial investigation of the 3D campus map from this YouTube link.

While the PCC students have moved on to other projects, including creating 3D images of chemical molecules, we’re continuing to work with Deezmaker and hope to have a 3D map of one of our middle school campuses completed soon.

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