After years of work, a 3-D printed braille map is available for interaction.
After years of persistence and fine tuning, a 3D braille map of campus can now be found inside the Memorial Student Center at the entrance closest to Koldus and Kyle Field.
The map was placed in the MSC on Sept. 13, and students and visitors who are visually impaired can use the map to navigate around campus.
Mechanical engineering junior Tyler Wooten designed and printed the map with the help of the Association of Former Students and University Center & Special Events (UCEN). Wooten thought of the idea for a 3D braille map his freshman year after taking a 3D printing class at the Engineering Innovation Center (EIC) and his involvement with Startup Aggieland.
“I was thinking about what I could use the printers for because I really wanted to just keep working with them,” Wooten said. “I reached out to the president of disability services who connected me with Kaitlyn Kellermeyer, and I met up with her to talk about the idea.”
Wooten worked with economics senior Kaitlyn Kellermeyer, who lost her vision in both eyes during her freshman year at A&M, disability services and the EIC to print a small version map of campus. The small version, however, posed some complications with the level of detailed contained.
“One of the complications we heard was that it was a little too detailed to be that small, so if we could make a larger map that would be extremely helpful,” Wooten said. “We wanted to put it in a central building so everyone could find it.”
Wooten worked with 2016-17 MSC President Brian O’Hara and UCEN Communications Coordinator Caroline Lopez on putting the large version braille map in the MSC.
“We had to get with vendors from Houston, and they helped us design this stand from scratch,” Lopez said. “When they delivered it, we were super excited because it’s been such a long process.”
Wooten finished the small scale version his sophomore year but has spent the past year working with the university to print and display the large version.
“I was told the map is up and freaked out, hopped on my skateboard and rode to the MSC,” Wooten said. “It’s just surreal seeing it in person.”
Assistive Technology Coordinator for Disability Services Justin Romack said this map makes a huge impact on the visually impaired traveling A&M’s campus.
“As a totally blind traveler of our campus, it’s awesome to have a tangible representation of the buildings and spaces I interact with everyday,” Romack said. “I may be totally blind, but I’m still a very visual, very spatial learner, so having something I can touch and tangibly see the connections between locations is incredibly helpful in navigating our massive campus.”
UCEN Associate Director Judy Marrs helped plan placing the map in the MSC and said the map attests to A&M’s inclusiveness.
“I think it brings a high level of awareness,” Marrs said. “I think the awareness piece says everyone is welcome to our campus, and we are doing everything we can to make that possible in our facilities.”
Lopez said current, former and future students and their families will be able to experience campus in a whole new way.
Wooten hopes other students who see the map will be inspired to continue to find even more ways to include and help fellow Aggies.
“There are problems that other people have that you take for granted every day,” Wooten said. “Having something like this, I hope it makes people think. I hope it makes people try to come up with even more ideas.”