AmauroMap is derived from "amaurosis", the Greek word for blindness or extremely impaired vision and indicates a map for blind or visually impaired people. However, it is not meant to be an analogue tactile map that can be touched by users, but an interactive online map to help in preparing for trips.
AmauroMap researches accessible city maps for the internet and aims to help blind people to live more independent lives. While the results of route planning can be made available for blind people as spoken instructions, the use of online city maps remains prohibitive for blind people. Conventional routing instructions such as “turn left after 150 meters” offer a very linear means of accessing spatial information. Although blind people are directed from A to B, a great deal of spatial information passes them unnoticed.
AmauroMap offers a new form of spatial description in that it attempts to show blind people an area as a whole. Unlike route planners, the innovativeness of the application lies in the fact that the blind are not guided in a linear fashion through the city. Instead, they are offered the possibility to experience and understand city spaces, streets, places, parks, etc. as spatial constructs. Currently, we know of no other projects that seek to make internet city maps barrier-free.
The project will be realised using existing applications, empirical information and descriptive mechanisms that remain to be developed in an effort to remove one of the last barriers of the Internet. AmauroMap attempts to prepare digital city maps for the blind in such a way that they are transformed into cognitive maps (mental maps) that bring city structures closer to them. Descriptions of housing blocks, streets, and green spaces as well as audible, tactile and “smellable” locations and their combination to cognitive maps will automatically be derived from modern vector maps so that an application covering a large area can be created. To this end, through qualitative interviews it can be determined how spatial descriptions must be provided, so that the target group is able to use and understand them. For the programming of the prototype, open source software and free datasets will be applied to the extent possible. Spatial information will be provided using screenreader software. The project AmauroMap is supported by the Internet Foundation Austria IPA within the Netidee programme.