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The Bridge - Mapping the future for visually impaired

Collab launches 3-D group effort

Mapping the future

Mapping the future

“I have been reading Braille all my life, and I am totally blind,” said marketing major Jason Polansky ’18. “Maps really help me orient my location.”

As part of a Collaboratory group, Polansky works with faculty and peers to create Messiah’s first map for the visually impaired.

Taken from satellite imagery, the map can be mass produced on the College’s 3-D printer. The prototype doesn’t yet include intricacies such as crosswalks and elevators.

Engineering major Carlie Adair ’20 is working on the next version. “I’m trying to make a campus map that includes everything in the College app—the creek, College Avenue, Creekside Drive,” she said. “I’m also trying to find a way to differentiate between the roads, paths and buildings.”

Julia Baker ’17, a human development and family sciences major, serves as the liaison between the group and Disability Services, the client for the project. “I intern for [Director of Disability Services] Amy Slody, so I have conversations with her about the progress and what she would like to see with this project.”

Future steps include figuring out a “you are here” component, perhaps with a phone application. “Jason’s phone gives him feedback that, for example, he could be 70 feet from the Oakes Museum,” explained Dereck Plante, engineering projects manager. “I could imagine engineering students developing an app that triangulates where you are and how close you are to a building with this map.”

Associate Professor of Graduate Education Maude Yacapsin, the project manager, says the Collaboratory brings people together.  “While Disability Services is our client,” she explained, “you could also hand out this map to anyone. It could be used by Admissions. The beauty with this project is that it is interdisciplinary, and that’s new for the Collaboratory.”

Polansky, who will serve on the Collaboratory’s board next year, says the group is not limited to engineering majors only. “We need business people. And, keeping the website up to date is important. Education majors would find this interesting. Making it multidisciplinary is what I’d like to see for the Collab’s future.”

— Anna Seip