How to Create Accessible Digital Maps Using SAS Graphics Accelerator and Google Maps

This post was updated on July 3, 2020.

Summary

This post explains how to create non-visual digital maps that contain points of interest such as intersections, bus stops, buildings, and other landmarks. The resulting maps can be posted on your website or shared with students via email.

The scale of the maps can range from a city block, to a campus, to an entire metropolitan region. You can create maps that are used by many students, e.g. a map of a school or college campus. Students may use the map to orient themselves as a freshman and then refer back to the map at the beginning of every semester when they need to find new buildings.

Students with visual impairments or blindness can access the maps using a pair of headphones and a standard computer keyboard. They can pan around the map, zoom in or out, and quickly perceive where points are located in relation to each other. This interaction provides a very effective way for students to orient themselves to a new school or plan travel to a new destination.

Step 0: Before you begin

  • You must have a Google account.
  • You must install the Google Chrome browser.
  • You must install SAS Graphics Accelerator in Google Chrome.

Step 1: Create a map in Google My Maps 

  • Go to mymaps.google.com.
  • Click the Create A New Map button. It is near the top left of the page and it is red.
  • Click the text box that contains “Untitled map”.
  • Enter a title for the map.
  • Click Save.

Step 2: Add points to the map using Search 

  • Use search bar at the top to search for locations.
  • Select one or more results.
  • Click the Add To My Map button which is near the bottom left of the page.

You can search for a wide variety of objects including:

  • A specific place such as the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.
  • A specific address such as 11 West Jones Street, Raleigh, NC.
  • An intersections such as Wilmington Street and Edenton Street.
  • Categories such as restaurant, Italian restaurant, park, parks in Raleigh, bus stop, etc.

Step 3: Add points for places you see visually on the map

  • Click on objects you see visually within the map such as buildings or intersections.
  • Click the Add to Map button.

Step 4: Add points for any random location on the map

  • Click the Add Marker icon which is near the Search bar at the top of the page.
  • Click anywhere on the map such as the main entrance of a building, an intersection of two sidewalks in a plaza, or a landmark that is easily located using hearing.
  • Enter a name for the point.
  • Click Save.

Step 5: Test the map using SAS Graphics Accelerator

  • Wait about one minute after your last change to the map so your changes can be automatically saved on the Google server.
  • With the map open in Google My Maps, click the Accelerate button in the bottom right corner of the map to open the map in SAS Graphics Accelerator Map View. If you don't see an Accelerate button, install SAS Graphics Accelerator using the link above.
  • Within Map View, press Page Up / Page Down keys on Windows (or Fn Key and Up Arrow/ Fn Key and Down Arrow on Mac) to explore objects in any direction around your current virtual location.
  • Press H on your keyboard within Map View for additional commands.
  • Read the SAS Graphics Accelerator Maps: Student Uploading and Accessing Maps post to learn how students explore non-visual digital maps.

Step 6: Share the map with your student

Note: Your student must first install SAS Graphics Accelerator in Google Chrome.

  • With the map open in Google My Maps, click the share button near the top left corner of the screen under the title of the map.
  • Click the Copy Link button.
  • Open an email to your student.
  • Paste the link into the email.
  • Copy/paste the following instructions into the email:
    • Click the link above to open the map in Google Chrome.
    • Activate the Accelerate button in the bottom right corner of the map to open the map in SAS Graphics Accelerator Map View. Tip: In JAWS or NVDA, press B to find the next button on the page and press spacebar to activate it.
    • In Map View, press Page Up / Page Down keys on Windows (or Fn Key and Up Arrow/ Fn Key and Down Arrow on Mac) to explore objects in any direction around your current virtual location.
    • Press H within Map View for additional commands.
    • Read the self-guided maps tutorial to learn more about non-visual digital maps.

Resources

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Comments

Posted by Diane BraunerMay 13, 2020

Note: Google Maps is not accessible with a screen reader. To create an accessible digital map using mymaps.google.com, requires vision.

Posted by Diane BraunerJun 25, 2020

Software update on June 22, 2020 has new user-friendly features that has streamlined the process of creating maps and opening non-visual maps. Learn more in Software Update post.