Alexis brought an interesting item with her: the Wheatley Picture Maker from the American Printing House for the Blind. We saw it when we toured there in February, and she got it so we could map out routes while she was learning her way around here. It's a really fascinating thing!
It has a flannel board sort of thing that has two sides, so it can be folded over. When it's folded, it's about the size of a book. There are pieces with velcro on the back that are different shapes: long strips, little rectangles, triangles; and tiny circles and squares. The pieces have different textures on top, so when you're done putting your map together you have something that is meaningful in a number of ways and can be taken down and recreated to mean something else.
When I was a student in college, a couple of tactile maps were made for me at different times. They can be complicated to make in a permanent form, mostly because they take time to dry. This is a fascinating solution, although the kit is somewhat expensive initially. The expense, however, is justified. Once you have the kit, you can make your own pieces by sticking Velcro on the back of anything you want to use. Then is's ready for use on the board!
We've already made a little map of the home neighborhood... The address system here is fairly straightforward, at least going east to west. I called around and asked a couple of places some questions about what they were near, and my parents said my map was fairly accurate. They helped me fix the errors, and Dad said he would walk the area with us for a bit of orientation to new points.
I just wanted to post about the Picture Maker since this was the first time I had really worked with it. I'm quite impressed.