Jacobson, R.D. (2004) Haptic Soundscapes: Developing novel multi-sensory tools to promote access to geographic information. In: Janelle,D., Warf, B., and Hansen, K (eds.) WorldMinds: Geographical Perspectives on 100 problems. Kluwer: Dordrecht, pp 99-103.
This essay explores the critical need for developing new tools to promote access to geographic information that have throughout history been conventionally represented by maps. This problem is especially acute for vision-impaired individuals. The need for new tools to access map-like information is driven by the changing nature of maps, from static paper-based products to digital representations that are interactive, dynamic, and
distributed across the Internet. This revolution in the content, display, and availability of geographic representations generates a significant problem and an opportunity. The problem is that for people without sight there is a wealth of information that is inaccessible due the visual nature of computer displays. At the same time the digital nature of geographic information provides an opportunity for making information accessible to non-visual users by presenting the information in different sensory modalities in computer interfaces, such as, speech, touch, sound, and haptics (computer generated devices that allow users to interact with and to feel information).