Click here to bypass page layout and jump directly to story.=

UC Berkeley

University of California

Campus News







  Press Releases

  Image Downloads



3-D model helps students get better feel for campus

22 August 2002

BERKELEY - This fall, visually impaired students have a new navigational tool: a 3-D, tactile model of UC Berkeley in the lobby of the campus’s Disabled Students Program.

The model replicates campus terrain, architecture and landscaping, including pathways, sidewalks, fences and even Strawberry Creek. What distinguishes it from traditional models is the use of textures and Braille. Two small rods, for example, indicate crosswalks; smooth wires mean pathways; a rough surface marks a paved street; saw-toothed edging stands for fencing; a gritty, sand-like substance indicates building entrances.

The model also will assist students with mobility issues. Students with cerebral palsy or chronic fatigue syndrome, or those who use wheelchairs, can use the model to see the terrain of the campus and choose the best route to their destination.

Earth and planetary science professor George Brimhall designed the model with staff research associate Abel Vanegas and several students in the Earth Resources Center Digital Mapping Lab. Equipped with portable pen tablet computers and global-positioning units mounted in special vests, the students walked every inch of the campus to map its terrain. It took nearly two months to plot every nook and cranny.

– Lyn Hunter