The Sound of Stockholm: A Storytelling Podcast for People with Blindness or Visual Impairment

"There is a gap for accessible map products. With our guiding podcast and haptic map, we try to make maps explorable for people with blindness and visual impairment."

What it is about

Currently, there is a significant gap in map resources tailored to blind individuals [2]. Usually, maps rely on visual perception and therefore have limited accessibility for the needs of people with blindness. Addressing this issue is crucial to bridge this accessibility divide and promote inclusivity. This project focuses on enhancing the independence and confidence of blind individuals when exploring unfamiliar places. We aim to enhance remote exploration for people with visual impairment with an audio-description of the maps as a guide-podcast and augment it with the haptic map.

How we built it

We built the haptic map with OSM data [3] and from the Swedish open data [4]. The map transformations were calculated in R. After processing the data, we generalized and symbolized it with its haptic map symbology first visually in ArcGIS and QGIS. A lot of criteria are to be considered when generalizing the map for haptic use and afterwards, Braille descriptions can be incorporated. A next step would be to produce a haptic map from this model. Some companies offer the production of such haptic maps as a service. For our second podcast, we acquired data from tourist guide websites ( and Afterwards, we recorded a podcast on different topics (overview, historical sights, food) with OBS Studio and cleaned and cut the audio using Audacity, Kdenlive and CapCut.

Challenges we ran into

In our project, we faced challenges such as designing maps for a target group unfamiliar to us, considering the inherent challenge of being sighted. Designing a podcast to guide individuals with blindness through a map raised questions about how diverse descriptions are perceived to understand spatial relations. Furthermore, it was our first time producing a haptic map and a podcast, requiring us to generalize a map for haptic use and create an informative podcast. We discovered that haptic maps can convey sparser information than visual maps. Additionally, we decided to use a map transformation that enhances the city center, allowing us to showcase the entire city. Overall, the project was a demanding endeavor for us.

What we're proud of

We are proud of our ability to comprehend the gaps in accessible maps and create a more inclusive (or accessible) product—a haptic map coupled with storytelling podcasts to bridge the missing components. We enjoyed the learning process of creating a haptic map and exploring various materials to ensure easily distinguishable features on the map. Additionally, we recognized the importance of generalizing elements on the map to achieve comprehensibility in mapping. Finally, we enjoyed getting creative on the podcast and hope you can enjoy exploring Stockholm with us!

What we learned

We learned to be flexible in our expectations in order to meet our time limits. In addition, we gained some experience in podcast editing, haptic map design and map transformations. We are also very grateful for the OSM project, as most free, open-source data from government agencies in Sweden are rather small scale.

What's next

A follow-up on this project can be a survey on how well the podcast can be perceived and of course, producing the actual haptic map to test it, too. In a future perspective, we have ideas on further material on further episodes in Stockholm and of course, the project could be extended to other cities.


[1] Leung, Y. K., & Apperley, M. D. (1994). A review and taxonomy of distortion-oriented presentation techniques. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, 1(2), 126–160.
[2] Ottink, L., Buimer, H., van Raalte, B., Doeller, C. F., van der Geest, T. M., & van Wezel, R. J. A. (2022). Cognitive map formation supported by auditory, haptic, and multimodal information in persons with blindness. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 140, 104797.
[3] OpenStreetMap. Buildings, Coastlines, Parks. Available online: (Retrieved 1 December 2023).
[4] Stockholm stad Öppna data Dataportalen. Roads. Available online: (Retrieved 1 December 2023).
Irene Chang
Rica Thißen

13th intake
Juliane Cron, M.Sc.
haptic-map, auditory-exploration, blindness
Try it