3D model for visually impaired people

Posted by b-unicycling on 23 February 2022 in English. Last updated on 6 March 2022.

As part of my video tutorial series about the Derrynaflan Trail in Co. Tipperary, Ireland (playlist), I had made some videos about 3D mapping and the feedback was quite good. One non-mapper asked me what the use of 3D mapping was. So I decided to try and use it for a practical reason. (There will be a video about this as well in a couple of days.)

I have a blind friend who was very excited about a bronze model of Waterford a few years back, so I thought that I would do something like that, but on a smaller scale. I have some experience with 3D modelling and printing from years ago, but I’m in no way an expert.

I chose the churchyard in Magorban for this, because a man who, according to his gravestone, was a “friend of the blind” - Thomas Armitage (Wikipedia) - is buried there. There is a video about mapping his grave as well. I decided to recreate the graveyard and the church which happens to be a church of the Board of First Fruits (Wikipedia) tradition, and I thought that would add educational value.

The problem was that it can be quite expensive to get a model of that size printed and I thought I would have to get a sponsor or start a GoFundMe, and I thought that that was maybe a bit too much effort for just one video. Luckily, I had heard that our local library has a 3D printer, and I was flabbergasted to learn that it was free to print there! So, I met the guy in charge and looked at the printer etc etc. Him and his colleagues were quite excited, because they don’t get to print projects like that very often.

I won’t go into any detail about the technical side of it, because it will be covered in the video. He needed an *.stl file, but could convert *.obj as well, so that’s what I sent him. I was a bit limited in the size by whatever size the printer could do. I wanted the whole graveyard printed, because I was trying to print the footpath to help visually impaired people to get the perspective. I could not scale down the Braille labels, because there are specifications for that. I had a blind person test a test print, before we started printing the project which was to take 18 hours.

Magorban Church 3D 01

Magorban Church 3D Braille

Magorban Church 3D 03

The footpaths did not come out like I meant them to, the windows don’t all look the same, even though I copied and pasted them, but the Braille looks okay to me. I showed it to the blind guy and he was very impressed with the turrets and the Braille. (The thick two poles in the back indicate pine trees.)

With a better 3D printer, the details might have come out better, but I don’t think I can complain when I got it for free.

I will probably also upload the model to sketchfab, in case anyone else wants to play around with it or print it.

Overall, I think that the church should have been larger, so that visually impaired people can feel the details better. It could have been printed in two parts and glued together, for example. However, it was only a first attempt to see if it’s at all possible to work with OSM data. It is. ;-)

Here’s the link to the video on my YouTube channel.

Location: Magorban, Ardsallagh, The Municipal District of Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary, Munster, Ireland


Comment from Stereo on 25 February 2022 at 22:22

Unfortunately, your images are broken for me - some kind of http/https issue, and no valid certificate on the server hosting your blog.

Here are the three images for other readers:

Comment from cityofgod on 26 February 2022 at 07:33

Wow, that’s incredibly cool! Thank you for sharing! :)

Comment from b-unicycling on 26 February 2022 at 09:08

@Stereo, thanks for that, it was displayed fine for me, might depend on the browser or who knows.

Comment from EricJRW on 1 March 2022 at 16:07

Images worked for me. Very cool!

Comment from EricJRW on 1 March 2022 at 16:10

Oh, meant to add that a link to the OSM area mentioned (i.e. the Chruch) would have been cool.

Login to leave a comment