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Mental maps

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A mental map is a technique used by the blind to help them orient themselves and navigate spaces. Instead of using visual landmarks and directions, they use the senses of touch, hearing and smell.


The sense of touch can be a very valuable tool for orientation. Many blind people use the locations of walls or objects, changes in floor texture, and temperature changes from air flows to help them make a mental map of a space[1].


Blind people use the sense of hearing to locate people and things in a room and to judge distances. For instance, hearing a radio or T.V. may help a user locate that item and judge where they are in respect to it. Echoes can also be very useful and some blind people actually tap their canes on the ground to create echoes as they move[2].


Using smells is a little less common than using Touch or Hearing. Smells can be useful in locations that are known for a particular scent such as a kitchen for cooking.