This is going to be a short post. This morning I woke up with the feeling of trying something new. Listening to a recent podcast about the sound and the voice I came up with the idea of making a map for blind people. I found out that there is some research about routing or direction maps for people with limited vision or just blind, but what about thematic webmaps?
In less than an hour I learn about how to use the SpechSynthesis API to translate text into speech. I used Spanish from this list of available languages, but the voice still sounds like a robot. The interesting part, as discussed in the podcast, would be improving the voice to be as human as possible. This is the key lines of the code:
const msg = new SpeechSynthesisUtterance(region); msg.lang='es'; window.speechSynthesis.speak(msg);
Then I built a webmap with interactivity using CARTO VL (but you can use any other webmapping library) and using the new learnings to speak a property when the user hovers over a feature.
The only problem is that since last year, Google Chrome only allows sounds after user interactions. So in order to make it work, we will need to click before hovering…
This is just an example with a category map, but the same can be applied to choropleths or proportional symbols. Of course, this map alone is not enough to offer a satisfactory experience for blind or limited vision people. You would need a complete UX for this.