SAS Graphics Accelerator Maps: Student Uploading and Accessing Maps

Learn how students can access teacher-created custom maps & intro to understanding the maps.

In his post, How to Create Accessible Digital Maps Using SAS Graphics Accelerator and Google Maps, Ed shared how to create accessible digital maps. In this post, we’ll take a look at how students can upload and access these custom-made digital graphs in the .html file format. Students can use these maps to build mental mapping skills for personal information, to build O&M-related skills and to answer worksheet questions for class. There are two sample maps available in this post that you can download and explore. These two sample maps of the Northern Illinois University were created specifically for Hi-Tech O&M Workshop for students in the O&M prep program at NIU.

Accessing the Shared HTML File

Once the map has been created using Google Maps, it can be shared with the student as an HTML file. 

Before Accessing the HTML File

The student must initially complete these steps. Note: Steps 1 and 2 are only necessary the first time the student accesses SAS Graphics Accelerator.

Open the sample map, NIU Campus Basic map attached here in Google Chrome.

  1. Install the SAS Graphics Accelerator for Google Chrome from the Chrome Web Store.
  2. Follow these steps to enable SAS Graphics Accelerator to access local files;

    • Press Control-F2 (Mac) or alt (Windows) to move focus to the menu bar or navigate to the Ribbon at the top of the screen.
    • Use the arrow keys to navigate to Window > Extensions and then press Enter to open the Extensions page.
    • Activate the Details button for SAS Graphics Accelerator and enable the “Allow access to file URLs” toggle button.

Screenshot of Google Chrome with annotated arrows pointing to Window in the ribbon and

  1. Reopen the map page (.html file) in Google Chrome

    • Note: If Google Chrome is not your default web browser, open the HTML file in your preferred browser, then copy and paste the URL into Google Chrome.
  2. Activate the Accelerate button within the map

SAS Graphics Accelerator Maps

The SAS Graphics Accelerator maps are created to be accessible for students who rely on a screen reader – these maps are not intended to look like a visual or tactile map. These maps provide the data available in standard maps, such as spatial relationships between locations, distances, etc. Students with visual impairments can actively interact with the map, jump to desired places on the map, explore to discover items in the map, quickly determine the distance between two locations, and more.

The SAS Graphics Accelerator maps are designed as if you are virtually standing at a location in the middle of the circle and your are looking at things around you. You can rotate in a cirlce, sweeping your virtual long cane to find items as your turn in your circle. You can choose to move closer to or away from things around you. When your virtual cane comes in contact with an item (a.k.a. “point”), you will hear the name of the point, the point’s distance from you and the direction of the point. In the screenshot below, NIU’s College of Business is 700 yards from my virtual position in the center of this map, and the College of Business is located at my 1:00. 

Note: with SAS Graphics Accelerator, you always face North which is always at 12:00.

NIU Campus Basic Map

The screenshot below is of the NIU Campus Basic Map in SAS Graphics Accelerator. There is a large circle with 14 points. The virtual cane begins in the center and is a dotted light green line that ends at the circle; the target of the virtual cane is on the point, NIU College of Business, about half way between the center and the edge of the circle. The virtual cane is positioned 1:00 – from the center to top right section of the circle. On the right side of the screen, are Download as HTML and Help buttons. Below the buttons are:

Label = NIU College of Business

Bearing = 1:00

Distance = 700 yards

Screenshot of SASGA showing NIU Campus Basic Map

Use the directions above to install the NIU Campus Basic Map here and explore the map. This is a basic map of the Northern Illinois University with only 14 points and the Label of these points are only the name of the item. This map may be a good map to introduce younger students or students who are not as tech savvy to SAS Graphics Accelerator.

NIU Campus 2

The next sample map is NIU Campus Detailed map. This map as 46 points and the Label includes additional, searchable information, such as “academic building”, “intersection” and “restaurant”. This map also includes intersections along the boundary of NIU’s campus, when appropriate. This map provides intermediate level of details about the NIU campus and was created for students and adults who are eager to explore the campus and are ready to develop a more complex mental map.

The image below is the NIU Campus Detailed map with 46 data points. There are outlier points at the top of the circle and several clusters of points below the center of the circle. The virtual cane is center going to the bottom, left (7:00) with the virtual target slightly more than halfway to the edge of the circle.

Label = Annie Glidden Rd and Lincoln Hwy

Bearing = 7:00

Distance = 813 yards

Screenshot of Map NIU Campus with 23 points.

Use the directions above to install the NIU Campus Detailed Map and explore this map. This is the map with 46 data points. 

Note: When creating a custom map, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists (COMS) should carefully consider who is going to be using the map, the O&M skill level and tech level of the student, and what O&M goals are going to be taught with the map. The two example maps above were created for two different level users: intro and intermediate level users. If the map is designed to orient a student who is an incoming freshman to the NIU campus, the COMS would be sure to include critical areas on campus for that student, including buildings where the student will have classes, his/her dorm, dining hall, and key areas around campus. Once the student has the basic information and has had a chance to build a basic mental map of key campus points (and ideally has had the opportunity to physical walk these routes), the student may then want a second map – an advanced map – that has all the campus buildings labeled. Another student may want the full advanced map version from the start. Note: NIU is a relatively small campus; for large universities, an advanced map with all the buildings labeled may be overwhelming; the advanced map of that complex campus may only label key landmark buildings in each area labeled. Learn more about best practices when creating non-visual digital maps here.

Learn more about the SAS Graphics Accelerator maps feature here.

Commands for Exploring Maps

Once the NIU map is opened in SAS Graphics Accelerator, sweep the virtual cane using Page Up (Windows) or Fn Key and Up Arrow (Mac). The first time the virtual cane is used, the Label will state, “No default attribute assigned, press L to choose an atrritube for labels.” Press L and the label will be the name associated with the point.

Below are the commands used with SAS Graphics Accelerator maps:


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