Every day, millions of people across the world encounter a secret language literally under their feet; Tactile Paving.
First launched in 1965 in Okayama, Japan Tactile paving is a system of textured ground surface indicators found most commonly on footpaths, stairs and train station platforms to assist Visually Impaired Individuals (VII).
Tactile warnings provide a distinctive surface pattern of truncated domes, cones or bars detectable by long cane or underfoot which are used to alert VII of approaching streets and hazards or surface grade changes.
Originally installed at pedestrian crossings and other hazardous road situations in Japan, the United Kingdom and Australia, the United States picked up the standard in the early 1990s, after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed. Canada started incorporating them into transportation first in the 1990s, and then added them to other aspects of the built environment in the early 2000s.
Different types of tactile paving can warn VII of different obstacles such as the top and/or bottom of stairs, kerb edges, level crossings, platform edges and cycle lanes.
Conspexit is currently prototyping and designing an application that will personally assist people with a visual impairment to gain greater independent mobility but we’ve also taken on another challenge; raising awareness around sight loss. So, we suggest the next time you go for a walk along your local street you try and imagine if you could walk your route relying on tactile paving to alert you to the many dangers?
Here’s a useful and quick guide to some examples of tactile paving in London by YouTube blogger, Tom Scott and The RNIB:-
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