- What are Tactile Indicators?
- What is the difference between Warning and Directional Tactile Indicators?
- What type of Tactile Indicator is best for my project?
- Does my project require Tactile Indicators?
- What materials are Tactile Indicators made from?
- Do Tactile Indicators need to be yellow?
- How do I measure colour contrast?
- Do Tactile Indicators need to have a colour contrast?
- What is the price of Tactile Indicators?
- What are the most durable Tactile Indicators?
- Can I install Tactile Indicators with a DIY kit?
- Where do Tactile Indicators originate from?
- Why use Tactile Indicators?
- How are Tactile Indicators percieved by the blind/vision impaired?
- What should I consider to get correct colour contrast?
- Where are Tactile Indicators used?
- What is the need for tactile indicators in Australia?
- What are Tactile Indicators standards in Australia?
Tactile ground surface indicators (TGSI's) are either raised truncated domes or directional bars that are built into or applied to walking surfaces. They can be made from various materials (see question 5 below).
Tactile Indicators are designed to give warning of hazards in the continuous accessible path of travel and directional information to pedestrians who are blind or who have impaired vision through their contact by foot or cane with the ground surface.
Pedestrians with low vision also use the colour contrast to detect the modules visually.
Warning tactile indicators, also known as hazard tactile indicators, are textured surface features applied to the walking surfaces that are intended to function much like a stop sign. They alert pedestrians who are blind or vision-impaired to hazards in their line of travel; indicating that they should stop to determine the nature of the hazard before proceeding further. Note that they don't indicate what the hazard will be, however.
Directional tactile indicators, also known as leading tactile indicators, are textured surface features consisting of directional bars applied to walking surfaces to give directional orientation to people who are blind or who have low-vision. Directional tactile indicators help vision-impaired people to navigate in open spaces, and designate the continuous accessible route to be taken. Directional tactile indicators also guide people who must deviate from the continuous accessible path of travel, allowing them to safely access a crossing point, public transport access point or the entrance to a significant public facility.
For outdoor applications Polyurethane tactiles or Stainless Steel tactiles are highly recommended.
Polyurethane tactile indicators are a retro-fit system suitable for interior and exterior applications to new or existing surfaces.
Polyurethane tactile indicators are a hard-wearing and tasteful solution that can be installed indoors or outdoors, to new or existing surfaces. They are designed as a retro-fit system, meaning they can be installed after the substrate has been laid. Our polyurethane tactile indicators are designed and manufactured in Australasia to a very high specification. The standard colour is safety yellow, however they can be manufactured in practically any solid or metallic colour.
Stainless Steel tactile indicators are also a retro-fit system suitable for interior and exterior applications to new or existing surfaces.
Our stainless steel tactile indicators are a premium and stylish solution manufactured from high quality 316 marine-grade stainless steel. As with the polyurethane tactile indicator stud system, they can be installed indoors or outdoors, to new or existing surfaces. They are designed as a retro-fit system, meaning they can be installed after the substrate has been laid. Our stainless steel tactile indicators are designed in Australasia and manufactured to a very high specification. Quality brass and other types of alloy tactile indicators are also available for special projects.
TacPro® is happy to advise on the most suitable Tactile Indicators for your project – contact us for more information.
In public buildings in Australia, Tactile Indicators are a mandatory requirement.
If the general public have use of the facility or have access to or through it; or if there are collision or tripping hazards or hazards with the potential to result in a fall, tactile indicators are also a mandatory requirement.
It is not unusual for tactile indicators to be overlooked when plans are drawn up. Last minute CPU (Certificate for Public Use) headaches can be avoided by checking with the architect, consultant or council as to the tactile indicator requirements for your project.
TacPro® offers a cost free consultation service, where we are happy to advise on the application of the standards, provide layout guidance and seek clarification from architects, consultants or council representatives where necessary.
Tactile Indicators can be made from a variety of materials including precast concrete, polyurethane, stainless steel, rubbers and ceramics.
As long as they comply with the relevant standards relating to dimensional and spacing requirements, tactile indicators can be manufactured from any material that will withstand the harsh roading environment.
Durable UV-stable and corrosion-resistant materials such as stainless steel, brass and polyurethanes are the best suited materials for tactile indicator manufacturing.
The most commonly installed tactile indicators in Australasia are polyurethane tactiles and stainless steel tactiles. These are generally individual studs (also known as discrete tactile indicators) that are retrofitted.
No, although, safety yellow is often the recommended standard colour due to its clear contrast with most surrounding surfaces.
The standards provide colour-contrast requirements to achieve the correct tactile contrast to the surrounding surfaces. Tactile Indicators need to provide a clear contrast to the surrounding surface. This is generally achieved using light-on-dark or dark-on-light.
TacPro® is one of Australasia's leading tactile suppliers and can manufacture polyurethane tactile ground surface indicators in virtually any colour. We are happy to discuss contrast requirements and recommendations with you to ensure they comply.
Why do we recommend Safety Yellow?
Research by Bentzen et al (Accessible design for the blind, May 2000) indicates that the colour ‘safety yellow’ is so salient, even to persons having very low vision, that it is highly visible even when used in association with adjoining surfaces. Their research found that safety yellow TGSI having a 40% contrast withnew concrete was subjectively judged to be more detectable than a darker TGSI having an 86% contrast with new concrete.
Section 2.2 of AS/NZS 1428.4.1:2009 outlines the luminance contrast values required of tactile indicators, as well as techniques for laboratory and on-site measurement of differences in light-reflectance values (luminance contrast).
The standard AS/NZS 1428.4.1 requires the following luminance contrast to the immediate adjoining surface:
- For Tactile Indicators of a uniform, solid colour: 30%.
- For individual domes/studs of uniform colour: 45%.
- For individual domes/studs with two-colour characteristics: 60%.
Indicative field measurements can be performed using a photographic spot meter by the method outlined in Appendix F. If you know the Light Reflectance Value (LRV) of your ground surface (some generic examples are here) they can be compared with the LRV of our Tactile Indicator products (listed here) in our handy colour contrast calculator at the bottom of our Tactile Colour Contrast page.
Yes. Tactile Indicators, whether a solid unit or discrete studs, need to provide a luminance contrast with the surrounding substrate.
The purpose of a tactile indicator is to alert vision-impaired pedestrians of impending obstacles and hazards in their path of travel. Tactile indicators act not only has a physical change in texture for blind pedestrians, but also as a visual change for pedestrians that have low-vision of failing sight.
Tactile indicators vary in price depending on what material they're made from and the substrate they are to be installed to.
- Polyurethane tactile indicators price range from $120 - $180 per LM (1,000 x 600mm).
- Stainless steel and brass tactile indicators price range from $390 - $550 per LM.
- Precast concrete tactile indicators range price from $75 to $120 per LM.
- Rubber peel-and-stick tactile pads range price from $100 to $250 per LM.
Stainless Steel individual (or discrete) tactile indicators are the most durable on the market. They must, however, be machined from a reliable source using high quality materials. TacPro® are one of Australasia's most reliable tactile suppliers and this is beacuse we only use marine-grade 316 solid-billet stainless steel for our Tactile Indicators.
Brass is also a durable material for tactile indicators, although brass can vary in quality so it must be manufactured from high-grade materials to avoid corrosion. TacPro® only use DZR (dezincification resistant) brass for to ensure a truly premium finish.
Polyurethane tactile indicators can be extremely durable, but only if the manufacturer uses a proven, high-quality UV-stable material. TacPro® uses specially formulated polyether polyurethane because it's far-superior to polyester polyurethane. This ensures that the tactile indicators don't fade or crack with UV exposure.
Stainless steel tactile indicators with Carborundum infill can be used, but the problem with this type of tactile indicator is durability. Durability in any two-component tactile indicator in the harsh traffic and roading environment inevitably relies on professional manufacturing. Statistics show that 80% of all two-part tactile indicator manufacturing fails and therefore we recommend sticking with normal stainless steel tactile indicators.
Ceramic tactile indicators can be used successfully for indoor installations, but only where they are limited to foot-traffic. Exterior use is not recommended as ceramics are prone to cracking and chipping.
Rubber peel-and-stick tactile indicators are the most vulnerable and unreliable type of tactile indicators. They are susceptible to moisture-penetration around and under the pads which causes them to lose adhesion and eventually fail. Better success is achieved if used indoors, or as a temporary only outdoor solution.
Precast concrete tactile indicators are used for external applications. Their durability depends entirely on the mix-design of the precast concrete. Precast concrete tactile indicators should be 50+ MPa, 60mm thick and have a UV package utilising high-grade colour-oxides. We recommened you select manufacturers with extensive experience.
Aluminium tactile indicators are not suitable for any type of use. Despite a number of companies producing aluminium Tactile Indicators, the material is extremely soft. Any significant foot-traffic will quickly wear the walking surface, reducing any anti-slip properties and rendering the units non-compliant. Again, we highly recommend the use of regular stainless steel tactile indicators.
Yes. Tacpro® has developed the easiest and most reliable installation tactile DIY kit on the market. The TacPro® KitBox is a self-install kitset that comes complete with everything you need. The DIY tactile kit includes: laser-cut rubber drilling templates for easy layout and two-pot epoxy with a rapid-shot adhesive injection system. TacPro® are Australasia's Leading Tactile Indicator Supplier and our efforts ensure that you don't have to worry about the small stuff. Our easy-to-follow instructions will ensure a professional job.
Tactile Indicators can be found all over the world, on train station platforms, pedestrian crossings, bus stations, ferry terminals, the tops and bottoms of stairs and escalators - the list goes on. But it all started back in 1965 in Japan, when they were created by an inventor called Seiichi Miyake.
Originally called Tenji blocks, tactile indicators were first installed in Okayama City in 1965, a decade later, they became mandatory in Japanese Railways, forty years later and they are all across the globe. The system has been constantly developed and standardized since then.
In Japan, tactile indicators are mostly installed on the ground surface of pedestrian areas in the form of hard, rubber tiles of approximately 300mm square with a grid of raised domes or parallel bars on the top surface that blind people and those with vision impairment can touch with their cane or feel through their feet.
Tactile Indicators are found at train stations, airports and many other public places. They consist of either a grid of raised circular domes or raised parallel bars. The bars indicate a particular direction of travel, while the domes are an indicator to stop and consider the immediate surroundings as a hazard is imminent. Imminent hazards could be vehicular traffic, in the case of a pedestrian crossing, a fall onto rail tracks at train stations or tripping up or down stairs and escalators at a shopping mall.
People rely on visual, audible, tactile and other sensory information from the surrounding environment for their orientation. Most people who have low vision are able to see in colour, though colour discrimination may be impaired. Some sources report that yellow colours are more salient as vision is lost. Only a small percentage can see nothing at all, but even that group will generally have some sensitivity to light and shade. Contrast between the walking surface and surrounding environment is critical for people who have low vision for orientation, distinguishing the limits of the footpath, recognising hazards and gathering information.
Contrary to popular belief, a loss of sight is not accompanied by an increase in the effectiveness of other non-visual senses. However, people who are blind or have low vision generally place more emphasis on information received via other senses, for example the sense of touch. Therefore, pedestrian facilities must have consistent design features that assist people who are blind or have low vision with their orientation.
Walking Environment In order to negotiate the urban environment people who are blind or have low vision need to be able to find their way along footpaths and across roads. They do so with the help of a variety of environmental cues. Environmental cues include, the property line, the edge of the sealed path, the kerb, and consistently placed street furniture e.g. parking meters. Those people that rely on their residual sight use visual contrast cues for their orientation. People who are blind or have low vision will move around either independently or with the aid of another person who will act as a guide. Those who move around independently will do so making the most of their residual sight and any mobility aids.
Mobility Aids The most common mobility aid used by pedestrians with vision loss to facilitate their independent mobility is a long white cane. This is used to preview the ground in front of the person to detect hazards. Previewing takes the form of moving the cane in an arc from one side to the other to just beyond the shoulder width. This technique will usually locate potential obstructions such as street furniture, provided that there is some element at ground level or within 150mm of the ground, and distinct changes in level such as a kerb upstand or a step. One technique that long cane travellers use is the constant contact technique in which the cane tip maintains constant contact with the ground as it is swept. This allows the user to detect the presence of distinct changes in texture underfoot. Once any feature has been located and possibly identified, the pedestrian will decide how to proceed.
This is where Tactile Ground Surface Indicators (TGSI) become a very useful wayfinding tool.
In the example of attempting to cross a road, a pedestrian who is blind or has low vision needs to:
- Find the crossing point
- Identify when the footpath finishes and roadway is about to be entered
- Determine the direction to cross
- Determine when it is safe to cross
- Maintain orientation while crossing the road
- Find the opposite kerb crossing point.
Changes in texture between the Tactile Indicators and the surrounding ground surface are felt, using the sense of touch, through their feet or with a cane. For those with low vision, the contrast in light and colour between the Tactile Indicators and the surrounding ground surface an additional advantage for safe wayfinding.
In addition to warning vision impaired pedestrians of a potential hazard, areas or 'pads' of Tactile Indicators are often installed in pairs, positioned on the ground in a way that helps orientate the user to the correct crossing direction - the reciprocating Tactile Indicator pad, once contacted, lets them know they have negotiated the hazard safely. The raised parallel bars on directional Tactile Indicators help to lead or guide vision impaired pedestrians to points of interest such as audible help points, a dedicated pedestrian crossing or an access ramp. They are also a useful wayfinding tool in open areas where other tactile cues may be lacking.
The visual contrast between the walking surface and surrounding environment is critical for people who have low vision. They are using their limited residual vision for orientation, distinguishing the limits of the footpath, recognising hazards and gathering information. Contrast is especially important in the provision of Tactile Indicators to warn pedestrians of hazards.
Visual contrast exists in three dimensions – brightness, hue and saturation.
Brightness refers to the amount of light reflected by a surface – perceived as light or dark. Differences in brightness provide the main contrast available to a person with poor colour discrimination. It could be considered as the contrast that would be provided if the surfaces were viewed in black and white. Brightness is easily measured using a luminance meter. Minimum luminance contrast values are specified in Section 2.2 of AS/NZS 1428.4.1: 2009 which also details techniques for laboratory and on-site measurement of differences in Light Reflectance Value or luminance contrast.
AS/NZS 1428.4 requires the following luminance contrast to the immediately adjoining surface:
- For Tactile Pavers or Tiles of uniform colour: 30%
- For individual domes of uniform colour used in warning TGSIs: 45%
- For individual domes with different characteristics on the sides and top of the domes: 60%
Many foot paths in Australia are surfaced with dark asphalt. On these a luminance contrast of 70% is easily achieved with white or yellow Tactile Indicators.
Hue refers to the basic colour reflected by the surface, and can simply be described by the elementary colour names such as red, green, yellow, blue. It is most easily understood by reference to the colour wheels used in paint charts (see below).
The greatest contrast is provided by colours on opposite sides of the colour wheel. Avoid using the same or adjacent parts of the colour wheel. If the aesthetics of the design dictate that TGSIs are to be of similar hue to the adjoining footpath surface, then an increase in the contrast should be sought by greater differences in brightness and saturation.
Saturation refers to the purity of colour. Highly saturated colours are pure and vivid. Colours with low saturation are pastel or dull. Red and pink may have the same hue but pink is less saturated. White and black have no saturation
Research by Bentzen et al (Accessible Design for the Blind (May 2000)) indicated that the colour “safety yellow” is so salient, even to persons having very low vision, that it is highly visible even when used in association with adjoining surfaces having a Light Reflectance Value (LRV) differing by as little as 40%. Their research found that safety yellow TGSI having a 40% contrast from new concrete was subjectively judged to be more detectable than a darker TGSI having an 86% contrast with new concrete.
We may not pay any mind to Tactile Indicators while moving through our towns and cities, but for the people who are blind/vision-impaired who are not permitted to drive a motor vehicle; independent mobility depends on walking. To the visually impaired, Tactile Indicators are an extremely useful tool that aid in the safe navigation of their urban environment with confidence and independence.
The installation of Tactile Indicators is mandatory in all buildings that people have frequent access to, examples include:
- Train stations, airports and transport hubs.
- Ferry terminals.
- Hospitals and clinics.
- Education facilities.
- Recreation facilities.
- Shopping malls and retail precincts.
- Hospitality venues such as hotels, restaurants and theatres.
- Museums and galleries.
- Government and office buildings.
In the streetscape environment Tactile Indicators are required at:
- Zebra crossings and curb let-downs.
- Level railway crossings
- Boarding points at bus and tram stops.
- Shared spaces where visual contrast between the footpath and roadway is missing.
- Busy vehicle crossing points such as shopping centres, bus stations and large public car parks.
Warning Indicators alert people who are blind or have low vision, to pending obstacles or hazards on the continuous accessible path that could not reasonably be expected or anticipated using other tactile and environmental cues – they warn of:
- Life threatening hazards such as being hit by road vehicles or trains.
- Where tripping or a serious fall may occur such as stairways, ramps, escalators and moving walkways.
- Overhead impediments or hazards such as wall mounted objects and archway structures with a clearance of less than 2m from ground level, in an accessible open public space.
- Street furniture inappropriately located in the continuous accessible path of travel and not detectable by a person who is blind or has low vision using the aid of a white cane.
Directional Indicators are used to provide directional guidance where a person must deviate from the continuous accessible path of travel to gain access to:
- A road crossing point
- Public transport access point
- Significant public facility e.g. public toilets or information centre.
- Across open space from one point to another
- Around obstacles in the continuous accessible path of travel (where warning tiles are not sufficient).
Over 300,000 people are affected by visual impairment in Australia and that number is growing, with some estimates suggesting that the number will increase to over 420,000 by 2021. With one person being diagnosed with vision impairment every 65 minutes in Australia that estimate seems like it will be pretty accurate.
Creating a safe environment to help and support those with visual impairments to move around with independence, confidence and dignity is an important goal for Australia. There are standards and codes already in place that set out minimum requirements for aids to be integrated into the built environment to assist the visually impaired. These include Tactile Indicators, Braille signage, safety stair nosings with a contrasting colour and texture and audible cues at traffic lights and public facilities – all designed to make the built environment more accessible to those with special needs.
With the projected growth rate of our population and an increasing aging population there will be more people with visual impairments using our public spaces. Having a consistent and integrated strategy to help the blind and vision impaired navigate the urban environment now and into the future is a basic requirement for the ongoing health and wellbeing of our communities.
In Australia, Tactile Indicators are mandatory in certain areas and there are a number of national standards and legislative codes to make sure that their installation, placement and design are all correct and consistent to allow for safe movement of the visually impaired through the urban environment. These are:
- The Australian and New Zealand standards AS/NZS 1428.4.2002, which explains their required design, application and layout.
- The Building Code of Australia (BCA) Section Clause 3.8 which states the minimum that must be done as a legal requirement.
- The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) This Federal Act states why and in what context.
- The Australian and New Zealand standards NZS/AS 4586:2004 which dictates slip resistance requirements for new pedestrian surface materials.