When it comes to ensuring pedestrians remain safe in high-traffic areas and places susceptible to slips and falls, tactile stud indicators play a significant role that cannot be overemphasised. They are valuable tools for persons suffering from visual impairments or blindness in navigating the world around them. But how do they do this?
Tactile stud indicators help warn folks of impending danger from hazardous situations – such as when they’re getting close to a train platform or a stairway. They also serve as directional cues that facilitate easy movement in public spaces.
Complying with industry standards is highly critical when installing tactile stud indicators to ensure the safety of life and property. Compliance also ensures that visually impaired persons receive the appropriate information about their surroundings to help them successfully find their way around.
When tactile stud indicators are improperly installed – or maintained – the risk to people’s lives and safety increases astronomically, and your business becomes easily susceptible to a variety of financial and legal sanctions revolving around operational health and safety (OH&S) compliance. You also risk being labelled as a business that discriminates against people struggling with disabilities, if there are negligible – or no – provisions for proper installation of tactile ground surface indicators (TGSIs).
If you’re considering installing tactile indicators, this article will provide valuable tips that ensure your efforts meet acceptable Australian Standards.
There are two different forms of tactile stud indicators:
- Tactile stud indicators that give hazard warnings and are usually “studded”, and
- Tactile stud indicators that provide directions guidance and are usually “ribbed”.
Both formats of tactile indicators serve as a universally recognized navigation language by persons who are visually impaired or blind.
It is very important that you use hazard tactile indicators to warn unsuspecting folks about the dangers of possibly hazardous areas, especially in the office or around public spaces. These hazardous areas are places where the risk of a person slipping or falling is very high. Some of these slip-prone places include escalators and ramps, the entrance and exits of driveways or car parks, and the edges of train platforms.
Directional tactile indicators, on the other hand, are more commonly used to guide and direct traffic in public places. They can also be found at bus or train stations where they are used as mid-block crossings or at intersections having slip-lane crossings.
There has to be a certain level of consistency and uniformity in the way tactile indicators are installed and used. This level of consistency and uniformity is particularly essential in ensuring that blind or visually impaired persons are able to enter public buildings and spaces in a respectable manner without worrying too much about their safety. It also encourages and fosters a stronger and better awareness of public safety.
There are several bodies tasked with the responsibility of ensuring consistency in installing tactile surface ground indicators (TGSIs) in Australia. Some of them include:
- The Australian and New Zealand Design Standards for Access and Mobility (more commonly known as “AS1428:4”);
- The Disability Discrimination Act;
- The Building Code of Australia.
The Australian and New Zealand Design Standards for Access and Mobility mandates that the installation of tactile ground surface indicators must comply with set standards in size, placement, and contrast.
Below are some of the steps to follow when installing tactile surface indicators to ensure that they meet acceptable industry standards.
- Actively Participate In The Design And Construction Process
The best way to ensure that your carefully designed layouts work exactly as intended is to integrate them as early as you possibly can in the installation process, because tactile indicators must be fixed at established distances from hazardous areas, and should satisfy contrast and size requirements.
You also need to determine which type of stud indicator you’d use as there are different surfaces on which you can install tactile indicators. The sooner you start incorporating these considerations, the smoother the tactile installation process would be.
- Determine Your Stud Placement Measurements
The placement and arrangement of your tactile stud indicators needs to be precise to provide consistency in the message passed across to those with visual impairments.
Tactile stud indicators should be fixed at a distance of at least 300mm (give or take 10mm) from the site of potentially hazardous areas – such as the top or bottom of stairways and escalators or near the edge of train platforms. They should also be installed at least 600mm deep to provide folks with sufficient heads-up about potential hazards.
- Make Sure You Use The Correct Tactile Indicator Layout
Installed tactile indicators have to be elevated off the ground enough for them to easily be felt by people’s feet or walking canes. However, you’d need to be careful to ensure that they are not installed so high that they cause folks to stumble. That would be causing more harm than good!
There has to be uniformity in the size of each tactile unit and the distance between them when they are installed to eliminate confusion and possible misinterpretation of the indicators. The minimum distance between two tactile indicators is 50mm (give or take 1mm).
- Ensure That Your Tactile Indicators Satisfy The Requirements For Luminance Contrast
The degree to which tactile indicators are visible – also known as the “luminance contrast” – is a crucial factor to consider when installing tactile indicators. They need to be bright enough for people to see so they don’t stumble and fall while walking.
According to Australian Standards, Discrete tactile indicators should have a minimum of 45% luminance contrast against their background surface, and a dual-coloured Discrete stud indicator should have at least 60% luminance contrast.