Meanings of Tactile Paving: A Blessing for Persons with Visual Impairment

You must have seen tactile paving. These are the brightly colored (usually yellow and/or red) tiles you will see on pavements, metro, underground, subway, bus and tram stations and other public places. Marked with little bumps and ridges, these tiles would be installed in any place that claims to be accessible for the persons with visual impairment.

However, sighted people hardly know significance of these tiles. Most people think that these tactile tiles are used for decorative purpose! The truth is that these tiles serve as a navigation guide for visually impaired people. These tiles serve to enhance accessibility of a place. Although for most people these tiles may look mundane — but for blind people these tactile tiles play a great role in their daily life.

Did you know that various patterns embossed on these tiles actually have a specific meaning?! Well, in this article we are going to discuss the meaning of tactile pavings and how these are useful for blind people.

Trivia: Tactile paving was first developed in Japan by Seiichi Miyake in 1965. In Japanese these tactile tiles are called Tenji blocks. These blocks were first used in Okayama City in 1967. Such blocks are also called truncated domes.

How Tactile Tile Paving is Useful for Blind Persons?

First of all, let’s talk about the color of tactile tiles. Only a small percentage of persons with visual impairment can not see anything at all. Most persons with visual impairment have some degree of sight. This is the reason tactile tiles are made in bright colors like yellow and red. These colors are easier to be seen by partially-sighted people.

Also, red titles are often used for indicating a controlled crossing. For example, you will see red colored tactile tiles on crossings where there is a traffic and/or pedestrian light available. This indicates to the partially-sighted person that she can use pedestrian light to cross the road. Yellow colored tactile tiles are used for uncontrolled crossings.

Persons with visual impairment use a cane to feel the path in front of them. When cane touches these patterned tactile tiles, the bearer gets various types of information on how to navigate the way ahead.

Meanings of Patterns on Tactile Paving

Different countries may have slightly different guidelines for the use of tactile flooring — but mostly these titles carry a similar meaning.

Tiles with Parallel Blister Lines

Tiles with embossed flat-topped blisters in a square pattern are used to indicate that there is a road crossing.

Places where these tiles are often used include:

  • The top and bottom of stairs
  • At the foot of a ramp
  • At level crossing
  • Where people may unintentionally walk directly on to the platform at a railway station
  • Where a footway joins a shared route


Leave a Reply

You must enable javascript to see captcha here!