Architecture and tactile ground markers

A band of yellow tactile hazard markers surrounds the outside of a poorly constructed footpath. But there are no markers on the nearby kerb ramp.When it comes to accessibility in the built environment, it’s a common for people to think wheelchairs. Consequently, designers think of adding ramps, wider corridors and elevators. The Australian Standard for access and mobility is focused on wheelchair users and people with vision impairment. So it is little wonder that designers think this is the sum total of disability access – something to be added at the end. When tactile ground markers and ramps are not integral to the design we end up with long ramps and an excess of tactile ground markers. 

An article in Archdaily discusses the integration of tactile surfaces into design. The article gives a brief history, discusses the different types of tactile ground markers and how they are used. The main point of the article is that added thoughtfully, tactile makers can “improve the lives of all their occupants”. The article has many pictures to illustrate points made. 

A blind person will use their white cane to follow the directional markers, not their feet. People with low vision or partial sight can also use these markers effectively if there is sufficient colour contrast. 

The title of the article is, Why we should integrate tactile surfaces into architecture. It has pictures and drawings to illustrate points. 

The picture above shows a row of hazard markers (round dots) surrounding a poorly constructed forecourt to a building. Thoughtful construction would have eliminated the need for this. Ironically, the kerb ramp at the left of the picture has no markers contrary to standards. 

Three steps into doorway are tiled with grey hazard tactile markers edged with yellow markers. Editor’s comment: I have a large file of pictures of poorly and wrongly placed tactile ground surface indicators (tgsi). Some are placed as if to prevent slips. For example, on the treads of stairs.