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What are the messages that tactile paving tiles relay?

Tactile paving tiles – a hidden language

Tactile paving tiles are a vital part of the way that the visually impaired navigate around our town and city streets. They act as signposts relaying messages about the upcoming terrain and the changes that are quite literally afoot. But what are those messages that they’re relaying?

Blister paving

Blister paving is quite obviously sensed underfoot with its rows of blisters creating peaks with troughs in between. When stepped upon they push into the sole of the shoe creating an obvious physical sensation. The feeling is distinct from offset blister paving as the dots or blisters on offset are detectable in that separate pattern, with more pronounced troughs between the blisters.

The message being sent by blister paving is to alter the speed at which you’re walking and be prepared to stop as there is an imminent hazard. This hazard usually comes in the form of traffic and train platform edges.

Lozenge paving

Lozenge paving isn’t too dissimilar from blister paving, these lozenges are essentially elongated blisters. The sensation felt under the foot is more awkward and less sharp than that of the blister. The message relayed here is much the same as blister paving with the distinction being that it’s in reference to an on-street light rapid transit platform or LRT.

Corduroy paving

Corduroy paving’s bars are distinguishable by the dips in between each bar where the foot touches down. The shoe sole almost bends around the bars, enough to get the signature tactile feeling they provide. The length of the bars and their rounded humped peak make them hard to miss.

The message that corduroy paving sends is to slow down and proceed with caution, usually in reference to elevation changes or where a footpath joins a shared route.

Consistency is key

These key messages are an important part of how the visually impaired can independently go about their lives in urban and rural areas. Without them, some areas can become entirely inaccessible without the help of guide dogs or assistance. They not only warn of impending hazards and changes, but they also help the visually impaired locate where they are. With the patterns and shapes of the tactile elements being distinct, they can oftentimes remind the user of where they are and what other impedances they may likely encounter. This is why it is of great importance that tactile paving be installed correctly and with great vigilance to ensure that the information relayed is accurate and that the messaging is clear.