What Is Tactile Paving?
If you take a look at the paving on the street, you may notice that there are certain places with points of raised relief in the ground. These points that stand up are meant to guide and alert those who are blind or who have reduced visibility of possible obstacles. They also serve as an informational reference for people moving along the street by identifying the points with shoes or with a probing or support cane. This relief is characteristic of tactile paving and we will provide details that define this type of paving and show its importance for promoting and facilitating accessibility for people who utilise the city streets.
What Is Considered Tactile Paving?
Tactile paving is considered the surface of the pavement that contains a relief and colour that is purposefully in contrast with the remaining ground. The aim is to guide and advise those who are blind or have reduced visibility of the path that they are travelling on. Also known as Tenji blocks or detectable warning surfaces, tactile paving is meant for pedestrians that have impaired vision with the idea that, with their shoes or long support cane, they can easily recognise any possible danger that may result from the changing road conditions. This may include access to a pedestrian walkway, the border of train tracks or if there is an incline or slope in the walkway or even an approaching stairway.
What Makes This Pavement Different?
There are two types of tactile paving, although both of these types follow the same pattern of a grid type relief that sticks up a few millimetres from the surface of the pavement. These patterns may take the shape of bumps, small and dull spikes or raised buttons. The materials used are often concrete, clay or stone. In general, tactile paving is commonly manufactured in the shape of a rectangle or square of about five millimetres thick which is then embedded as a coating.
The following list explains the two types of tactile paving currently being used today:
- Paving to indicate direction or approaching elements
This type is made up of continuous pieces that are aligned in straight and parallel canals with a depth of five millimetres maximum. The square or rectangle covering relief should be placed so that the deepest part of the canal is placed on the same level as the rest of the pavement and the edges are raised in long bar shapes. According to the established norm, noted in the UNE 127029, this type of directional pavement or indication should be used in the following situations:
- Indication of elements that change in level of accessible routes.
- Indication of public transport on the street.
- Joining two differentiating paths for the pedestrian to choose their path.
- Outline a certain path.
- To announce a point of traffic crossing in the pedestrian pathway and surrounding traffic.
- Button paving as a warning of approaching a possible point of danger
This is formed by button shaped bumps with a height of four millimetres maximum. Tactile paving, in this case, is designed in such a way that the buttons in a linear grid are moving in the corresponding direction of movement, making it easier for elements with wheels to move, such as wheelchairs or pushchairs. Under the regulation UNE 127029, this type of pavement is necessary in the following situations:
- Bus stops that do or do not have shelter
- The metro, tram or train platforms
- A pedestrian walkway
- Detour in pedestrian areas
Both types of pavement, both directional and as a warning, should be created using anti-slip material that allows for simple identification with footwear or a long cane if used by pedestrians with a certain type of visual disability. Likewise, said paving should follow the requirements described in the Order VIV/561/2010, which develops a technical document with the basic conditions of access and without discrimination of access and use of the public urban spaces.
In summary, the analysis and choice of location and situation of state to position the different types of tactile paving is fundamental if it really intends to take advantage of the correct use and recommendation. On the contrary, an excessive use of this tactile paving will not only inhibit people who are visually impaired, but it will also confuse them while transitioning on the pavement, making it useless.
Constructing tactile paving does not require a large amount of work. Currently, there are certain types of rubber pavement with buttons that are easily mounted as it would only require pasting or installing them by using a drill, which allows them to trace the itinerary to follow so that any pedestrian can get to know it can be useful.