The history of tactile paths

The history of tactile paths

Tactile paving was first developed by Seiichi Miyake in 1965 and was first introduced into the streets Okayama, Japan in 1967. Its use gradually spread throughout Japan and then in the world. For aesthetic reasons, the color of the paving may not be standard, in order to match the color of the floor or stone floor. Sometimes the contours of the flooring are produced with steel strips and points. Its modern shape can be classified into two codes: the first one has small round protrusions on the surface of the blocks and these are felt through shoe’s sole. The second one is a directional aid, with long and thin bumps installed on the surface. However, many kinds of tactile paving have been produced and installed as an experiment. This led to a situation that can be confusing for both blind or visually impaired people and the elderly. Usually the color of a tile is used to check the correct direction. If the color is not the usual, there may be confusion. Nowadays the use of tactile paving is spreading all over the world and they are present above all in public transport buildings and areas. Our mission is a correct standardization to allow a correct understanding is our mission, possible with the help of associations all over the world.




In Canada, detectable warning surfaces have in recent years started to be found in many provincial and municipal building standards (supplements to the building codes). These standards require detectable warning surfaces in prescribed locations, such as on the slopes of pedestrian curb cuts/curb ramps, exterior and interior ramps, at the top of stairs and on landings, and at the edge of rail platforms. Detectable warning surfaces include both truncated domes and tactile bars.

One of the first architectural standards for buildings requiring the use of detectable warning surfaces was the City of London’s Facility Accessibility Design Standards (FADS). The difference from the American ADA standards is the two different types of tactile surfaces required. At stairs, detectable warning surfaces are required (long bars that in the United States are called “directional bars” but are placed at perpendicular to the main path of travel), whereas offset truncated dome detectable warning surfaces are used for ramps, elevated platforms (like those found at the edges of boarding platforms in transit facilities), and at other areas where pedestrian ways blend with vehicular ways.


Tijuana uses landmark installations before crosswalks that are similar to those used in California. There are, however, no installations of tactile ground surface indicators.

Stati Uniti

In the U.S., tactile warnings systems are required by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The federal government, through studies and guidance provided by advocates and the Access Board, now mandates detectable warnings in prescribed locations, such as on the surface of pedestrian curb cuts and at the edges of rail platforms. Detectable warnings have been required for the edges of rail platforms in the United States since 1991. Detectable warnings for pedestrian curb cuts were suspended for study in 1994, and became officially required in 2001.

The ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) require these warnings on the surface of curb ramps, which remove a tactile cue otherwise provided by curb faces, and at other areas where pedestrian ways blend with vehicular ways. They are also required along the edges of boarding platforms in transit facilities and the perimeter of reflecting pools. The raised pattern of domes also known as truncated domes are the preferred design for detectable warning tiles and pavers.

The usage of tactile paving in many circumstances is required in the United States as part of the ADA.

Adoption of truncated dome-mats has been controversial in some areas including Sacramento, California in 2001. Specifications for current enforceable ADA detectable warnings truncated domes regulation for the general public, is the United States Department of Justice 28 CFR part 36 Revised as of July 1, 1994.

Excerpt from ADA 4.3 Accessible Routes, 4.3.6 Surface Textures, 4.5 Ground Floor Surfaces, 4.5.3 – Carpet, 4.5.4 – Gratings – Textures.

“To date it appears none-of the detectable warnings manufactured, comply with 4.3.6 of the ADAAG. In addition, testing for being a non-hazardous surface placed in public walkways has not been conducted. In the appendix – some common sense reasons are illustrated about textures and their effects on the mobility impaired – A.4.5 Ground and Floor Surfaces. A4.5.1 General. People who have difficulty walking or maintaining balance or who use crutches, canes, or walkers, and those with restricted gaits are particularly sensitive to slipping and tripping hazards. For such people, a stable and regular surface is necessary for safe walking, particularly on stairs. Wheelchairs can be propelled most easily on surfaces that are hard, stable, and regular. Soft loose sand or gravel, wet clay, and irregular surfaces such as cobblestones can significantly impede wheelchair movement. 705 below has not been adopted by the DOJ for the general public and is therefore not enforced by the DOJ.
Specifications for ADA Detectable Warning Truncated Domes
United States Access Board – ADAAG Specifies:
705 Detectable Warnings
705.1 General. Detectable Warnings shall consist of a surface of truncated domes and shall comply with 705.
705.1.1 Dome Size. Truncated domes in a detectable warning surface shall have a base diameter of 0.9 inch (23 mm) minimum and 1.4 inch (36 mm) maximum, a top diameter of 50 percent of the base diameter minimum to 65 percent of the base diameter maximum, and a height of 0.2 inch (5.1 mm).
705.1.2 Dome Spacing. Truncated domes in a detectable warning surface shall have a center-to-center spacing of 1.6 inches (41 mm) minimum and 2.4 inches (61 mm) maximum, and a base-to-base spacing of 0.65 inch (17mm) minimum, measured between the most adjacent domes on a square grid.
705.1.3 Contrast. Detectable Warning Surfaces shall contrast visually with adjacent walking surfaces either light-on-dark, or dark-on-light.”

Tactile ground surface indicators are installed broadly in major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Dalian and Guangzhou. They can also be found winding through suburban areas surrounding major cities; the volume of blocks installed is second only to Japan. Both warning and directional blocks are used, and installed in a manner roughly the same as in Japan. Some areas have their own rules, however, such as in parts of Guangzhou where no blocks are installed in places where directional blocks intersect, a location where warning blocks would normally be installed. Block colors include yellow, grey, green, brown and beige. As in Korea, because installation methods are adopted from Japan, many of the same errors are found. Maintenance is also inconsistent; in many places one can see broken blocks that have been left unrepaired.

Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, warning and directional blocks are found at and around rail stations, and warning blocks are installed before crosswalks and at medians in the city center. Blocks are yellow, silver, black, grey, green and brown. Installation methods are roughly the same as in Japan.


Tactile directional blocks are being integrated into many Indonesian cities (such as DenpasarBali), although the implementation of the technology has not always been consistent.

In Jakarta, warning blocks indicating the entrance to parking lots are installed on the sidewalks in the Jalan Thamrin business area, an installation method unique to Indonesia. Blocks of this type are installed at nearly every parking lot entrance, making for a great many installations. Warning blocks are also installed before some crosswalks in the Jalan Thamrin area. No blocks are installed outside this area, however. Blocks are yellow in color.


Although the tactile pavings were first installed in Okayama city in 1967 and were widely installed throughout Japan, tactile pavings were not standardized until 2001 by Japanese Industrial Standards (JIS). Tactile pavers are installed at almost all curb ramps in Japan. Directional tactile pavers are installed on sidewalk and pedestrian crossings frequently used by vision-impaired people, such as a route between transit facilities and buildings such as hospitals, schools for vision-impaired, community centres, major shopping centres, government buildings and so on.

Since 1994, Japanese law require buildings exceeding floor area of 2,000 square metres (22,000 sq ft) to install and maintain tactile pavings near stairs, ramps, escalators and major pathways. Schools, hospitals, theatres, arenas, community centres, exhibition halls, department stores, hotels, office, multidwelling units, or senior homes with floor space less than 2,000 square metres (22,000 sq ft), must spend reasonable effort to install and maintain tactile pavings inside the building, but it is not required. The original law was replaced by another one in 2006, with wider scope including outdoor areas.

Also by law, all transit facilities in Japan must install directional tactile pavers connecting the path from public entrance to the boarding area or manned booth. All stairs, escalators and ramps must be marked with blister tactile pavers. Airport boarding bridges are exempt from installing tactile pavers, given that handrails are installed and other technical requirements are met. Boarding areas for passenger ferries are also exempt if the area is exposed to waves and tactile pavers might create a trip hazard.


In Kuala Lumpur, blocks are installed mainly at railway, LRT, MRT and monorail stations, and the surrounding sidewalks. In some locations, warning and directional blocks are installed as in Japan, while in other locations, directional indicators are carved into the pavement and warning blocks are installed where directional markers intersect and where pedestrians are to stop. The latter practice is often followed at railway and LRT stations, but the two types were found to coexist at one location. Blocks are yellow, silver and grey. In addition, Pulau Tikus and Brickfields has installed tactile paving to helping vision-impaired people get to surrounding places.


In Singapore, warning and directional blocks are installed primarily around subway stations and in some housing estates. Many crosswalks are also equipped with warning blocks. Installation rules are roughly the same as in Japan. Blocks are silver, yellow and grey.

South Korea

In Korea, warning blocks and directional blocks are installed in accordance with Japanese rules in many locations including sidewalks, subway and rail stations and platforms, public facilities and large shopping centers. The configuration of the blocks, with the exception of some subway stations in Seoul, is the same as in Japan. Blocks are yellow, silver, brown, white and grey. Because installation methods have been adopted unchanged from Japan, many of the same errors are found.


As in Korea and China, warning blocks and directional blocks are installed in accordance with rules nearly identical to those in Japan. Most blocks are yellow, with grey blocks also in use. Tactile ground surface indicators are frequently installed across the entire sloped area leading to a crosswalk, creating an obstacle for wheelchair users and others. In addition, although there are many stepped areas on sidewalks in city centers, very few are marked with warning blocks. This is dangerous for people with impaired vision, and fails to accommodate their needs.


In central Bangkok, warning and directional blocks are used on many sidewalks. Warning blocks are also installed at the top and bottom of stairways at subway and monorail stations. Blocks are not, however, installed at rail stations or rail platforms. Installation rules are roughly the same as in Japan. Blocks are yellow or grey. Many damaged blocks seem to be left unrepaired. Bangkok is a city with many vendors who set up their shops on sidewalks, which frequently cover the blocks.


In the metropolitan cities of Mumbai and Delhi, warning and directional blocks, resembling those in Japan, have been installed in sidewalks leading to, and inside metro stations. Delhi Metro has the most accessible public transport infrastructure in the country. It has tactile paving from entry to exit. Such tiles can also be located on pavements near shopping plazas, and particularly around the Delhi University campus. The tiles are yellow. Although, the tiles within the metro stations are continually cared-for, the maintenance of those set over the sidewalks is generally neglected. The Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi also has tactile paving on its walkways.

India has one of the largest populations of people with disabilities, but the development of pedestrian walkways with tactile paving is at infancy. In 2015, the Government of India has launched the Accessible India Campaign to make the nation’s infrastructure more inclusive and accessible.

The upcoming Kochi Metro rail project, in state of Kerala, will also have entry to exit tactile paving, along the lines of the Delhi Metro.


The Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) released guidelines on access to buildings and services in 2007, under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. This recommends the use of Australian Standard AS/NZS 1428.4:2002 Design for access and mobility – Tactile indicators. The standard specifies the use of truncated cones, rather than domes (as used in the USA). HREOC describes the use of the standard.

In Sydney, blocks are installed at rail and light rail station platforms, before exterior stairways, before exterior obstacles, and at airports and bus stops. Warning blocks and directional blocks are similar to those used in Japan, and installed in the same way, including at the Opera House and other well-known tourist spots. Unlike many other countries, however, blocks are not installed before crosswalks. At some rail and light rail stations, directional blocks lead from at or near the ticket gates to the platform. Blocks are yellow, silver, blue, green and grey. Blue blocks are frequently used at rail stations while yellow is often used at light rail stations.

New Zealand

AS/NZS 1428.4.1:2009 provides the requirements relating to tactile ground surface indicators in New Zealand. Generally, the Standard (AS 1428.4.1:2009) makes available the provisions relating to tactile indicators within the built environment, while the New Zealand Transport Agency’s RTS 14 ‘Guidelines for facilities for blind and vision impaired pedestrians’ facilitates the requirements for tactile indicators within the road environment. Both apply various similar compliance prerequisites to tactile indicators, such as visual contrast, slip resistance in wet and dry conditions, the mean coefficient of friction, resistance to impact (shear strength), weathering resistance and UV stability, wear resistance, and general adhesion/bond strength, particularly when immersed in water.

In general, tactile indicators in New Zealand are required to:

  • be detectable by tactile means;
  • have a luminance-contrast to the surrounding substrate of:
    • not less than 30% across its entire area, if the tactile indicators are the same colour as the underlying surface for integrated tactile indicators;
    • not less than 45% if the tactile indicators are discrete (individually drilled and glued); and
    • not less than 65% for a diameter 25±1 on the raised section for composite-construction (made of two materials that are different colours) tactile indicators.
  • be placed across the direction of travel to ensure detectability; and
  • have a top surface that doesn’t protrude more than 4-5mm above the substrate.

Warning tactile indicators in New Zealand are mandatory at pedestrian cross-walks (also called pram ramps or kerb crossings in New Zealand), at the approaches to stairways, ramps, escalators and moving walkways, the approach to railway level crossings, bus hoarding areas, median cut-throughs, along the entire length of railway platform edges, and before any abrupt changes in grade to the walking surface (1:8 change with a kerb height of more than 70mm). Warning tactile indicators in New Zealand need to be installed to the full width of the approach to the obstacle/hazard so as to minimise the risk of a vision-impaired person stepping over or through the pad and encountering the obstacle. In any event, the warning tactile indicator pad should be no less than 900mm wide, except where that is physically impossible.

Directional tactile indicators are required to be installed at cross-walks, public transport access points and significant public facilities to provide directional guidance for vision-impaired people who have to deviate from the continuous accessible path of travel in order to gain access to the aforementioned. Directional tactile indicators should always point in the directional of travel to achieve this.


In Brussels, blocks are installed before crosswalks, at bus stops and at subway and rail stations and platforms. Most blocks are grey, with yellow, silver and black blocks also used. Brussels has a mix of locations where the blocks (warning and directional) and installation methods are similar to those in Japan and locations where block configuration and installation methods are unique to Belgium.

One of the Belgium-specific blocks uses metal disks of roughly 85mm in diameter and 8mm in height. In Japan, the prescribed size of warning block protrusions is 22mm in diameter (±1.5mm) and 5mm in height, a size designed to promote mobility by the vision impaired without impeding the movement of wheelchair users or elderly pedestrians. Given the large size, height and slipperiness of the metal disks used in the Belgian blocks, they are likely to present a significant obstacle for wheelchair users, children and the elderly. In one part of the city, metal bars are embedded in the road surface where warning blocks would be expected—at the top of stairs and escalators, for example. Being only 3mm in height, these protrusions create no obstacle for wheelchair users or elderly pedestrians but also seem likely to go unnoticed by the vision impaired. In some places, similar metal bars are embedded in the road surface and serve a directional function. Rubber warning blocks are also sometimes installed at bus stops where directional blocks intersect. Brussels, therefore, presents a mix of block types and installation styles that may create confusion for people with impaired vision.


In Paris, warning blocks are installed before crosswalks, at the tops and bottoms of stairs leading in and out of subway stations, and on subway and train platforms. In some areas, blocks serving a directional function are installed within crosswalks. Most blocks are white, but black, grey and pale yellow are also used. To protect the scenery, subway station signs and other prominent man-made objects are not installed near historical sites such as the Arc de Triomphe, the Paris National Opera, the Louvre or the Place de la Concorde. However, tactile ground surface indicators, in colors that stand out (white and yellow), are an exception. Since 2008, Paris has been emphasizing barrier-free accessibility, including such experimental efforts as the uniquely configured blocks installed at the Montparnasse rail station.



Most railway stations and tram or bus stops are fitted with lines of tactile paving, similar in layout to those in Japan. Parallel lines indicate the direction of the line. The paved lines cross over at intersections. Tactile paving at those locations is usually in white or yellow. Some larger cities, such as Leipzig have installed tactile paving throughout their city centers, including normal signs requesting that the paving be kept free of obstacles.


From the scientific collaboration between the Italian Union of the Blind and Vision Impaired (O.N.L.U.S.) and industrial partners, from experimental results, was born the “LVE systems”, a tactile paving aimed at the mobility of people with vision acuity difficulties. It is capable to greater autonomy and security for people with vision acuity difficulties as shown by numerous tests of verification and testing conducted made by Italian Union of the Blind and Vision Impaired, and the associations linked to it.

Inspired by a few, clear design principles (universality of signs, safety, durability), the system allows endless applications in both exterior and interior.The modular elements that make up the path, with channels specially designed in shape, spacing, height and radius of the relief, and colour contrast, allow the blind and partially-sighted to navigate a route through their and soles, with a white stick, .

The LVE system is equipped with a tactile TAG-RFG (Radio frequency ground) that are picked up by an electronic baton.


In Amsterdam, blocks are installed before crosswalks, at medians, and on tram and subway platforms. Both warning blocks and directional blocks are installed according to the same rules as in Japan. Netherlands-specific blocks are used in addition to blocks configured like those in Japan. Most directional blocks are white or grey, while warning blocks are yellow or grey. Where directional and warning blocks are used together, the color of the blocks is often not uniform. Netherlands-specific blocks include some with thin recessed lines. With very little surface irregularity, such blocks are extremely difficult to detect with the feet or a white cane. Grooves carved into the pavement at subway station platforms are also difficult for people with impaired vision to recognize.


In Izmir, tactile ground surface indicators are installed at many locations throughout the city. They are prevalent in the Karsiyaka, Alsancak and Konak districts on sidewalks running along the Gulf of Izmir. They are also located around ferry buildings and metro stations. In Istanbul, the train stations have ongoing works for cautionary, tactile yellow lines. Within this framework, work is currently being done on the installation of tactile paving which guides vision-impaired people from when they enter the station until they board a train.

United Kingdom

Tactile ground surface indicators are installed at many locations throughout Greater London.[22] Tactile ground surface indicators are installed in accordance with unique standards established by the United Kingdom’s Department for Transport. Blocks with dots and blocks with bars are used, but both types are intended as warning blocks; neither serves a directional function. Blocks are mainly installed before crosswalks, at medians, at station platforms and at the tops and bottoms of stairways. Blocks with dots are for installations at crosswalks, medians and station platforms while blocks with bars are for installations at stairways. The color of blocks installed before crosswalks is also supposed to vary with crosswalk type: red blocks are to be used before controlled crossings,[23] such as zebra crossings (where pedestrians always have the right of way), pelican crossings (equipped with push-button traffic lights) and puffin crossings (with sensor-equipped push button traffic lights). Other colors (often buff) are to be used at other crosswalks where automobiles have the right of way.

The difference in color is intended to assist people with low vision to navigate the crosswalk safely, but many locations do not conform to the established colors. Different color blocks are also sometimes installed when repairs are made. Blocks are installed in an L-shaped configuration at crosswalks with push-button traffic signals, with the corner of the L marking the location of the push button. Blocks with bars are installed at the top and bottom of stairways such that the direction of the bars is parallel to the long dimension of the treads.