The Importance of Detectable Warning Surfaces for Those With Limited or No Vision
There are detectable warning surfaces everywhere, including the base of every ramp leading to the street and at the corner of every intersection. Even though individuals frequently walk over these surfaces without giving them much thought, they play a crucial role in many people's lives, including those with limited or no vision.
What Are Detectable Warning Surfaces?
A detectable warning surface is “A standardized surface feature built in or applied to walking surfaces or other elements to warn of hazards on a circulation path” (106.5, 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design). Detectable warning surfaces are a unique and standardized requirement to help those with limited or no vision safely navigate urban roads and streets.
According to RTE, not only are they found at pedestrian crossings to warn visually impaired people who might find it difficult to differentiate between where a footpath ends, and the road begins, but they are also at bus stops, shared cycle paths, and railway platforms. These surfaces must meet specific guidelines for size, texture, and placement and be easily distinguishable from surrounding surfaces by touch and sound.
How Do Detectable Warning Surfaces Impact People with Limited or No Vision?
Detectable warning surfaces are beneficial for people with limited or no vision by allowing them to travel independently while navigating hazards like bicyclists and vehicles. These braille-like surfaces encourage the highest quality of life for all people, regardless of their abilities, to remain vigilant as pedestrians. The changes in texture and pattern throughout urban areas make it easier for people with disabilities to be aware of a change in path, curb, or direction.
RTE also goes into detail about how detectable warning surfaces help people “read” the streets and navigate comfortably and confidently. Providing clear and consistent information about the location and extent of hazards alerts individuals on how to navigate their environment with greater confidence and ease. This can help to reduce anxiety and fear associated with travel, making it easier for people with visual impairments to participate in daily activities and lead more independent lives.
Research conducted throughout the years backs up the use and importance of detectable walking surfaces. According to Accessible Design for the Blind, two different studies (Barlow and Bentzen, 1992, and Hauger, Safewright, Rigby & McAuley, 1994) “confirmed that for blind travelers, removal of the single most reliable cue to the presence of an intersecting street, that is, the down curb, caused problems.” Both researchers found that people with mobility impairments assert that truncated domes increased their feelings of safety and stability without requiring exuberant maneuvering efforts.
In conclusion, detectable warning surfaces are essential to accessible and inclusive design. They increase the safety, mobility, and independence of people with limited or no vision by providing a consistent and clear warning of hazards. Implementing detectable warning surfaces is essential in meeting society's obligation to ensure that public areas and buildings are accessible to everyone.
At StrongGo, we believe in developing a more accessible environment to ensure equal opportunities for people with little or no vision and the disabled community. We do this by engineering and designing detectable warning dome tiles. Learn more by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or exploring the rest of our website.