Walking

Tactile Walking Surface Indicators (TWSI)

What are Tactile Walking Surface Indicators?

Why are they being used now in Toronto?

Who was consulted on Tactile Walking Surface Indicators?

Why are Tactile Walking Surface Indicators important?

Specifications and Construction Standards

Where can I look up additional information about this?

 

 What are Tactile Walking Surface Indicators?

The flat bumps that you see laid out on newer street corners are called "Tactile Walking Surface Indicators", as shown in the following photos:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos: Public Realm Section, Transportation Services

They are called "tactile" because they are intended to be detectable under foot when walking. They are used to alert people with low vision or no vision of hazards, such as moving car traffic or the edge of a drop at subway station platforms.

Initially, cast iron will develop a rusty red colour which may stain the sidewalk in the first year following installation. This will disappear and the cast iron develops a natural patina which provides an even greater tonal contrast with the sidewalk.

Why are they being used now in Toronto?

Toronto must follow Ontario laws that aim to make the province and our cities and towns more accessible for persons with disabilities.

Under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, there are new standards as of December 2012 for the Design of Public Spaces that apply to new construction and the redevelopment of elements in public spaces. 

Corners with curb ramps or depressed curbs must have tactile walking surface indicators with "raised tactile profiles" that have a high tonal contrast to the adjacent surface.

Who was consulted on Tactile Walking Surface Indicators?

Toronto follows universal standards, in order to provide consistent indicators to persons with disabilities.

Tactile walking surface indicators are universally used. The design is based on Canadian (CSA) and International (ISO) standards. Japan has been using them since 1967. The ISO standard was created in 1999, and the U.S. has been widely using them since 2001. The CSA standard was created in 2004 and updated recently in 2012. The Canadian National Institute for the Blind has also published a guide in 2009.  The Government of Ontario also had a significant consultation process involving advisory groups and representatives of various disabilities in the development of its accessibility standards.

In addition, a pilot project was conducted by the city at an intersection by St. Michael's Hospital from November 2012 to July 2013. You can download the report on the pilot project by clicking here. The project involved public consultation, media interest, and the site visit of members of the Disability Issues Committee including testing by representatives of seniors, persons with mobility issues, persons with visual-impairments using a white cane, and mobility instructors for the visually-impaired. Observations were made of various persons using the intersection, especially the elderly using walkers and canes, as well as parents with strollers, employees moving wheeled carts, and people with luggage. The cast iron domes were found to be the most detectable and durable for winter maintenance using sidewalk snow plows.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos: Public Realm Section, Transportation Services

Why are Tactile Walking Surface Indicators important?

Many people have vision impairments. Some of the most common are shown below and could be helped by having tactile walking surface indicators:

Vision Without Any Impairments

Photo: Toronto Public Health

Cataract

  • Blurry / cloudy.
  • Colours muted.
  • Less contrast.

Macular Degeneration

  • Central vision is lost.
  • Distortions or blind spots.

Glaucoma

  • Peripheral vision is lost.
  • Visual field is lost.

Specifications and Construction Standards

Where can I look up additional information about this?


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