Tactile paving to beautify walkways and assist vision impaired pedestrians.

You guys must have noticed and praised how Kathmandu Valley’s walkways have undergone a significant transformation over the past few years. The walkways, which previously used to be with pockets of deluge or covered with dust that every walking pedestrian lifted as high as their shoulder, are now visually pleasing in a collage of multicolor tactile where even vision-impaired and limited-mobility pedestrians walk unassisted and happy. What a sight to see. However, a few vital questions remain. Are our public spaces enough friendly to assist people with vision impairment? Can our paths and passages easily lead such people to places like hospitals, government offices, schools and other important areas where the public often needs to go? Or let’s put it this way, while ‘yellow tactile paving’ has become ubiquitous around the globe, are our public sphere designers adhering navigational assistance to those dealing with vision loss while Nepal is making a great stride in infrastructure development? In this article we will explore how we can make our public spheres more inclusive, beautiful and environment-friendly through tactile paving.

Designing Visual-Impaired-Friendly Outdoor Spaces

 Everyone should be able to enjoy the outdoors. But, this is possible only when we consider the challenges of the differently abled people and design and build public spaces from their perspective. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in Nepal, around 8, 00,000/- people are dealing with vision loss. This is a significant number. On the other hand, the scenario is also changing. Today those dealing with vision loss live increasingly independent lifestyles out in the community, using their existing vision and sense. Thus, as city planners, we are responsible for providing them with technology and other assisting devices that reassure and strengthen the feeling of belongingness.  So, the vital question is how we achieve this equity?

The most easily doable thing is to include directional tactile system in our projects. Tactile is a system of textured ground surface indicators primarily installed in walkways (cross and along the roads), stations, and stairs, hospital and major public spheres to assist pedestrians who are vision impaired. They provide a distinctive surface pattern of truncated domes, cones or bars, detectable by a long cane or underfoot, which are used to alert the vision-impaired of approaching streets and hazardous surface or grade changes. There are mainly two types of tactile that serves different purposes.

Directional block tactile: Directional blocks comprises a series of raised, flat-topped bars running in the direction of pedestrian travel installed mainly on sidewalks and passages that are detected sideways by the cane or foot. It is recommended that the guidance path tactile be in a contrasting color to the surrounding area, to assist partially-sighted people. The guidance surface is recommended for use in the following circumstances:

  • Where the traditional guidance given by a standard footway between the property line and carriageway does not exist
  • Where pedestrians need to be guided around obstacles
  • Where a number of visually impaired people need to find a specific location and in transport terminals to guide people between facilities.

Who to approach for tactile paving in Nepal?   

Over the past few years, Asian Concreto has shifted the paradigm in Nepal’s landscaping with their revolutionary paving method and timeless designs. The style and technology-driven company is fiercely pursuing their motto ‘Beautify your way’. The company offers a series of unmatched products range: Concrete bricks, Concrete hollow blocks and Concrete pavers. Likewise, the company also offers Concrete pavers like: Rectangular pavers, Uni pavers, zigzag pavers, Interlock pavers, cobbles pavers, square pavers, hexagon pavers. Romba pavers grass pavers, Asian tactile (detectable warning tile). These products are manufactured from a fully-automated technology from Germany, so, unlike the traditional bricks they are more efficient in achieving seamless fitting.

Why Asian Concreto?

Asian Tactiles have robust ridges and guide the visually impaired safely to their desired destinations. The tiles give a directional guide to people walking or in wheelchairs. Following international standards, Asian Tactiles are primarily manufactured in yellow color and are used for diverse applications. Asian detectable warning tiles improve public accessibility by facilitating mobility and offering directional guidance in more prominent and unfamiliar locations. Asian detectable warning tiles enhance safety for all pedestrians by calling attention to the surrounding warning of upcoming hazards. Available Ridge and dot designs that help provide all-weather skid resistance.

Furthermore, Asian Tactiles have high resistance to mechanical damage and overcome extreme weather conditions. They are cost-effective, less time-consuming to install, can interlock easily, have excellent skid resistance and dimensional accuracy, are certified by Nepal standards, and complete all the norms. Thanks to Asian Concreto for all the beautiful walkaways we have today.

Warning Block Tactiles:  Attention patterns are a series of rows of truncated domes that maybe spaced evenly or oddly. The evenly spaced can be called a regular grid, also known as blister tactile, and the oddly spaced is called offset blister tactile—the even and odd spaced for specific purposes. Let’s look at their objectives.