Tactile Indicators - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

1. What are Tactile Indicators?

Tactile Ground Surface Indicators (TGSIs) are a safety flooring system that are retrofit into or applied on top of walking surfaces. They are manufactured as raised truncated domes or directional bars which provide tactile information for people with vision impairment.

The raised truncated domes, also known as hazard tactile indicators, can be felt by direct contact by foot or cane and signify that there is a hazard in the accessible path of travel. Some typical hazards present in the built environment include stairways, ramps, kerb ramps, escalators, elevators and pedestrian crossings.

Directional tactile indicators are used similarly to provide cues to guide the pedestrian in a safe path of travel.

PolyTact Hazard Tactile indicator close-up
Hazard Tactile Indicators
Directional tactiles
Directional Tactile Indicators

2. Where are tactile indicators required?

Tactile Ground Surface Indicators (TGSIs) are mandatory in all new and refurbished public environments. Current Australian building codes and standards specify the minimum legal requirements for tactile indicators in order for people with disabilities to safe and independent access to public buildings, facilities and services.

Common public areas that are required to have tactile indicators installed are;

  • Train stations, tram stops and Bus stops
  • Pedestrian crossings and kerb ramps
  • Schools
  • Hospitals and health centres
  • Recreational and entertainment facilities
  • Parks
  • Public office buildings
  • Hospitality venues such as restaurants, bars and hotels
  • Shopping centres and retail stores

Tactile indicators are most commonly located at areas that pose a hazard to pedestrians or to give directional cues for safe navigation. Typical hazards that are present in public areas where tactile indicators are compulsory are;

  • Stairs
  • Ramps
  • Elevators
  • Escalators
  • Travellators
  • Pedestrian crossings
  • Kerb ramps
  • Public entry and exit points
  • Public transport access points and facilities

Protact Systems Australia offers a free consultation service where we can advise the most appropriate tactile product for your project, provide guidance for location and layout requirements, clarify Australian Standards requirements and explain how they apply to you. We also liase with the architects or the relevant council representatives to ensure the project is compliant and can be certified for public use.

3. What materials are used to manufacture tactile indicators?

A variety of materials are suitable for the manufacture of tactile indicators such as stainless steel, brass, polyurethane, rubbers, ceramics, porcelain, granite and precast concrete.

The most common tactile indicators that are installed in Australia are discrete (individual studs) stainless steel, brass and polyurethane tactiles.  These types of tactile indicators are very durable, have well-suited physical properties and are manufactured with slip resistant tactile faces that make them ideal for tactile indicator safety flooring systems.

The longevity and suitability of these materials for use as tactile indicators are due to physical properties such as high corrosion resistance and UV-stability which also prevents colour fading to ensure the tactiles continue to meet luminance contrast requirements for many years.

4. What is the difference between Warning and Directional Tactile Indicators?

Hazard Warning Tactile Indicators are defined as raised truncated domes having a sloped side to allow for a tactile indication of a hazard that is immediately adjacent to the direction of travel. These tactile indicators are required to be 35mm in diameter at the base, 25mm in diameter at the top tactile face and 4-5mm in height.

Directional Tactile Indicators are raised bars with sloped sides that act as a guide to indicate that there is a safe route parallel to the direction of travel. These tactiles are required to be 35mm in width, 285mm length and 4-5mm in height.

5. What is the difference between Discrete and Integrated Tactile Indicators?

Discrete TGSI’s are tactiles that consist of individual units, which are installed onto the pedestrian surface one at a time. The colour of the discrete tactile indicators, relative to that of the surrounding pedestrian surface, is particularly important due to luminance requirements specified in Australian Standards. Discrete tactile indicators that are made using two colours or materials are known as composite tactiles and are required to have a greater luminance contrast that discrete tactiles made up of only one colour or material.

Discrete tactile indicators are manufactured either with or without a stem.  Discrete tactile indicators with a stem require drilling into the substrate so they can be fixed by pressure fitting with a plug or by using a quality adhesive and are far less likely to dislodge in comparison to stemless tactiles.

Integrated TGSI’s are tactiles that are a series of tactile indicators that are incorporated on a backing tile that consists of the same material and colour of the tactiles. Essentially, integrated tactiles are a complete unit with tactiles integrated with the tile with a defined layout as per Australian Standards. These tactiles are relatively easy to install and are installed on a range of pedestrian surfaces to assist visually impaired persons.

PolyTact Discrete Tactiles
Discrete Polyurethane Tactiles
Yellow integrated tactile mats on asphalt
Integrated Polyurethane Tactiles

6. Does my project require tactile indicators?

Tactile indicators are a mandatory requirement for all new construction projects that have public access.

This requirement has been set out by the Building Code of Australia and the Australian Disability Discrimination Act (Section 23c), where all public buildings and facilities that are accessed by the general public must have tactile indicators that comply with Australian Standards (AS1428-2009 Design for access and mobility).

Protact Systems Australia offers a free consultation service to help ensure your project complies with current regulatory standards.

7. What tactile indicators are most suitable for my project?

It is highly recommened that polyurethane or stainless steel tactile indicators are installed for outdoor applications.

Our DuraTact tactiles are manufactured from solid 316 marine grade stainless steel, are highly resistant to corrosion and provide slip resistance that are versatile and suitable for both indoor and outdoor areas. Stainless steel tactiles are also available with a safety yellow or black coloured carborundum insert to meet luminance requirements for various substrates. They are also manufactured using a single mould rather than being welded to the shaft at the base, making them far more resistant to being dislodged due to the shaft breakage.

Our polyurethane tactiles are manufactured from a thermoplastic polymer, giving the material a range physical properties that are ideal for its application in tactile guidance systems. The high tensile, impact and sheer strength of polyurethane tactiles coupled with their resistance to UV damage and discolouration make them particularly suitable for outdoor environments.

Brass tactile indicators are particularly popular for indoor applications in hotels, pubs and cafés as they provide a stylish feature and have an appealing finish.

8. What is luminance contrast and do tactile indicators require colour contrast?

Australian Standard 1428.1-2009 defines luminance contrast as ‘the light reflected from one surface or component, compared to the light reflected from another surface or component’. The light reflective properties of a material are influenced by the degree of light absorption of different colours. This means that luminance contrast is not the difference in colour, but the difference of the light reflective properties of materials.

Generally, people with low vision are able to see colour and differentiate between different colours, however, their ability to discriminate colours may also be impaired. The luminance contrast of walkways and tactile indicators allow for people with low vision to distinguish between surfaces and gather information to detect hazards and safe paths of travel.

Tactile indicators, stair nosings and edging are all required to meet minimum luminance contrast requirements to comply with Australian Standards. It is essential that the luminance requirements are met so that the contrast in luminance of tactile indicators relative to that of the surrounding surface are distinguishable to allow for safe navigation.

Read more about Luminance Contrast

Yellow integrated tactile mats on asphalt
Compliant - Sufficient Contrast
Black tactile mats on asphalt
Non-compliant - Poor Contrast

9. What are the luminance requirements for tactile indicators?

Discrete tactile indicators require a minimum of 45% luminance contrast. These are tactiles that consist of individual units, which are installed onto the pedestrian surface one at a time.

Composite tactile indicators require a minimum of 60% luminance contrast and are similar to discrete tactile indicators, however, they are manufactured using two colours or materials.

Integrated tactile indicators require a minimum of 30% luminance contrast. These tactiles are a series of tactile indicators that are incorporated on a backing tile that consists of the same material and colour of the tactiles.

Read more about Tactile Indicator Luminance Requirements

10. How do I measure luminance contrast?

Section 2.2 of AS/NZS 1428.4.1: 2009 provides testing methods that are suitable for the measurement of the Light Reflectance Value (LRV) of a material that is used to determine the luminance contrast with respect to another material.

The LRV of a material is measured with a tristimulus colorimeter or spectrophotometer and can be performed in a laboratory or on-site. The LRV of each material are used in the Bowman-Sapolinski equation C = 125 (Y2 − Y1)/(Y1 + Y2 + 25)) to calculate their luminance contrast of the materials.

Visit safeenvironments.com.au for luminance contrast testing

Tristimulus Colorimeter
Tristimulus Colorimeter

11. What are the prices for Tactile Indicators?

The pricing of tactile indicators is determined based on the type of tactile indicator and the installation substrate. Substrates that are difficult to drill and take considerably more time to install result in greater costs.

  • Tactile indicator mats price: $100 to $250 per LM (1000mm x 600mm)
  • Polyurethane tactile indicators price: $130 to $190 per LM.
  • Stainless steel tactile indicators price: $400 to $540 per LM.
  • Brass tactile indicators price: $500 to $590 per LM.

12. What Tactile Indicators are the most durable?

Discrete Stainless Steel tactiles that are made from high quality 316 marine grade stainless steel that have been moulded from a single cast rather than welded at the base to connect the stem are the most durable tactiles available.

Brass tactile have similar properties to stainless steel. They are extremly resistance to corrosion and are very durable with a high resistance to tarnishing.

Polyurethane tactiles manufactured froma high quality, UV-resistant polyether polymer are proven to last longer than other polymers typically used for polyurethane tactiles.

13. Are Tactile Indicators used in other countries?

Tactile indicators were initially used in Japan and were developed by  Seiichi Miyake in 1967. The use of the two types of tactiles, hazard (warning) and directional (guiding), have been standardised in Japan so that the tactile cues for visually impaired persons are not misinterpreted and are uniform to avoid confusion.

Leading cities in Asia, Europe, Pan-America and Oceania initially adopted the implementation of tactile indicators to rail stations and pedestrian crossings. Many of these countries developed their own procedure for tactile installation which has prevented the implementation of a global standard for TGSI’s.

The use of tactiles gradually spread throughout the world to other countries and became widely used for pedestrian crossings, public hazards and public transport. A consensus among government bodies and self governing bodies around the world agree agree that there should be a global standard for the design, function and installation of TGSI’s in order to unify the way  tactile indicators are interpreted by all people with vision impairment across the globe.

14. Why use Tactile Indicators?

Estimates provided by Vision 2020 Australia indicates that there are over 575,000 people who experience blindness or vision impairment in 2019. About 85% of all vision impairment affect those aged 50 and over, with a dramatic increase expected due to diabetic retinopathy arising from the diabetes epidemic in Australia.

With so many people having visual impairments, Australia has developed and implemented standards and codes to allow for safe, independent and dignified travel in the built environment. Tactile Ground Surface Indicators (TGSI’s) are designed to assist pedestrians with vision impairment to navigate the urban environment safely through visual and sensory stimulus.

A wide range of hazards are present in public and it is very important that people are able to collect and interpret information for safety and navigation purposes. The minimum requirements set out by Australian Standards and codes specify a uniform way to aid people with a disability by the implementation of tactile indicators, stair nosing, braille signage and audible cues at traffic lights.

15. What are the Tactile indicators Australian Standards?

The following are the standards and codes that regulate the use and application of Tactile Ground Surface Indicators (TGSI’s), which relate to the accessibility of the built environment by people with a disability.

1) AS/NZS 1428.4.1:2009 – Design for Access and Mobility

Part 4.1: Means to assist the orientation of people with vision impairment – Tactile Ground Surface Indicators.

This Standard defines and specifies the design requirements and application of tactile indicators for new building work, ensuring safe and dignified mobility for people that are blind or are vision impaired.

The standard clearly defines the shape, size and luminance contrast requirements of warning tactile indicators and directional tactile indicators, including the requirements for compliant installation such as where and how they applied to a surface.

AS/NZS 1428.4.1:2009 can be purchased here

2) ABCB National Construction Code

Section D – Access and Eggress – Part D3.8(a)

The National Construction Code details principles and applications for  particular situations where Tactile Ground Surface Indicators are required. The code is essentially a set of technical provisions for the design and construction of buildings and other structures throughout Australia.

Volume 1 of the code includes Section D – Access and Eggress – Part D3.8(a), which is relevant to the requirements for the location for installation of Tactile Indicators.

The National Construction Code can be downloaded for free here