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Do You Know: Tactile Warning Surfaces Are Mandatory In All Public Spaces!

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Do You Know: Tactile Warning Surfaces Are Mandatory In All Public Spaces!

Over 1.1 billion people in this world are suffering from some kind of visual impairment, ranging from minor issues to total blindness. As per the estimates, there are 500,000 blind or partially sighted Canadians.


With so many people suffering from visual impairments, we as a society have devised strategies to ensure that they have the same chances and societal respect as sighted people. One particularly useful & functional tool is a "tactile warning surface."


The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA)


As its name suggests, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is a recognized law that establishes a developing process and implementing accessibility standards. There are three major stakeholders involved -


  • Person with disabilities
  • Industry representatives
  • Government


All three work in tandem to develop accessibility standards. The government is accountable for developing accessibility criteria that organizations must meet under the AODA. Applying and practicing these standards will enable us to collaborate in making Ontario more accessible and inclusive by 2025. Though AODA is not limited to accessibility in public spaces, it advices the accessibility solutions provider to ensure the code-compliancy in public or commercial spaces. The law is diverse and covers accessibility standards for -


  • Customer service
  • Information and communications
  • Transportation
  • Employment


In this blog, we are particularly focusing on understanding the accessibility standards for public spaces. So, let's get it on!


Design of Public Spaces Standard


The AODA's Design of Public Spaces Standard states that newly created or refurbished public places must be accessible to people with visual disabilities. In simpler words, the Design of Public Spaces Standard informs about the solutions to make public spaces more safe and accessible, which includes-


  • Recreational trails and beach access routes
  • Apartments & residential buildings
  • Outdoor public eating areas like rest stops or picnic areas
  • Outdoor play spaces, like playgrounds in provincial parks and local communities
  • Shopping malls
  • Accessible parking (on and off the street)
  • Outdoor paths of travel, like sidewalks, ramps, stairs, curb ramps, rest areas and accessible pedestrian signals


Ontario Building Code, which states the regulations for the constructed building in Ontario, covers the accessibility rules for indoor spaces. But in contrast to the Ontario Building Code, the Design of Public Spaces Standard incorporates the regulations for service-related spaces like servicing counters, queuing lines, waiting spaces with permanent seating and maintenance & restoration of public spaces.


Note - Why are we even discussing the ins and outs of the AODA Act? Answer - simply because it sheds light on the fact that some specific laws and guidelines make public spaces more accessible and safer. Discussing the AODA act also justifies the title of the blog! Since AODA is an established and recognized law, thus its guidelines must be followed, eventually making the tactile warning surfaces mandatory for all public spaces.


The Design of Public Spaces Standard is Applied to?


The standard is applicable to all latest spaces and buildings, and it also applies to existing spaces that are undergoing extensive modifications. Existing places that do not require extensive reconstruction, on the other hand, are exempt.


Furthermore, all of these types of space must be accessible to the public sector and private sector organizations with fifty or more employees. Private organizations with less than fifty employees, on the other hand, are merely needed to follow the accessibility rules:


  • Trails for recreation and beach access
  • Accessible parking
  • Service counters, fixed queuing lines, and waiting spaces
  • Maintenance and restoration of public spaces


Is The Design of Public Spaces Standard Even Required?


Public spaces are around us. We witness the public space the second we walk out of our homes to go somewhere, whether down the street to chit-chat with a neighbour, to the beach for a fun day with friends, to the grocery shop, parking lot, or the children’s playground. The Design of Public Spaces Standard takes us nearer to an area where all of these excursions are possible for everyone.