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Photoluminescent Wayfinding: 7 Key Factors to Consider

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Photoluminescent Wayfinding: 7 Key Factors to Consider

Creating accessible and navigable public spaces is a key priority for architects, contractors, and facility managers in Canada. For individuals with visual disabilities, navigating unfamiliar environments poses numerous challenges. Photoluminescent wayfinding offers an effective solution to enhance accessibility and safety.


As per Canadian codes and standards like the National Building Code of Canada (NBC) and UL 1994, photoluminescent wayfinding systems are mandated in many public buildings and spaces. When thoughtfully designed and installed, these self-illuminating systems provide visual guidance similar to exit signs, even in dark conditions.


This article explores the key factors contractors, architects, and building owners must consider when specifying photoluminescent wayfinding solutions in Canada.


What is Photoluminescent Wayfinding?


Photoluminescent wayfinding uses glow-in-the-dark signs, strips, and markers to delineate paths of travel within buildings and public spaces. It guides occupants to key areas and amenities even in dark conditions.


Photoluminescent wayfinding relies on special phosphor materials that absorb, store, and emit light. These materials charge themselves using any ambient light source and then illuminate in low-light conditions without electricity.


Strategically placed photoluminescent wayfinding indicators outline safe exit routes, mark stair edges, identify amenities, and provide directional cues that enhance accessibility for those with visual disabilities.


7 Key Specification Considerations


When integrating photoluminescent wayfinding, consider:


1. Standards Compliance


Photoluminescent products must comply with various Canadian codes and standards like the NBC, AODA, OBC, NFPA, UL 1994, and provincial codes. Compliance ensures legal conformity and proper performance.


2. Locations


Determine appropriate locations for wayfinding indicators like paths of travel, stairwells, amenities, direction changes, obstructions, etc., based on standards.


3. Dimensions


Follow specified size criteria for indicatory, like minimum widths for pathway strips, minimum sign heights relative to viewing distance, etc., as per codes.


4. Installation


Ensure proper installation into substrates as per manufacturer instructions using recommended adhesives, anchors, mounts, etc.


5. Visibility


Select optimal wayfinding materials and colors to provide sufficient visual contrast against surroundings for high visibility in both light and dark conditions.


6. Materials


Choose durable, long-lasting photoluminescent materials that withstand high-traffic weather and meet all performance specifications.


7. Maintenance


Follow maintenance schedules like cleaning routines and damage inspections to ensure photoluminescent indicators retain visibility and glow intensity.


Benefits of Photoluminescent Wayfinding


Investing in compliant photoluminescent wayfinding offers key upsides:

  • Enhanced accessibility and safety for those with visual disabilities
  • Compliance with Canadian codes and standards
  • Reliable visibility even in darkness and emergencies
  • Easy integration into built environments
  • Energy efficiency since no electricity is required
  • Lower maintenance than electrical lighting
  • Highly durable and long-lasting materials
  • Customizable wayfinding elements


Photoluminescent Wayfinding Elements


Photoluminescent wayfinding uses various standardized indicators to facilitate navigation:

  • Directional Strips: Outline paths of travel on floors, walls, handrails
  • Stair Nosings: Mark staircase edges for visibility
  • Informational Signage: Room numbers, directions to amenities, etc.
  • Door Frame Markers: Highlight doorways along exit routes
  • Obstruction Markers: Mark protruding objects or hazards
  • Exit Signs: Direct occupants to the nearest exits


By incorporating compliant photoluminescent wayfinding elements, public spaces can be made safer and more accessible for the visually impaired.


Standards for Photoluminescent Wayfinding in Canada


Various Canadian regulations mandate compliant photoluminescent wayfinding solutions:

  • National Building Code of Canada - References needed for accessible design, including wayfinding.
  • CSA B651 - Provides technical specifications for wayfinding walking surface indicators.
  • UL 1994 - Details standards for Luminous Egress Path Marking systems.
  • Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) - Requires accessible public spaces in Ontario.
  • Ontario Building Code - Mandates accessibility provisions for new construction and renovations in Ontario.


Other relevant provincial building codes may also apply based on location. Following applicable standards ensures optimal wayfinding performance and legal conformity.


Maintenance of Photoluminescent Wayfinding


  • With quality installation, photoluminescent wayfinding only needs minimal maintenance:
  • Regular cleaning every 3-6 months using damp microfiber cloths to remove dirt buildup.
  • Avoid abrasive scouring pads or cleaners. Use non-alkaline, non-ammonia-based cleaners if needed.
  • Inspect frequently for damage. Replace sections promptly to avoid accessibility gaps.
  • Test glow visibility and charging weekly. Contact the supplier if issues are noticed.
  • Keep charging light sources like windows, skylights, and overhead lighting clear of obstructions.
  • Proper care will maintain visibility and glow intensity for years.


Photoluminescent Wayfinding from Tactile Solution Canada


Tactile Solutions Canada offers a selection of compliant photoluminescent wayfinding solutions like step edge nosing and running man exit signs from trusted manufacturers like Ecoglo to enhance accessibility. Our offerings are:


  • Tested to CSA, UL 1994, NBC, and provincial code requirements
  • Available in standard and custom sizes and configurations
  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor applications
  • Easy installation using recommended techniques
  • Manufactured using patented non-toxic photoluminescent pigments
  • Provide high visibility and long-lasting self-powered illumination


We provide end-to-end support, from product selection and recommendations to post-installation guidance. Contact Tactile Solution Canada today to make your next public project more accessible with energy-efficient, code-compliant photoluminescent wayfinding solutions.




What are some examples of photoluminescent wayfinding indicators?


Common indicators include directional signs, stair edge demarcations, door frame outlines, informational signage, and hazard object markings.


Where are photoluminescent wayfinding indicators required in Canada?


They are mandated in public buildings like transit hubs, offices, malls, healthcare facilities, etc., as per various provincial and national building codes.


How is photoluminescent wayfinding beneficial for people with disabilities?


It provides clear visual guidance in low-light conditions to enable safe navigation for those who have vision disabilities.


How long does the photoluminescent glow last after charging?


With 1 hour of LED ambient light charging, photoluminescent signs and markers will emit over 70 hours of visibility.


What maintenance is needed for photoluminescent wayfinding systems?


Occasional cleaning every few months, damage inspections, glow testing, and light source access maintenance are advised.