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Warning Tactile vs Guidance Tactile: What’s the Difference

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Warning Tactile vs Guidance Tactile: What’s the Difference

In public realm design, tactile walking surface indicators (TWSIs) serve a vital role in enhancing accessibility and safety for pedestrians with vision impairments. TWSIs provide standardized textured ground surfaces that convey essential navigational cues and hazard warnings through the sense of touch.


Two key types of TWSIs exist—warning tactile and guidance tactile. But what exactly sets them apart? In this blog post, we’ll explore the crucial differences between these two indispensable tactile systems.


Understanding Warning Tactile


Also known as attention or hazard tactile indicators, warning tactile signify potential dangers present along the path of travel. Warning tactile typically feature:

  • Truncated domes - Small, flattened dome-shaped bumps arranged in a square or radial pattern
  • High colour contrast - Bright safety yellow or white domes on a dark background
  • Placement at hazards - Located at platform edges, curb ramps, stairs, changing routes, etc.

Warning tactile’s textured pattern alerts pedestrians to stop, assess their surroundings, and proceed with caution. They notify individuals with vision impairments about impending drop-offs, obstacles, or changes in elevation.


Key Applications of Warning Tactiles


Some prime locations where warning tactile provide vital hazard cues include:


Transit Platforms


Warning tactile along the platform edge prevents accidental slips and falls onto the tracks.


Curb Ramps


Warning tiles at transitions from sidewalk to street caution users about the level change.


Building Entrances


Warning tiles mark door thresholds to indicate the change in elevation.




Warning patterns at stair nosings signal upcoming stairs.


Pedestrian Crossings


Warning tactile defines the crossing point before vehicle routes.




Warning tactile forewarn users of moving staircases.


Understanding Guidance Tactiles


Guidance tactile, also called directional or wayfinding tactile, provides orientation cues to guide pedestrians along appropriate circulation routes. Guidance tactile common feature:

  • Parallel bars - Elongated flat-topped bars running in the direction of travel
  • Color contrast - Visually contrasts with surrounding surfaces
  • Placement along paths - Installed along designated pedestrian walkways

The linear bars give pedestrians tactile information about the safe direction of movement and path location. Guidance or tactile wayfinding enables intuitive wayfinding, especially in large open spaces.


Key Applications of Guidance Tactile


Some key locations where guidance tactile direct and orient pedestrians include:


Transit Stations


Guidance tactile directs passengers to platforms, ticket counters, exits, etc.


Public Places


Guidance patterns guide users safely across open plazas and fields.


Office Lobbies


Guidance tactile leads from entrances to reception desks, elevators, and other areas.


Government Buildings


Guidance patterns direct users through sprawling complexes.


Comparison of Warning and Guidance Tactile


Now that we’ve covered both systems independently, let’s examine how warning and guidance tactile differ:



  • Warning tactile caution users about upcoming hazards and dangerous areas.
  • Guidance tactile guides users along designated safe pedestrian circulation paths and spaces.

Typical Configuration

  • Warning tactile commonly employs raised truncated domes in a square pattern.
  • Guidance tactile typically has elongated raised bars running parallel in the direction of travel.


  • Warning tactile is located at platform edges, curb ramps, stairs, pedestrian crossings, etc.
  • Guidance tactile is installed along pedestrian walkways and circulation routes.

Tactile Experience

  • Warning tactile signal caution and the need to assess the surroundings before proceeding.
  • Guidance tactile provides directional orientation cues for intuitive wayfinding.

Color Contrast

  • Warning tactile use bright safety yellow or white for high visibility.
  • Guidance tactile uses colors contrasting with the surroundings but avoids yellow to distinguish from warnings.

Design Guidelines for Tactile Indicators in Canada


When employing TWSIs in public realm design, it’s crucial to follow Canadian accessibility guidelines and regulations. Relevant codes and standards include:

  • Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)
  • CSA B651 - Tactile Walking Surface Indicators
  • Ontario Building Code
  • National Building Code of Canada

Key tactile design specifications involve:

  • Material and structural durability
  • Standardized dimensions and patterns
  • Beveled edges
  • High tonal and color contrast
  • Strategic placement to convey the intended tactile message

Compliant tactile not only fulfill legal obligations but also create consistently accessible and interpretable cues that enhance public safety.




What are the main types of tactile surface indicators?


The two main types are warning/attention tactile, that caution about hazards, and guidance/wayfinding tactile, which directs along safe paths.


Where are warning and guidance tactile typically used?


Warning tactile is used at platform edges, curb ramps, apartment/condo buildings, stairs, pedestrian crossings, etc. Guidance tactile is installed along walkways and circulation routes.


Can both types be used together?


Yes, warning and guidance tactile work in tandem. Guidance paths often begin/end with warning tiles indicating upcoming hazards or decision points.


What standards apply to tactile in Canada?


Relevant regulations include the AODA, CSA B651, Ontario Building Code, and National Building Code of Canada.


Let’s Create a More Accessible Environment with Tactile Solution Canada


As Canada’s premier accessibility solutions provider, Tactile Solution Canada offers a wide selection of compliant warning and guidance tactile systems from trusted brands like:

  • Armor Tile® Tactile Systems
  • Access Tile® Tactile Systems
  • Advantage® Tactile Systems
  • Eon® Tile Rubber Tactile
  • Elan® Tile Porcelain Tactile


Our tactile products are:

  • Engineered for strength, slip resistance, and heavy foot traffic
  • Customizable with various colors, sizes, and layout options
  • Compliant with all Canadian accessibility codes and standards
  • Backed by 5+ year manufacturer warranties


Let our team of experts recommend the optimal tactile systems for your next public project. Contact Tactile Solution Canada today!