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Guide to Using Color Contrast in Tactile Surface Design

26th Sep 2023

In an accessible design, color contrast plays a vital role in enhancing detectability, especially for those with visual impairments. Tactile walking surface indicators (TWSIs) rely heavily on high color contrast to make their textures visually discernible. This allows partially sighted individuals to supplement the tactile cues with visual information.


For architects, contractors, and engineers specifying tactile surfaces, understanding effective color contrast principles is key to creating accessible and compliant installations. This guide will explore the significance of color contrast, guidelines from Canadian standards, and factors to consider when selecting colors for tactile tiles and surfaces.


The Importance of Color Contrast


While tactilely discernible textures form the foundation of accessible design, sufficient color contrast takes detectability to the next level. Color contrast makes tactile surfaces more visible to those with partial sight, allowing them to spot upcoming changes in the walking surface and respond appropriately.


The high color contrast draws people's attention to the tactile surface, whether it is a warning indicator or a directional path. This prompts individuals to be more observant of their surroundings when they detect the shift in visual appearance between the tiles and adjacent surfaces.


For example, bright yellow truncated domes on a sidewalk curve ramp strongly contrast with the grey concrete pavement. This alerts a pedestrian with low vision to assess their surroundings and identify the upcoming transition from sidewalk to street.


By making textures “pop” visually, strong color contrast enhances safety in public realm navigation for all individuals, especially those who rely on multiple senses beyond just touch.


Standards for Tactile Surface Color Contrast


In Canada, recognized standards guide appropriate color contrast for tactile walking surface indicators. These include:

  • CSA B651: States detectable warning surfaces must contrast by at least 70% with adjacent walking surfaces in light reflectance value (LRV) or visual contrast.
  • AODA: Requires at least 70% LRV contrast between surface materials along accessible routes and the surrounding surfaces.
  • ISO 23599: Specifies TWSIs have a light reflectance value of at least 30 points difference from adjoining surfaces.


Additionally, certain colors are designated for specific tactile surface types by convention and best practice, including:

  • Truncated domes: Safety Yellow
  • Directional indicators: Brick red, yellow, black
  • Hazard markings: Safety yellow, black

Factors to Consider for Tactile Surface Color Selection


When choosing colors for a tactile installation, consider the following:


1. LRV Contrast


Pick colors with at least 70% light reflectance value contrast per accessibility standards. Lighter colors against darker substrates provide the most substantial contrast.


2. Color Associations


Stick to standardized colors - like safety yellow for warning domes - that align with universal design conventions.


3. Visibility in Different Lighting


Select colors providing sufficient contrast in daytime and night lighting for maximum discernibility. Light-on-dark often performs better in low light.


4. Surrounding Materials and Finishes


Aim for hues contrasting with adjacent material finishes like concrete, stone, metal, carpet, etc., to make the tactile surface clearly distinguishable.


5. Aesthetic Harmony


Colors should stand out but complement the overall visual cohesion design scheme. Neutrals like grey and beige are easily paired.


6. Functional Environment


In outdoor settings, increased contrast is key for visibility under varied conditions. Indoors, softer contrasts may suffice, depending on context.


7. Size of Installation


Higher contrast is beneficial for smaller installations, whereas larger contiguous tactile surfaces already stand out, requiring less contrast.


8. Standard Availability


Select from colors that are readily available from manufacturers to avoid custom color minimums and long lead times.


Tactile Solutions with Effective Color Contrast


Here are some examples of tactile solutions using color contrasts that enhance accessibility:


Cast Iron Tactile Tiles


These heavy-duty metal tiles come in a bold matte yellow that strikingly contrasts against concrete sidewalks, cinder block walls, asphalt roads, and other common exterior materials. The strong dark-on-light contrast ensures high visibility outdoors.


Advantage Tactile Systems One Plate with Domes


This stainless-steel plate with embedded truncated domes has a stamped textured finish that makes it pop against floor surfaces. The grey metallic color contrasts nicely both indoors and out against materials like tile, terrazzo, concrete, granite, wood, etc.


Detectable Warning Porcelain Tile


For upscale interior installations, these porcelain pavers are available in softer earth tones like cultured grey, vogue black, and sandstone that sufficiently contrast with stone, wood, or neutral floor tiles. The organic hues blend in aesthetically while remaining discernible.


Custom Contrast Tactile Solutions


Many tactile products can be custom color-matched or manufactured using specific polymers or resins on request to achieve the required color contrast against planned surfaces. Consulting manufacturers or suppliers is advised to develop optimal color-contrasted solutions for unique projects.


Standards like CSA B651 also recommend installing a test placement area to check if the specified color contrast meets minimum light reflectance value requirements through on-site verification before full-scale installation.


Using Color Thoughtfully


While maximizing contrast for accessibility, aesthetics and design harmony should not be sacrificed. This balances visibility needs with aesthetic vision. By thoughtfully incorporating contrast and color, tactile surfaces can enhance function without compromising form. The right colors elevate safety intuitively.


Tactile Solutions from Tactile Solution Canada


As Canada’s premier accessibility solutions provider, Tactile Solution Canada offers a complete selection of tactile walking surface indicators from leading brands designed to meet all major codes and standards in Canada.


Our extensive range includes detectable warning surfaces, directional guidance tiles, and photoluminescent stair nosings in high-contrast colors created in consultation with accessibility experts.


With a client-focused approach, our team provides guidance at every stage - from initial color selection to onsite quality checks - to deliver compliant tactile installations that are impactful, functional, and harmonious.


To learn more about engineering optimal color contrast for your next project or to view our range of accessible tactile solutions, contact the experts at Tactile Solution Canada today!




What is the minimum color contrast required between tactile surfaces and surroundings?


A light reflectance value (LRV) contrast of at least 70% is recommended per Canadian accessibility standards like the CSA B651.


How does color contrast make tactile surfaces more detectable?


High color contrast enhances the visibility of tactile textures for those with partial sight, allowing for warning indications to be both felt underfoot and seen.


Which colors are typically used for warning tactile and directional tactile surfaces?


Standard colors are safety yellow for warning domes or tiles and brick red, yellow, or black for directional bars or indicators.


Should there be color consistency across different locations?


Yes, colors should conform to universal conventions. For example, yellow domes indicate hazards everywhere. Consistency aids recognition.


How can color contrast be verified on-site?


Conducting test placements and using a color contrast analyzer tool will validate if the contrast meets reflectance value requirements.

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Top Considerations When Planning Tactile Wayfinding in Public Spaces!

26th Sep 2023

Creating accessible and navigable public spaces is a crucial responsibility for urban planners, architects, and building owners. For individuals with visual disabilities, seamlessly orienting and traversing unfamiliar environments poses daily challenges.


Thoughtfully designed tactile wayfinding offers invaluable sensory cues that empower visually impaired citizens to navigate public spaces confidently and independently. As Canada's leading provider of tactile wayfinding solutions, we outline key considerations for planning inclusive tactile wayfinding in public spaces.


Understanding Tactile Wayfinding


Tactile wayfinding refers to the use of standardized textured ground surface indicators that assist pedestrians who are blind or have low vision by providing directional cues and orientation information. These indicators, commonly called wayfinding tiles or tactile guidance paths, contain raised bars, cones, or grooved patterns installed along pedestrian circulation routes.


By using their cane or feet to detect these tactile cues, visually impaired individuals can discern pathways and amenity locations. Tactile wayfinding enables accessible, independent mobility.


The Importance of Public Space Wayfinding


For citizens with visual disabilities, navigating unfamiliar, complex public environments can be daunting. Lack of accessible wayfinding hampers their mobility and prevents equal access to public services and recreational spaces.


Thoughtfully designed tactile wayfinding fosters independence and confidence by providing an intuitive navigation channel. By consulting standards like the CSA B651 and integrating compliant wayfinding tiles in spaces like transit hubs, museums, parks, and malls, planners enable seamless accessibility.


Top Considerations for Public Spaces Tactile Wayfinding


When planning tactile wayfinding systems, consider the following key factors:


Spaces Being Connected


Analyze how key origin and destination points within the public space will be linked via accessible pathways marked by tactile indicators. For example, wayfinding tiles can trace routes from transit station entrances to ticket booths, platforms, and exits.


User Circulation Patterns: 


Observe user movement patterns within the space to determine appropriate wayfinding tile placement and routing. Mark the most logical and accessible routes connecting key user areas.


Compliance with Standards: 


Adhere to relevant provincial and national accessibility standards and building codes, including the AODA and CSA B651, which provide tactile wayfinding specifications.


Consistency Throughout Site: 


Maintain consistency in wayfinding tile color, material, texture pattern, and installation methodology throughout the site for cohesiveness and usability.


Intuitive Orientation: 


Wayfinding tiles should enable intuitive orientation by linking together in a logical layout. Cues for direction changes, such as truncated domes at 90-degree turns, are helpful.


Clear Sight Lines: 


Avoid visual clutter and obstacles along tactile routes. Maintain clear sight lines for individuals using canes to optimize usability.


Connections Between Spaces: 


Seamlessly connect tactile wayfinding paths between indoor and outdoor areas and across changes in elevation using ramps, elevators etc.


Materials Selection: 


Choose wayfinding tiles made of durable, slip-resistant materials suitable for heavy pedestrian traffic. Popular options are vitrified polymer composites, metals, porcelain, and ceramic.


Contrast and Detectability: 


Select tile colors that contrast surrounding surfaces for optimal visibility. Prioritize bright, vibrant colors and lower-glare finishes.




Assess wayfinding tile maintainability, modularity, and replacement requirements. Opt for medium to long lifespans of 10-25+ years.


Acoustic Impact: 


Consider potential underfoot noise from wayfinding tiles. Porcelain, ceramic, and rubber tiles offer quieter alternatives.


Engage Visually Impaired Users: 


Consult Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) representatives and visually impaired citizens to gain feedback on wayfinding design.


Expert Guidance: 


Leverage guidance from accessibility consultants and manufacturers like Tactile Solutions with extensive tactile wayfinding expertise.


Seamless Accessibility for All Canadians: 


By proactively planning tactile wayfinding infrastructure, urban designers and architects can seamlessly transform public spaces to enable accessibility for all citizens, regardless of ability. The considerations above, combined with engagement from visually impaired users and guidance from experts like Tactile Solutions, are key to creating accessible environments.


Some examples of effective public space tactile wayfinding include:


  • Transit Stations: Tactile tiles with bright contrasting colors and parallel bars guide passengers along platforms to boarding zones, ticket counters, information kiosks, etc. Directional domes indicate 90-degree turns towards exits and connecting routes.


  • Museums & Galleries: Grooved rubber tiles trace pathways through expansive gallery spaces, passing key exhibits and amenities. Porcelain tiles with inlaid arrows provide directional cues leading to specific galleries or the lobby/cafe.


  • Parks & Public Squares: Durable exterior-grade tactile tiles with high slip resistance mark safe pedestrian routes across parks, delineating open spaces. Bars, cones, and safety yellow truncated domes indicate rest areas, parking, footbridges, etc.


  • Shopping Malls: Tactile surfaces help shoppers navigate from entrances to shopping aisles, escalators, elevators, and amenities like washrooms, eateries, and customer care.


By consulting accessibility standards and proactively planning tactile wayfinding infrastructure, stakeholders can transform public realm spaces into beacons of accessibility that foster mobility and independence for all citizens.


Tactile Wayfinding Solutions from Tactile Solutions Canada


As Canada's premier accessibility solutions provider, Tactile Solutions partners with urban planners, architects, and property managers to integrate compliant tactile wayfinding systems that make public spaces seamlessly accessible.


Our extensive product range includes industry-leading wayfinding tiles from trusted brands like:

  • Access Tile® Cast-In-Place Wayfinding Bars - Polymer tiles embedded in concrete walkways.
  • Access Tile® Surface Applied Wayfinding Bars - Affix tactile polymer tiles onto existing surfaces
  • Advantage® Tactile Systems Single Bars - Individual stainless steel bars screwed into flooring
  • Armor Tile® Tactile System - Heavy-duty cast-in-place tactile tiles for outdoors
  • Elan® Porcelain Wayfinding Tile - Smooth porcelain tiles with inlaid directional arrows
  • Eon® Tile Rubber Wayfinding Bars - Flexible exterior rubber tiles with bars

Designed for simple installation, weather resistance, and long-lasting performance, our wayfinding products transform public spaces into beacons of accessibility.


Frequently Asked Questions


Q. What are some examples of public spaces that require tactile wayfinding?


A. Key public spaces that call for compliant tactile wayfinding are transit hubs, civic plazas, shopping malls, parks, sidewalks, entertainment venues, tourism sites, and government/institutional facilities.


Q. How does tactile wayfinding benefit people with vision disabilities?


A.It provides a safe navigation channel for the blind or visually impaired to orient themselves and traverse spaces independently via reliable underfoot cues.


Q. What are the main accessibility standards for public space tactile wayfinding in Canada?

A.The key regulations are the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), CSA B651 Standard on Barrier-Free Design, and various provincial building codes.


Q.How can tactile wayfinding tiles be installed?


A.Tiles can be surface-mounted on existing flooring using adhesive or mechanical fasteners. They can also be embedded into fresh concrete or asphalt for new construction.




Tactile wayfinding infrastructure thoughtfully planned in accordance with leading standards creates accessible and navigable public realm facilities. By consulting experts like Tactile Solutions Canada and engaging visually impaired citizens, urban designers can employ compliant wayfinding tiles to transform public spaces into beacons of accessibility and inclusivity.

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Liability Risks: Why Warning Tactile Code Compliance Matters

26th Sep 2023

In recent years, installing (TWSIs) has become an indispensable part of designing public spaces and facilities in Canada. TWSIs, also known as detectable warning surfaces, are standardized textured ground surfaces that convey critical information to pedestrians through touch and sound cues. They are vital in enhancing accessibility and safety for all users, especially those with visual impairments.


However, even with the growing awareness of TWSIs' importance, many public and private spaces remain non-compliant regarding required tactile installations. This non-adherence poses severe liability risks for property owners, facility managers, contractors, and architects if accidents or injuries occur due to the lack of proper tactile warnings.


This blog explores the importance of tactile code compliance in Canada and outlines key liability risks for stakeholders regarding TWSIs.


The Need for Tactile Code Compliance


In Canada, tactile installation requirements are mandated by various federal, provincial, and municipal regulations, most notably:

  • Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)
  • Ontario Building Code
  • CSA B651 Standards on Accessible Design
  • Municipal bylaws and accessibility policies

These regulations require TWSIs to be installed in some public regions to warn pedestrians with vision impairments about potential hazards like stairs, curbs, platform edges, intersections, etc. Compliance is crucial from both an ethical and legal standpoint.


By failing to adhere to tactile installation codes, property owners and constructors deny persons with disabilities their right to accessible infrastructure, putting them at risk of accidents. It reflects poorly on an organization’s commitment to inclusivity and universal design.


Key Liability Risks of Non-Compliance


Violating mandated tactile installation codes and standards poses several significant legal risks:


1. Trip and Fall Hazards


Lack of required TWSI installations means hazards like unexpected stairs, curbs, ramps, etc., go undetected. This significantly increases the chances of trip and fall accidents for pedestrians with vision loss. Any resulting injuries can lead to costly litigation and compensation claims against property owners.


2. Code Violation Penalties


Breaching provincial and municipal accessibility legislation can attract heavy fines and penalties. For example, violating the AODA can incur fines of up to $100,000 per day for organizations, plus potential damage suits.


3. Reputational Damage


Legal penalties combined with media coverage of accidents can also lead to substantial reputational damage for owners, negatively impacting property values, leasing, and public perception.


4. Retrofitting Costs


If scandals or accidents occur, there will be eventual costs for retroactive tactile installation and upgrades to become compliant. Taking a proactive approach right from the planning and construction phase is wiser.


How to Reduce Liability Through Compliance?


Here are some tips to ensure tactile code compliance and mitigate risks:

  • Consult regulations like the OBC, AODA Design of Public Spaces Standards, CSA B651, etc., during the design and planning of any public facilities, like malls, parks, transit platforms, etc., to determine the exact tactile installation requirements.
  • Hire consultants who are experts in accessible design and tactile systems to conduct thorough audits and develop a compliance strategy tailored to the project.
  • Select high-quality TWSI products that meet the highest standards from reputable providers like Tactile Solution Canada. Opt for cast-in-place or embedded solutions for maximum durability and safety.
  • Ensure proper installation by certified professionals following the regulations and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Perform routine maintenance checks on installed TWSIs to identify any damage or wear and tear requiring replacement.
  • Provide adequate safety warnings and barricades during maintenance or repair tasks at public facilities so that inaccessible areas don’t lead to accidents.
  • Keep informed about changes or updates to local tactile installation codes and update existing facilities accordingly.
  • Develop a proactive maintenance and replacement schedule for installed TWSIs based on expected wear from foot traffic.


Key Tactile Codes and Standards in Canada


Constructors, designers, and property managers need to be well-versed with Canada’s major tactile compliance codes:


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)


The AODA is a landmark accessibility legislation in Ontario that mandates the installation of TWSIs at public facilities. The Design of Public Spaces Standards under AODA provides detailed technical specifications on required tactile installations at various public spaces like sidewalks, crosswalks, transit platforms, recreational trails, play spaces, etc. It also imposes heavy fines for non-compliance.


Ontario Building Code


The OBC legally governs construction across Ontario. Section 3.8 on barrier-free design prescribes TWSI requirements for buildings, including specifications on types of TWSIs and correct locations for installation like stairs, curb ramps, pedestrian crossings, platform edges, etc. It sets the minimum legally required tactile installations.


CSA B651 Standards on Accessible Design


Canada's nationally recognized B651 standard provides comprehensive specifications on TWSIs. It sets optimal technical requirements for tactile surface dimensions, materials, color/tonal contrast, placement locations, etc., for enhanced accessibility. While voluntary, the CSA standard represents industry best practices.


Municipal Codes and Policies


Municipal governments like Toronto also impose bylaws and facility accessibility policies mandating and regulating the installation of TWSIs at public facilities within their jurisdiction. These codes should be consulted for any localized tactile requirements.


Consequences of Legal Action


In recent years, multiple high-profile lawsuits and human rights complaints have been filed against public and private property owners related to the lack of mandated TWSIs leading to accidents and injuries.


Such outcomes illustrate the enormous risk posed by non-compliance with tactile installation codes. Being proactive about the proper tactile application per all relevant regulations can help avoid tragic accidents while demonstrating a solid commitment to creating infrastructure that is accessible and inclusive to all.




What are some common locations that require tactile installation as per Canadian codes?


Some typical locations requiring compliant TWSI application per codes like the AODA, OBC, and CSA B651 are stairs, curb ramps, pedestrian crossings, transit platforms, escalators, hotel room balconies, playgrounds, recreational trails, parking lots, food courts, etc.

What happens if a facility is found non-compliant with mandated tactile installation codes?


Consequences include heavy fines of up to $100,000 daily, lawsuits and damage claims by injured persons, orders to retrofit inaccessible facilities, negative publicity, and reputational damage.


Who is responsible for ensuring tactile code compliance?


Liability extends to all parties involved in the design and construction process, including property owners, facility managers, developers, architects, contractors, and construction companies.


What options are available for installing complaint TWSIs?


Typical solutions include metal, durable polymer, rubber, porcelain, or concrete TWSIs installed via surface-mounting, embedding into fresh concrete, replacing existing tiles with compliant tactile tiles, etc.


Stay code-compliant & Accessible


By selecting high-quality tactile products from reputable suppliers like Tactile Solution Canada, having proper installation by trained professionals, and conducting routine maintenance checks and prompt replacement when any wear/damage is detected, facilities in Canada can stay accessible, durable, and code-compliant over time.

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Canadian Disability Statistics: Understanding the Need for Accessible Infrastructure

26th Sep 2023

Canada prides itself on being an inclusive, welcoming, and accessible society for all. However, for over 6 million Canadians living with disabilities, navigating the built environment poses daily challenges. Disability statistics in Canada reveal the pressing need to create more accessible, barrier-free infrastructure and public spaces.


This blog delves into the latest data on Canadians with disabilities and explains how it underscores the importance of investing in accessible design, including tactile guidance systems and hazard warnings. We will also explore how Tactile Solution Canada’s products can equip builders, architects, and property managers to meet accessibility obligations.


Disability in Canada - A Statistical Snapshot


Recent data from Statistics Canada provides insights into the prevalence of disability across the Canadian population:


  • In 2017, 6.2 million (22%) Canadians aged 15 and older had a disability. This represents about 1 in 5 individuals.
  • Women (24%) were more likely than men (20%) to report having a disability.
  • The most common disability types related to pain, flexibility, mobility, and mental health conditions.
  • Among youth aged 15-24 years, mental health disabilities were the most prevalent at 8%.
  • Among working-age adults (25-64 years), 59% of persons with disabilities were employed versus 80% of those without disabilities.
  • Of persons with disabilities not working or in school (ages 25-64 years), 39% or 645,000 individuals had the potential to work.
  • Senior citizens aged 65+ had the highest disability rate at 38%. Age-related visual and mobility impairments were common.


This cross-section of Canadian society faces diverse functional limitations in seeing, hearing, mobility, flexibility, dexterity, pain, learning, mental health, memory, and more. These impede their full participation in society.


Barriers in Public Realms


For persons with disabilities, the design of infrastructure and public spaces frequently poses barriers to accessibility:


  • Perceptual Barriers - Signage, tactile cues, announcements, etc., may not effectively communicate information for those with sensory disabilities.
  • Physical Barriers - Lack of ramps, elevators, accessible routes, etc., impedes entry and mobility within built environments.
  • Attitudinal Barriers - Societal attitudes and assumptions limit opportunities and accessibility for Canadians with disabilities.
  • Technological Barriers - Digital systems, tools, and interfaces often overlook accessibility, excluding persons with disabilities.


Such barriers infringe on rights, isolate citizens, and exclude valuable perspectives. They highlight the need for accessibility-focused design.


Key Data Highlights Need for Accessible Infrastructure


The disability data presents a compelling case for accessibility in Canada:


  • With over 6 million Canadians facing functional limitations, the market need for accessible design is immense. Builders and property managers can tap into this segment.
  • As the population ages, age-related disabilities will rise. Accessibility is key to keeping aging Canadians active, engaged, and independent.
  • With lower employment rates among working-age adults with disabilities versus those without, accessibility can help remove barriers to education and employment.
  • Youth with disabilities need accessible infrastructure to fully participate in social activities, education, sports, recreation, and community life.
  • Women experience higher disability rates in Canada, underlining the need for a gender-conscious approach to accessibility.
  • Disabilities encompass a wide spectrum. Accessible design must address diverse needs, capacities, and requirements.


Mandating Accessibility Nationwide


Federal, provincial, and municipal regulations mandate accessibility and barrier-free design in infrastructure projects across Canada:


  • Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)
  • Ontario Building Code
  • National Building Code of Canada
  • Nova Scotia Accessibility Act
  • Manitoba Accessibility Act
  • CSA Standards on Barrier-Free Design
  • Municipal bylaws


These laws require public spaces and buildings to integrate accessibility features like ramps, wayfinding aids, tactile surfaces, and visual cues.


Tactile Solutions for Accessible Public Realms


As a pioneering provider of tactile solutions in Canada, Tactile Solution partners with builders, architects, and property managers to integrate accessibility into public spaces and building projects.


Our product portfolio includes essential tactile systems like:


  • Access Tile® - Composite polymer tactile tiles ideal for indoor and outdoor use. Available as surface-applied and embedded cast-in-place.
  • Armor Tile® - Heavy-duty tactile tiles withstand harsh weather and hefty loads. Multiple tile options for diverse applications.
  • Advantage® Tiles - Extremely durable stainless steel and cast-iron tactile tiles. Withstand decades of high footfall and vehicles.
  • Eon Tile® - Made with durable and flexible rubber, these tactile systems come in both truncated domes and wayfinding categories.
  • Elan Tile® - These porcelain tactile indicators are stylish and durable at the same time and can be used for interior as well as outer applications.
  • Ecoglo® Photoluminescent Products - Exit signs, stair nosings, and directional signage provide critical visual guidance in emergencies.


These solutions promote accessibility and universal design through:


  • Hazard Warnings - Tactile indicators alert pedestrians to potential dangers like platform edges or busy intersections.
  • Directional Guidance - Tactile wayfinding tiles guide users safely along intended paths through public areas.
  • Visibility - High color/brightness contrast aids visibility for those with low vision.
  • Emergency Egress - Photoluminescent signs illuminate exit routes when lighting fails.


By investing in compliant tactile design, forward-thinking builders and property managers create welcoming environments where all citizens can participate fully.




What are some key accessibility regulations in Canada?


Major regulations mandating accessibility compliance for infrastructure projects include the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), provincial building codes, CSA accessibility standards, and municipal bylaws.


What are some examples of disabilities that impact navigating public spaces?


Disabilities that can impede accessing public realms include vision loss, hearing impairments, mobility limitations requiring wheelchairs or walkers, chronic pain, and cognitive disabilities.


How do tactile solutions enhance accessibility?


Tactile guidance paths and hazard indicators provide critical navigation cues and warnings through touch and visual contrast to pedestrians with vision loss.


Where are tactile walking surface indicators required?


Key locations requiring compliant tactile tiles or pavers are transit platforms, sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, building entrances, stairs, parks, and parking areas.


How can Canadian disability data inform investment in accessible infrastructure?


The prevalence of disability across age groups and genders indicates a widespread need for accessibility. This data supports the business case for organizations to invest in inclusive design.


Let's Build an Accessible Canada Together


The need for accessible infrastructure is clear - over 6 million Canadians face barriers when navigating the built environment. Universal design benefits us all.


As Canada works towards its 2040 accessibility goals, organizations like Tactile Solution Canada equip stakeholders with practical solutions to transform spaces. Contact us today to make accessibility a reality.

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Warning Tactile vs Guidance Tactile: What’s the Difference

6th Sep 2023

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!

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The Evolution of Tactile Surfaces: A Look Back at Milestones

6th Sep 2023

Tactile surfaces such as detectable warning pavers, tiles, and plates serve a vital purpose in enhancing accessibility and navigation for individuals with visual disabilities. The humble beginnings of these textured ground indicators have blossomed into an indispensable infrastructure component that promotes mobility and independence.


In this blog, we'll explore some key milestones in the evolutionary journey of tactile surfaces. Understanding this history provides insight into how these accessible design elements came to transform public spaces.


The Origins of Tactile Paving


The genesis of tactile paving traces back to post-World War II Japan. After the war, Japan's cities saw an influx of veterans with visual disabilities. This highlighted the need for urban design features to assist navigation.


In 1965, Seiichi Miyake, an engineering student at Okayama University, developed an innovative solution - textured blocks with raised domes and bars detectable by foot and cane. His invention was inspired by Braille blocks.


1965: The World's First Tactile Paving


In 1965 itself, Miyake's tactile blocks were installed for the first time at a street crossing in Okayama City. This pioneering installation near a school for the blind kickstarted the tactile paving revolution.


Soon after, the textured blocks spread across Japan at pedestrian crossings to promote safety. Their runaway success led to the adoption of national railways across transit platforms nationwide.


1985: A Formalized System in Japan


By 1985, tactile paving was ubiquitous in Japan. That year, it was formally christened “Hazard Guide for the Visually Impaired.”

  • Standardized national specifications designated two types of blocks:
  • Warning Blocks: Small bumps to caution about hazards
  • Directional Blocks: Long bars to guide pedestrian flow

Color coding also helped users interpret different blocks. This formalized tactile system accelerated accessible urban growth across Japan.


1990s: Internationalization of Tactile Paving


In the 1990s, tactile paving expanded beyond Japan, becoming recognized internationally as an indispensable tool for accessible design.


The ADA in the US, Australia’s Disability Discrimination Act, and the UK’s Department for Transport helped proliferate tactile paving by setting standards.


By the late 1990s, tactile blocks were ubiquitous across transit platforms and pedestrian walkways in major cities across North America, Europe, and Oceania.


2000s: Widespread Adoption in Canada


Canada actively adopted tactile systems starting in the 1990s across transportation infrastructure. In the 2000s, integration spread to the wider public realm via provincial and municipal accessibility laws.


The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) currently mandates tactile installation in all new and renovated public spaces across the province.


Present Day: An Entrenched Global Accessibility Solution


Today, tactile paving is entrenched worldwide as an indispensable accessibility solution. With the population aging, chronic illnesses, and mobility device usage increasing, the importance of tactile surfaces grows each year.


Tactile surfaces allow users of all abilities to access outdoor recreation, transit systems, pedestrian routes, businesses, and public services independently and safely.


The evolution of voluntary accessible design into enforceable regulations and standards has helped drive universal adoption. Tactile surfaces now seamlessly blend into urban landscapes as an intuitive accessibility aid.


The Significance of Tactile Surfaces


Tactile solutions like detectable warning tiles and plates are vital in making infrastructure accessible for multiple reasons:


1. Accessibility


Tactile surfaces allow people with visual disabilities to navigate safely using senses like touch and hearing. The textured cues provide spatial awareness, directionality, and hazard warnings.


2. Mobility


Tactile plates transform unfamiliar, complex environments into navigable spaces by providing a mental map. This allows for exploration with confidence, independence, and security.


3. Safety


Tactile patterns placed strategically help users detect and avoid dangers like platform edges, busy intersections, and stairs through tactile feedback.


4. Compliance


Installing compliant tactile surfaces satisfies legal obligations under disability legislation like the AODA, ADA, and building codes.


5. Consistency


Standardized installation ensures uniformity in how warnings and cues are conveyed across regions. This consistency enables intuitive interpretation.


6. Active Living


By facilitating accessible navigation, tactile surfaces encourage fuller participation in community life, from parks to libraries to arenas.


Tactile Surfaces Requirements in Canada


In Canada, tactile installations must adhere to accessibility legislation and standards. Key regulations include:


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)

  • CSA B651 - Sets tactile design specifications
  • Ontario Building Code
  • National Building Code of Canada & other regional and municipal requirements

Tactile surfaces must meet requirements related to:

  • Material strength and durability
  • Standardized sizing and spacing of domes/bars
  • High color contrast
  • Beveled edges
  • Proper placement to convey the intended message
  • Looking Ahead

Thanks to inclusive design advocacy, rigorous testing, and human-centered innovation, tactile surfaces have evolved into an indispensable component of accessibility.


Ongoing research aims to enhance detectability and aesthetics using technologies like RFID-embedded and LED-integrated tiles. As populations age and diversify, the need for accessible infrastructure only grows.


Tactile wayfinding and hazard warning solutions continue advancing in lockstep with progressive social values of equity, mobility, and independence.


The future looks bright for tactile surfaces to play an ever-greater role in crafting barrier-free, welcoming communities that leave no one behind. The universal adoption of these inclusive design elements is a mark of societies progressing towards accessibility for all citizens.




Who invented tactile paving?


Tactile paving was invented in 1965 by Japanese engineering student Seiichi Miyake, who was inspired by Braille.


Where was tactile paving first used?


The first ever use of tactile paving was in 1965 at a street crossing in Okayama City, Japan, near a school for the blind.


When did tactile paving reach North America?


Tactile paving was introduced in North America in the 1990s after the ADA and Disability Discrimination Act set detectable warning standards.


What materials are used for tactile paving?


Common tactile paving materials are durable polymers, metals, porcelain, rubber, concrete, and engineered composite plastics.


How do tactile surfaces enhance accessibility?


Tactile surfaces provide standardized tactile and audio cues to help visually impaired pedestrians detect hazards, navigate safely, avoid disorientation, and travel independently.


Accessible Textures with Tactile Solutions Canada


As Canada's leading tactile solutions provider, Tactile Solutions Canada offers premium products to make infrastructure accessible. Our extensive range includes:


Detectable Warning Tiles

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

Wayfinding Tiles

  • Access Tile® Wayfinding Bars
  • Armor Tile® Wayfinding Bars
  • Advantage® Wayfinding Bars
  • Eon® Tile Wayfinding Bars
  • Elan® Tile Wayfinding Bars

Our tactile tiles offer:

  • Safety, accessibility, and hazard detectability
  • Customizable sizes, textures, and color contrasts
  • Compliance with Canadian accessibility standards
  • Durability for heavy foot traffic
  • 5+ year manufacturer warranties

Let our team of experts recommend optimal solutions for your next public space project. Contact Tactile Solutions Canada today!

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7 Benefits of Photoluminescent Wayfinding Solutions in Public Spaces

6th Sep 2023

Navigating expansive public spaces like transit stations, stadiums, and shopping malls can be challenging, especially for individuals with visual disabilities. Photoluminescent wayfinding solutions provide illuminated visual cues that guide users safely and intuitively toward key locations and exits, even in pitch-dark conditions.


As per the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), integrating proper wayfinding systems is crucial for creating accessible public realms. Photoluminescent wayfinding leverages glow-in-the-dark technology to provide continuous non-visual orientation when the lights are out.


Let’s explore the top 7 benefits of photoluminescent wayfinding solutions:


1. 24/7 Visual Orientation


Photoluminescent wayfinding absorbs and stores ambient light, emitting a bright glow when darkness falls. The luminescence lasts for hours, providing a clear path even after the lights are switched off. This 24/7 visibility aids navigation at any time of day or night.


2. Reliability During Power Failures


As photoluminescent wayfinding is self-illuminated, it remains fully functional even if electricity fails. The autonomous glow provides reliable visual orientation when exit signs and indoor lighting shut off due to blackouts or emergencies.


3. Compliance with Canadian Building Codes


Photoluminescent wayfinding adheres to crucial codes like the National Building Code of Canada (NBC) and Canadian Standards Association (CSA) standards for egress markings. Using compliant systems protects from penalties and lawsuits.


4. Visibility in Smoke or Darkness


The bright glow pierces through smoke, fog, and pitch darkness. This clear visibility enables safe evacuation and navigation when visibility is near-zero during fires or disasters.


5. Intuitive Wayfinding for Blind or Low Vision


Tactile directional cues guide blind or low-vision individuals along appropriate circulation paths, allowing independent movement through unfamiliar public spaces.


6. Zero Energy Consumption


With no need for electricity or batteries, photoluminescent wayfinding is energy-efficient and eco-friendly. This saves energy costs over traditional electrically powered signs.


7. Seamless Integration into Architecture


Available in customizable sizes and colors, photoluminescent strips and markers blend into the interior aesthetic. The discreet integration provides visibility without compromising interior design.


Photoluminescent Wayfinding Products by Tactile Solutions Canada


Tactile Solutions Canada offers a wide range of photoluminescent wayfinding products from trusted manufacturers like Ecoglo. Our top products include:

Ecoglo Photoluminescent Running Man Exit Signs – Highly visible directional exit signs to mark egress pathways.


Photoluminescent Stair Edge Nosing Glued or Screwed to Existent Surface or Put into Wet Concrete – Marking of staircase edges for improved visibility and safety.


With over a decade of experience supplying wayfinding solutions in Canada, we are the go-to experts on code-compliant photoluminescent systems. Our team provides product recommendations tailored to your unique application and specifications.




How are photoluminescent wayfinding signs powered?


They absorb and store ambient light, requiring no batteries or electricity. The stored energy is emitted as a glow in the darkness.


Where are photoluminescent wayfinding solutions required?


Large public spaces like transit hubs, theaters, stadiums, offices, malls, and apartments need compliant wayfinding systems.


How long does the glow last?


Most systems glow up to 70 hours on a 30-60-minute charge. The glow duration depends on the light exposure and material efficiency.


Does photoluminescent wayfinding require frequent replacement?


Quality photoluminescent wayfinding solutions can have a lifespan exceeding 25 years with minimal deterioration.


What are the benefits of photoluminescent wayfinding?


It provides 24/7 visibility, reliability during power failures, code compliance, smoke visibility, intuitive access for blind and low-vision users, and energy efficiency.


Light the Way with Photoluminescent Wayfinding


Photoluminescent wayfinding solutions enable business managers, owners, architects, and contractors to make public spaces optimally navigable for all citizens, especially those with disabilities. By investing in compliant systems, you can create an infrastructure that is accessible, inclusive, and perceptible regardless of abilities or surrounding conditions.


As a full-service Canadian supplier of photoluminescent signage and AODA, CSA, ISO, and IFC code-compliant (TWSI) tactile tiles, Tactile Solutions Canada is your ideal partner for wayfinding projects. Our team of experts makes compliance simple by recommending properly tested and approved products tailored specifically for your application's size, aesthetics, codes, and accessibility needs.


Bring our luminous wayfinding solutions on board and see your public space transformed with round-the-clock accessibility! Contact our team today to make your next project glow.

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Tactile Wayfinding Solutions for Visually Impaired: A Guide!

30th Aug 2023

Navigating through public spaces can be challenging for individuals with visual impairments. Having proper wayfinding solutions in place is crucial to ensure accessibility and safety for the visually impaired. Tactile wayfinding uses specialized textures and indicators to guide users and provide important spatial information non-visually through the sense of touch.


As per accessibility legislation in Canada, implementing compliant tactile wayfinding solutions in public spaces is a legal obligation. This guide will explore what tactile wayfinding entails, how it helps the visually impaired, types of solutions and standards for optimal implementation. Read out to know: 


An Overview of Tactile Wayfinding


Tactile wayfinding utilizes standardized ground surface textures comprising raised bars or indicators installed in walking areas. These tactile cues serve to outline paths of travel and key points like amenities, exits, and turnings through distinctive patterns that can be felt underfoot or with a cane.


There are two main purposes tactile wayfinding serves:

  • Directional Guidance: The tactile indicators guide users along appropriate circulation paths and routes in spaces like transit platforms, parks, plazas, airports, and more.
  • Spatial Mapping: The tactile network provides a non-visual understanding of the configuration of space, interactions, and decision points, enabling the visually impaired to build a mental map.

Well-executed tactile wayfinding enables visually impaired individuals to navigate safely and independently within environments by providing physical directional prompts detectable through touch.


Benefits of Tactile Wayfinding Solutions


Thoughtfully implemented tactile wayfinding confers several advantages for enhancing accessibility:


  • Promotes independent mobility and avoids the need to rely on aids like sighted guides, which are not always available.
  • Allows intuitive navigation of unfamiliar public spaces without getting lost or disoriented.
  • Builds user confidence in exploring new environments knowing guidance is in place.
  • Provides consistent navigational cues across different locations and building typologies.
  • Alerts to key decision points like intersections through complementary hazard indicators.
  • Meets legal obligations for implementing accessibility solutions in public realms.
  • Creates inclusive, barrier-free spaces that accommodate users of diverse abilities.


Types of Tactile Wayfinding Solutions


There are multiple options available when specifying tactile wayfinding solutions:


Surface Applied Wayfinding Tiles: 


These are installed on existing hard surfaces using adhesive. It is ideal for retrofit projects with no demolition needed.


Cast-In-Place Wayfinding Tiles: 


These are installed directly into freshly poured concrete. It is suited for new construction. Provide permanent tactile guidance.


Individual Embedded BarsL 


Discrete bars screwed into existing surfaces. It is for smaller-scale applications.


Photoluminescent Wayfinding: 


Uses glow-in-the-dark photoluminescent strips. It provides illumination in the darkness.


Based on factors like setting, foot traffic, visibility needs and budget, appropriate solutions can be adapted to provide compliant and consistent tactile wayfinding.


Standards for Tactile Wayfinding Implementation


To ensure effectiveness, tactile wayfinding solutions must adhere to certain guidelines and codes. Key specifications as per CSA B651 include:


  • Bar height: 4-5mm for optimal detectability
  • Bar width: 17-30mm based on surrounding textures
  • Bar length: Minimum 270mm for adequate underfoot contact
  • Bar spacing: Gap of 12-61mm between bars depending on size
  • Bar layout: Parallel to the direction of travel for intuitive guidance
  • Material: Durable; slip-resistant; weather-resistant
  • Color contrast: Sufficient visual contrast between bars and ground for partial sight
  • Size: Minimum width of 0.6m for tile runs
  • Consistency: Uniform textures are used throughout all circulation paths and spaces
  • Placement: At pedestrian crossings, transit access points, between key nodes, across open areas
  • Beveled edges: Prevent tripping hazards between tiles and ground


Following recognized standards ensures tactile wayfinding is implemented thoughtfully by maximizing accessibility, detectability and safety.


Tactile Wayfinding Solutions for Public Settings


Here are some key public environments that benefit from properly integrated tactile wayfinding:


  • Airports: Guide users from check-in to gates, help desks, baggage claims, arrivals and more.
  • Transit Platforms: Provide directional guidance to boarding zones, information kiosks, staircases and ticket vending machines.
  • Parks and Plazas: Outline safe pedestrian circulation paths leading to and from park entrances/exits.
  • Sidewalks: Define walkways between street furniture and high footfall zones in open public right-of-ways.
  • Office Lobbies: Direct from entrance to reception, elevators, information desk and other amenities.
  • Retail Spaces: Help navigate large open floorplates in shopping centers/department stores between aisles, exits and help points.


Careful installation of compliant tactile wayfinding networks spanning key pedestrian zones makes public spaces more usable for citizens of all abilities.


Installation and Maintenance


Proper installation and care ensure longevity of tactile wayfinding solutions:


  • Follow manufacturer instructions for setting, orientation and adhesive usage.
  • Ensure proper alignment perpendicular to the direction of travel.
  • Provide adequate lighting and visual contrast for maximum visibility.
  • Check for damaged/uplifted tiles regularly and undertake prompt replacement.
  • Provide user testing and feedback post-installation to check effectiveness.


With conscientious installation and maintenance, tactile wayfinding solutions will provide enhanced accessibility and experience for years.


Tactile Wayfinding from Tactile Solution Canada


Tactile Solution Canada offers the widest range of compliant tactile wayfinding solutions from trusted brands like Access Tile, Armor Tile, Advantage Tile and Ecoglo. Our offerings are:


  • Tested to survive Canadian weather extremes and heavy footfall
  • Customizable with various color, size and material options
  • Backed by 5+ year manufacturer warranties
  • Easy to install, replace and maintain
  • Provide guidance and hazard demarcation per CSA B651
  • Help create accessible, inclusive environments


To learn more about tactile wayfinding or to get product recommendations from our experts, contact Tactile Solutions Canada today!




What are the main purposes of tactile wayfinding?


The two main purposes are to provide directional guidance along appropriate pedestrian paths and circulation routes and enable spatial mapping of environments.


Where is tactile wayfinding required as per Canadian regulations?


Tactile wayfinding is mandated in all public spaces like sidewalks, parks, transit platforms, airports, office lobbies, retail stores, government buildings as per the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.


What are the main types of tactile wayfinding solutions?


Major types are surface-applied tactile tiles, cast-in-place tactile tiles, metal tactile tiles, individual embedded bars, and photoluminescent wayfinding strips.


What factors should be considered when choosing tactile wayfinding solutions?


Key considerations are indoor/outdoor setting, new or retrofit construction, expected footfall, ability to replace tiles, costs, visibility needs and compliance with standards.


How often should tactile wayfinding solutions be replaced?


With high-quality installation and materials, tactile wayfinding solutions can last 10-15 years with minimal replacement needs beyond periodic replacement of damaged tiles

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How Do Photoluminescent Exit Signs Work. A Science Explainer

30th Aug 2023

In public buildings across Canada, glowing green emergency exit signs are becoming a more common sight. But how exactly do these photoluminescent exit signs work their magic to illuminate emergency exit routes even when the lights go out? Read on for a science explainer demystifying the inner workings of photoluminescent exit signs and their benefits.


Understanding Photoluminescence


Photoluminescent exit signs rely on the phenomenon of “photoluminescence” to operate without electricity. Photoluminescence refers to the ability of certain materials to absorb, store, and emit light energy. These photoluminescent materials include phosphors like strontium aluminate and zinc sulfide.


When exposed to ambient light, the phosphors get energized. The absorbed photons excite the phosphors’ electrons to a higher energy state. When the ambient light source disappears, these excited electrons fall back to their normal state, emitting the excess energy as visible light. Hence the photoluminescent material seems to “glow in the dark” after being charged.


The Science Behind Photoluminescent Exit Signs


Photoluminescent exit signs contain non-toxic photoluminescent materials integrated into panels or strips. These get charged when exposed to any ambient light source, whether natural daylight entering through windows or ordinary indoor overhead lighting.


Once fully charged, the energized phosphor-infused panels glow brightly in dim or dark conditions. The glow emitted is a lime green color that meets international standards for exit sign illumination.


The glow duration depends on the strength and duration of the initial charging:


  • After 30-60 minutes of 54 lux ambient room lighting, the signs emit 70+ hours of glow.
  • Even after a short 1-2-minute charge, the signs provide 30-90 minutes of illumination.


This ability to “recharge” themselves using surrounding environmental light makes photoluminescent exit signs completely self-powered and sustainable. They require no external electricity or batteries to operate in dark conditions.


Benefits of Photoluminescent Exit Signs


Photoluminescent exit signs offer numerous advantages that make them an ideal emergency lighting solution:


1. 100% Reliable in Power Outages


Photoluminescent exit signs are completely unaffected by electricity disruptions and will keep glowing in blackouts when traditional electric exit signs may fail. This unmatched reliability during emergencies ensures exit routes remain visible for safe egress.


2. Energy-Efficient and Sustainable


By tapping into ambient light, photoluminescent signs consume zero energy. This saves on electricity costs and carbon footprint. They are an eco-friendly, sustainable solution.


3. Durable for Years


Photoluminescent materials retain their luminosity for over a decade. The signs have a lifespan of 15+ years, unlike electric exit signs requiring regular battery replacements.


4. Highly Visible Photoluminescent Glow


The bright green glow of the signs is designed to meet international standards for exit sign illumination. This high visibility captures attention quickly.


5. Fire and Moisture Resistant


The photoluminescent material is non-flammable and continues glowing even in humid or wet conditions. This makes the signs suitable even for outdoor applications.


6. Easy Maintenance


Photoluminescent exit signs have no electrical components and require only occasional cleaning. This saves on maintenance overhead.


7. Code Compliant


Photoluminescent exit signs meet rigorous visibility standards defined in building codes and EN standards for emergency lighting. This ensures legal compliance.


Becoming the New Code-Compliant Standard


Photoluminescent exit signs are fast replacing traditional electrically-powered exit signs as the new code-compliant standard across Canada and worldwide.


The incentive is the latest building codes and accessibility regulations that promote sustainable designs. For example:


The National Building Code of Canada (NBC) states that newly constructed buildings must incorporate designs and technology that reduce environmental impact and energy consumption. This makes photoluminescent exit signs an ideal eco-friendly solution for new buildings.


The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act or AODA mandates enhanced visibility of exit routes through photoluminescent markings. Photoluminescent exit signs help fulfill this legislation.


Provincial codes like the Ontario Building Code (OBC) also reference NBC and AODA in their standards for increased accessibility. By aligning with the latest codes, builders, and facility managers ensure their projects meet regulatory standards while benefiting from the advantages and energy savings that photoluminescent exit signs offer.


Where are Photoluminescent Exit Signs Required?


To comply with emergency lighting codes, photoluminescent exit signs are required in nearly all public buildings. Some key locations include:


  • At exit doors and along exit routes
  • Near stairwells
  • By elevators and escalators
  • In large open lobbies and gathering areas
  • At changes in level or direction along exit pathways
  • Within apartments, condominiums, and housing complexes
  • In commercial buildings like offices, retail stores, etc.
  • At transportation terminals like airports and train platforms
  • Across healthcare facilities like hospitals and nursing homes
  • Inside entertainment venues like theaters, gyms, etc.
  • Within educational institutes like schools and universities
  • Across industrial workspaces and warehouses


Photoluminescent Vs. Traditional Electric Exit Signs


Unlike photoluminescent exit signs, traditional electrical exit signs rely on external power and have high operating and maintenance costs.


Electric exit signs require professional hardwiring into the electrical system. Their illumination depends entirely on the power supply. In a power outage, they cease functioning, causing emergency visibility issues.


Electric exit signs consume energy continuously, even when the building is unoccupied, leading to high energy bills. Battery-powered variants need frequent and costly battery replacements every 1-2 years.


In contrast, photoluminescent signs leverage natural or ambient light at no added energy cost. Their simple plug-and-play installation also saves on labor costs compared to electrical hardwiring. With a lifespan of 15+ years, they have minimal maintenance needs.


By choosing sustainable photoluminescent exit signs, builders and facility managers see a quick return on investment while enhancing building safety and meeting codes.


Frequently Asked Questions


How do photoluminescent exit signs work?


They contain non-toxic phosphors that get energized by surrounding ambient light. The energized phosphors emit a green glow when the lights go out, illuminating the exit signs in darkness.


What types of buildings require photoluminescent exit signs?


Canadian codes mandate photoluminescent exit signs in nearly all public buildings and facilities, including offices, malls, airports, health facilities, educational institutes, and residential complexes.


Do photoluminescent exit signs need electricity or batteries?


No, photoluminescent exit signs are 100% self-powered and require no electrical connection or batteries. They operate by absorbing surrounding ambient light.


How long do the signs glow in dark conditions?


After 30-60 minutes of charging under indoor lighting, photoluminescent exit signs emit 70+ hours of visibility in darkness. Brighter ambient light results in a longer glow duration.


What are the benefits compared to electrical exit signs?


Key benefits are no wiring required, zero energy consumption, a long 15+ year lifespan, high emergency reliability, and low maintenance.


Photoluminescent Exit Signs from Tactile Solution Canada


As a leading Canadian supplier of accessible building solutions, Tactile Solution Canada offers UL-certified photoluminescent running man exit signs from trusted manufacturers like Ecoglo.


Our Ecoglo exit signs offer bright green photoluminescent illumination visible up to 75 feet. Some key features:


  • Meet ULC-S572 Canadian standards for photoluminescent exit signs
  • 100% self-powered illumination, no electrical connection needed
  • Visibility for 70+ hours after a 1-hour ambient light charge
  • Durable anodized aluminum housing
  • 25-year warranty
  • Non-toxic, non-radioactive photoluminescent material


Our team of experts can recommend the ideal exit signage to enhance emergency preparedness, meet Canadian codes, and create a sustainable building equipped for the future.


To make your next project safer, greener, and more code-compliant, explore our range of Exit Signs today!

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Understanding Canadian Accessibility Codes: AODA, CSA B651, NBC, IFC

30th Aug 2023

Accessibility is a fundamental human right that allows people with disabilities to participate fully in society. In Canada, various laws and regulations at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels aim to make public and private spaces accessible.


For those involved in construction, renovation, or facility management, understanding the critical accessibility codes is crucial to ensure compliance. When it comes to tactile warning systems that assist the visually impaired, some essential standards and regulations apply across Canada. Let’s explore the most important ones.


AODA – Leading the Way to Accessibility in Ontario


The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is a landmark provincial legislation passed in 2005. Its goal is to make Ontario fully accessible for people with disabilities by 2025.


AODA standards set accessibility requirements in 5 key areas:


  • Customer Service
  • Information and Communications
  • Employment
  • Transportation
  • Design of Public Spaces


The Design of Public Spaces standard directly relates to tactile warning systems. It covers technical specifications for public spaces like:


  • Recreational trails
  • Outdoor play areas
  • On and off-street parking
  • Service counters and queuing areas
  • Maintaining public spaces


For contractors, the AODA Design of Public Spaces standard legally mandates installing compliant tactile warning systems in indoor and outdoor public spaces. This makes AODA the foremost accessibility regulation in Ontario to consult for tactile projects.


CSA B651 – The Benchmark for Tactile Warning Systems


The CSA Group develops standards incorporated into Canada’s National Building Code (NBC). When it comes to tactile warnings, CSA B651 is the authority.


This comprehensive standard specifies the technical requirements for tactile walking surface indicators (TWSIs). It provides guidelines on:


  • Dome/cone size and spacing
  • Bar dimensions and layouts
  • Appropriate TWSI installation locations
  • Visual and tactile detectability
  • Materials and slip resistance


CSA B651 is aligned with global standards like ISO 23599 on tactile walking surfaces. By adhering to CSA B651, contractors can be assured that their tactile installations will meet strict dimensional, durability, visual contrast, and placement regulations.


National Building Code of Canada – Minimum Accessibility Standards


Canada’s National Building Code (NBC) sets out technical provisions for constructing new buildings and renovations. It references vital accessibility requirements from CSA standards on tactile warning surfaces.


The NBC demands a minimum level of accessibility in all new construction and renovations through features like:


  • Barrier-free interior routes
  • Visual fire alarms
  • Washroom Accessibility
  • Assistive listening systems


Meeting NBC requirements necessitates installing compliant tactile warning systems at specific locations. Being the national benchmark, the NBC is a crucial code for tactile installations.


Provincial and Municipal Building Codes – Local Accessibility Rules


Alongside the national standards, provincial and municipal building codes contain additional accessibility rules tailored to local needs.


For example, Ontario’s Building Code specifies supplementary requirements for new construction and renovations in the province. It adopts the NBC’s accessibility provisions and CSA tactile surface standards.


Municipalities like Toronto also issue their building code requirements and facility access standards. These local codes should be cross-checked to ensure complete compliance.


International Fire Code (IFC) – Life Safety through Photoluminescence


The IFC contains provisions related to fire safety in new and existing buildings. Section 1024 on Luminous Egress Path Markings mandates photoluminescent markings to delineate exit paths in many occupancy types.


Photoluminescent wayfinding strips, stair nosings, handrails, and door exit signs aid safe evacuation during fire emergencies by remaining illuminated even when lighting fails. IFC-compliant photoluminescent tactile systems can be crucial to creating a compliant facility per the code’s life safety objectives.


Barrier-Free Design Standards – Federal Guidelines


The Barrier-Free Design Standards issued by Public Services and Procurement Canada apply to federal buildings like post offices, border crossings, etc. These standards align with CSA requirements and provide schematics, drawings, and specifications related to accessibility.


Tactile warning strip standards are provided for stairs, pedestrian crossings, platform edges, etc. Adherence to these federal standards is mandatory for construction and renovations initiated by Public Services and Procurement Canada.


How Tactile Solution Canada Can Help Meet Codes?


As Canada’s premier accessibility solutions provider, Tactile Solution Canada partners with architects, contractors, and facility managers to integrate compliant tactile systems in projects across sectors. Our product portfolio includes trusted solutions like:

  • Access Tile® Detectable Warning Systems
  • Armor Tile® Tactile Systems
  • Advantage® Tactile Systems
  • Elan Tile® Tactile System
  • Eon Tile® Tactile System
  • Ecoglo® Photoluminescent Wayfinding Systems

These industry-leading solutions are:

  • Engineered to meet CSA B651, ISO, and AODA standards
  • Customizable for any public space context
  • Easy to install, durable and weather-resistant
  • Compliant with local and national building codes

By consulting us early in your project, we can recommend optimal tactile solutions to fulfill Canadian accessibility regulations and protect from risks of non-compliance.


Frequently Asked Questions


What are some essential accessibility laws in Canada?


The primary federal, provincial, and local accessibility laws are provincial building codes, CSA standards, municipal bylaws, and the National Building Code of Canada.


Where are tactile warning systems needed?


Key areas are transit platforms, curb ramps, building entrances, commercial washrooms, stairs, pedestrian crossings, and parking areas.


What material options work best for outdoor tactile systems?


Durable metal, engineered polymer, and porcelain tactile suit heavy-duty exterior use.


What maintenance is needed for tactile warning products?


High-caliber tactile warning systems require minimal maintenance beyond inspecting for damage and replacing individual damaged sections as needed.


Let Tactile Solution Canada be your partner in creating safely accessible commercial, institutional, and public environments. Get in touch with our experts to learn more about equipping your next project with code-compliant tactile warning systems specially tailored to your needs.

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