Tactile Paving - Understanding the Current Guidance
August 2022

Tactile Paving - Understanding the Current Guidance

In order to make the roads and pavements safer for visually impaired individuals, tactile paving is widely used. You’ve likely noticed it at a crossing - the raised, bumpy tiles that sit before a road. While it is an essential solution for local councils, some businesses benefit from using it around their premises. In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know regarding tactile paving, as well as the current guidance for its use.
What Is Tactile Paving?

Known in the market under a range of names, including detectable warning surfaces, tactile paving is a textured ground that is used to assist those with visual impairments. It provides a warning to the individual that they are approaching a hazard or that there is a change in gradient up ahead. Tactile paving is an alternative to the visual cues that tell us there is risk ahead. In collaboration with sound, it is proven to help minimise accidents and help these individuals maintain their independence when travelling.

The system first came into place in Japan before being adopted more widely in the 1990s. Today, you’ll notice it in numerous places including at railway stations, before crossings and at the beginning of a step. The different designs and textures can be read by the visually impaired, informing them of exactly what the hazards up ahead presents. There are also specifications on colour, highlighting the importance of using strongly contrasting colours to allow those with a residual vision to obtain the right information.

Rules exist around orientation and lighting levels - all of which are introduced as precautions to try and make the public walking space as safe as possible.
What Are Its Benefits?

Specifically designed for the visually impaired, from low vision through to full blindness, tactile paving:

Provides a safe and effective method of warning against upcoming hazards.
Allows individuals to travel safely and independently.
Provides clear safety information in a non-visual way.
Reduces the risk of injury or accident.
Blends in with other flooring types, meaning it is just as safe for visually able people to walk across.
Can also be used to benefit cyclists.
Comes in a range of designs to help convey different messages.

Hazards for Visually Impaired Individuals

We’ve mentioned a few of the places you will find tactile flooring. Some of the most common include:

Dropped kerbs.
Controlled crossing points.
Uncontrolled crossing points.
Triangular pedestrian islands.
Vehicle crossovers and vehicle access.
In advance of a different gradient.
Top and bottom of a flight of stairs.
Immediate ramp access.
Level crossing.
Platform edge.
To separate pedestrians and cyclists.
Guidance path.

Types of Tactile Paving and Their Uses

When first introduced, tactile paving was used to create a ‘stop’ system. However, once its use was deemed effective, further designs have been made which enable the visually impaired to get much more complex and helpful information. Today, there are 6 main types of tactile paving:

Offset Blister.


You will largely find blister tactile paving on pedestrian crossings. The raised bump design specifically tells the visually impaired that they have approached a crossing and that additional measures should be taken (such as sound) to help them navigate these hazards. These square paving stones have consistent rows of flat-topped blisters in a square pattern. When installed, they should span the full width of the crossing and venture back to the start of the dropped kerb on the right-hand side.

Blister paving generally comes in three colours - red, buff and natural. It can be combined with smooth paving slabs for pram access and is suitable for use with both controlled and non-controlled crossings. Over the years, there have been many variations from solid stone through to those with metal studs and even stick-on tiles that create the same effect.
Offset Blister

In contrast, offset blister paving is used on train, tram and tube platforms. It warns the visually impaired individual that they are approaching the edge of a platform. The raised blisters here are smaller and arranged in an offset design. This type of paving flags is also known as a platform-edge warning surface. During installation, offset blister flags are laid around 500mm back from the platform edge and parallel to the rail track.

Lozenge tactile paving is designed to mark an on-street platform edge. It is there to tell visually impaired individuals that there is an LRT (Light Rapid Transport) system or a Supertram scheme approaching. In this design, rounded oval raised surfaces allow for easy differentiation from blister flooring.

Sometimes referred to as hazard tactile paving, this striped raised surface is designed to inform the individual about very specific hazards. These include steps or where a footpath joins into a shared route. The advice taken from this design is to proceed with caution with the awareness that there may be hazards in the near vicinity.

As the name suggests, cycleway tactile flooring is used to indicate the beginning and end of a shared pedestrian and cycle route. It is used where these two surfaces are not on different levels. If the tiles are laid transversely, they indicate a pedestrian path. If they are laid longitudinally, they indicate a cycling path.

Directional tactile paving is used to denote the safest direction of travel for a visually impaired individual. With a series of raised bars, it can be used in a variety of environments - especially those with high foot traffic or ones that blend pedestrians and vehicles in one.

Here at Quantick Safety Systems, we manufacture and supply a range of hardwearing, durable and versatile tactile flooring options. Our GRP Anti-Slip Tactile Paving is available in blister and corduroy designs with an easy-to-install design. We also supply the fixing kit which allows you to create a safer working environment swiftly, without the need to excavate any ground. As experts in the field of safety, we specialise in finding a solution to every hazard. If you are looking for more information about tactile flooring, get in contact with us via our website today.