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Armor-Tile Featured In New-Jersey Local Paper "The Record"

Original Link - Local News, Southeast Bergen 'Braille for the feet';

On Wednesday, November 1, 2006, New-Jersey's The Record published an article regarding the so called "Braille for the feet" detectable warning tactile panels featuring photos of tiles made by Armor-Tile. The article goes on to talk about the ADA and some of the ways it has come to be adopted by surrounding counties and towns. The article is a must-read for those looking for more information on detectable warnings, tactile systems, and ADA regulations or concerns. Without further ado, the article "Braille for the feet" by Eric Hsu;

"Tactile aid for safe crossings,

Bumpy panels like these help blind pedestrians tell the difference between the sidewalk and the street. They're appearing in serveral towns throughout North Jersey."

'Braille for the feet'

N.J. sidewalks get tactile cues

By Eric Hsu
Staff Writer

BPALISADES PARK - Even the mayor was a little confused when the bumpy, red pads showed up. On street corners here and across the state, work crews have been installing special panels designed to help the blind and visually handicapped tell exactly where the sidewalk ends and traffic begins.

The panels, sometimes called "Braille for the feet", are covered with quarter-inch-high bumps that can be felt underfoot, and have been unusual enough to stop passers-by. In Palisades Park, where workers have laid dozens of the panels along Brinkerhoff Avenue, Mayor James Rotundo said he at first mistook them for anti-slip pads.
"I had the same question. They do look different," Rotundo said. The panels often brick-red color, are of a type more commonly seen on train platforms, where they have been used for many years to warn riders about the platform's edge.

They became a requirement for sidewalks in 2001 under the Americans with Disabilities Act. But because the specifications have been revised, many towns have only now started installing them. The panels are required only for new sidewalk construction or renovation, said Dave Yanchulis, a spokesman for the ADA Access Board. Dozens of towns in Bergen, Passaic, Morris and Essex counties have ordered the panels in recent months, said Bob Hibler, an Edison-based distributor for Armor-Tile, one of the largest manufacturers of the panels. Ridgefield has ordered 200, Passaic has ordered 100, and Newark has ordered 300. About 20 panels were installed during
See Blind Page L-2

Blind: Street Aid

From Page L-1
a renovation of Cedar Lane in Teaneck this summer, and they are slated for projects in Hillsdale and River Vale, said Christopher Statile, an engineering consultant in Oakland.

The panels could eventually be as ubiquitous as sidewalk cutouts, which include the low curb and ramps at the end of sidewalks. In fact, the design of the panels grew out of an unusual debate about cutouts in the disability community. Several decades ago, laws stated mandating curb cuts to improve access for wheelchair users and others. But the cutouts sometimes hindered teh blind, who relied on curb drop-offs to cue them to the end of the sidewalk, said David Loux, a field operations manager for a Morristown company that trains guide dogs.

Access experts settled on panels as a compromise. Sometimes called "truncated domes," referring to the beveled tops of the bumps, the panels provide instant feedback underfoot or for a person with a cane. Their color is also meant to contrast with the sidewalk as a signal to those with limited vision.


Refinements to the design have included making the panels smaller, and laying the bumps perpendicular to the panel's edge, rather than diagonally, to make them easier for wheelchairs to pass.. But some debate continues about the tradeoffs. The panels can be slightly problematic for shopping carts, strollers and in-line skaters, said Jerry Smith, vice-president of Detectable Warning Systems, a company in California that manufactures fiberglass versions of the panels. And women in high heels might struggle with them, Statile said.

Smith said they also can be more difficult to keep clear of ice and snow, because the bumps stop plows and shovels. Ed Hoff, an accessibility expert with NJ Transit, said the snow-clearing can beaccomplished with ice melt and brushes.

Loux, who is blind, said he believes the panels' inconveniences are minor compared with their benefit for blind people, whohe noted must walk more since they don't drive.

"You're going to give that person a tremendous edge of safety," Loux said. "We'd like to be safe so we can get to our destination. We'd like to get home, too."
 
Email: hsu at northjersey.com

Credit Source- The Record
"Friend of the people it serves"
www.northjersey.com


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