Featured In New-Jersey Local Paper "The Record"
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."
for the feet'
N.J. sidewalks get tactile cues
By Eric Hsu
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
"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
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
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."
hsu at northjersey.com
Credit Source- The Record
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