Walking down a city sidewalk or alongside a subway platform, it is almost impossible not to notice the bumpy, typically brightly colored end caps. These surfaces are not there by accident or for some sort of decoration. The detectable warning surfaces were put into place to assist those with disabilities when they are traveling, whether it be between sidewalks or to hop on a train at the station. For most people, these surfaces can go unnoticed as they are not as useful if you are not visually impaired. However, the Americans with Disabilities Act made installing detectable warning surfaces a standard practice to ensure that those with disabilities are able to travel in public safely. But, do we really need detectable warning surfaces?

Why Detectable Warning Surfaces Are Important?

These surfaces are an essential part of helping people with disabilities to be able to maneuver throughout public spaces. A growing number of Americans have a visual impairment or other disability that can make it difficult to travel. The tactile surface helps those with disabilities to be able to recognize where they are whether that means determining the end of a sidewalk or the edge of a subway platform. 

How Does The ADA Make Sure The Surfaces Work?

There are regulations in regard to tactile warning surfaces. These regulations are completely necessary in order to make sure that there is a consistent standard that is being upheld. According to ADA regulations, the surfaces have to be in contrast to the surfaces that they are installed on. The truncated domes have to be a specific size and width apart. The panels also have to be made of specific materials in order to ensure durability through use and wear and tear.

Who Needs Tactile Warning Surfaces?

The visually and physically impaired benefit greatly from tactile warning surfaces. The truncated domes are the raised bumps found on the top of each panel of the tactile warning surface. These bumps help the visually impaired detect the end of a sidewalk before walking into traffic, the change in levels when moving up and down stairs, and act as a warning on the edge of subway platforms. 

The ADA requires that tactile warning surfaces to be installed in all vulnerable locations to protect the visually impaired and anyone with a disability. The ADA also requires that each surface adheres to specific guidelines and regulations to ensure consistency. The next time you come across one of those colorful panels with truncated domes, you will know how essential they are to the protection of the disabled and visually impaired.