Monday, February 25, 2008

Is your sidewalk accessible?

Calvin points out an accessible sidewalk in Beijing

When visiting Beijing last week I noticed that many of the sidewalks have a strip down the side that has a specific pattern. I started noticing it everywhere and finally asked "why the strip?". I was told it was to assist blind people. With my recent interest in accessibility I started paying attention and found that not only do they have the strip, when the sidewalk changes or when it comes to an intersection, the strip changes from raised dashes to dots.

Dashes to Dots

I began to notice the strip everywhere and feel rather silly that I didn't notice it earlier and that I had not recognized it's purpose. Perhaps this is a common thing and I've never noticed it in other cities, but I was really pleasantly surprised by it.

Accessibility strip in the subway

As a side note, I also found that each bill of their paper money could be distinguished by it's size, something the U.S. could use some work on.


andre said...

not only beijing - i've also seen this at bus stations in germany for example

Adrian M said...

Seems to be everywhere in London too

Janne Morén said...

The exact same stripes and dot tiles are used everywhwere in Japan. An acquaintance of mine who is a city planner in Sweden says that design was invented in Japan, and there is now a contentious discussion in many places on whether to adopt them or not (some see them as ugly; others worry about the impact on snow removal).

As for the money, I think US is one of the few places left that still has bills of different value be the same size. Having different sizes (and colors) is just too good an idea not to adopt.

aent said...

In the US it depends on the state. I live in Florida and they require all sidewalks to have circular bumps in them before an intersection. They're designed not only to help the blind know its an intersection but also to slow/stop wheelchairs so they can't roll into the streets. However the previous version of the standard was to use lines that didn't slow wheelchairs and they are still around here everywhere, and even older stuff just isn't accessible at all, lol, many even literally, with sidewalks that start from nowhere and end nowhere.

Possible Piper said...

It's quite common in the UK, although it seems like Beijing have applied it much more universally than we have. Certainly at pedestrian crossings there is almost always textured paving in specific patterns now. It's also used to identify the sides of split cycle/pedestrian paths and similar things.

And our bank notes and coins have been designed to be distinguishable by touch for many years now (and bank notes also have unique colours for each denomination).

Laurent Debacker said...

In Brussels, Belgium we also have special acoustic patterns on red lights in some places. That way blinds know whether the light is green or red.

George Pantazis said...

We have them too in Greece, and I think there are more patterns than the strips and dots that must mean something to people that can use them:-p

George Pantazis said...

Just to mention I always found it weird that US currency is the same size, both euro and drachmas always had a variety in size and colouring(including coins).

Mike Gorse said...

Interesting. I'd never heard of that before.

As the linked site explains, the American Council of the Blind has been suing the Dept. of the Treasury on the grounds that they are violating Sect. 504 of the Rehabilitation Act by producing bills that are not tactily distinguishable. A judge ruled in ACB's favor, but the Treasury is appealing. I guess they figure that they can't afford to maybe spend a couple hundred million dollars to make our bills tactily distinguishable when we're spending a couple hundred billion dollars to occupy Iraq.

Christine said...

I am in Xiamen, China and I wrote a blog posting on the exact same subject ( I was told they are very common all over China: Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen etc... Nice to see that they don't only exist in China. I have never seen them in countries I traveled to.