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The Design and Installation of Tactile Surfaces for Visually Impaired Pedestrians

Thursday 20 April 2023
10:30 am to 11:30am

Meeting registration

Following some joint work with the Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind (SRSB), Steve Thorpe, Rob Shaw, and Richard Bowman produced an abstract for the International Ergonomics Association Conference on Slips, Trips, and Falls in Sendai, Japan in July 2022 considering the influence of the design of steps and stairs and the role of tactile surfaces on the risk of falls to visually impaired users.

During the initial conversation with SRSB members it became apparent that the level of knowledge surrounding the meaning and relevance of tactile floor surfaces, which are intended to be used by visually impaired pedestrians as warning cues and for wayfinding, varied significantly between different members of the group.

Steve and Rob are now looking to expand this small initial project into a more comprehensive study of the design, installation, and education principals surrounding the use of tactile paving in the built environment. The aim is to develop a better understanding of the experience of a large group of visually impaired users to inform future decisions on how to design, install, and use tactile floor surfaces as well as how best to communicate their functions to visually impaired pedestrians and reduce the risk of falls.

We are keen to engage with as many visual impairment organisations as possible within the UK to seek their feedback and experiences and to help inform the future of tactile floor surface use.

Webinar Contents

The webinar will cover the findings of the work so far, the proposed next steps for the research and include an opportunity for discussion with audience members.

This research project aims to improve the useability of the built environment for visually impaired pedestrians. This is an opportunity to discuss the research and input your ideas, as well as a way to get involved and influence how pedestrian walking surfaces are designed in the future.


Rob Shaw and Steve Thorpe are both former Technical Leads for the Falls Prevention Team at the Health and Safety Executive Science Division. Between them they have over 40 years’ experience in researching, investigating, and preventing pedestrian falls. Rob and Steve were involved in the HSE research into tactile paving conducted in 2004/2005.

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