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Tactile Guideways & Braille

Updated Mar 2, 2020
Tactile guidance was first introduced in Okayama city, Japan, in 1967. Over the past 50 years, the use of tactile guideways has gradually spread throughout Japan and around the world. While there is no clear design standard, tactile guidance traditionally consists of raised bars and domes that help people who are blind and low vision navigate transit stations as well as city streets and sidewalks.

At the Accessible Station Lab:

Riders who are blind and use white canes or service animals for assistance can follow the tactile guideways which sit on top of the station floor to get around the station. The guideways are all bright blue so that they stand out to all riders, especially those with low-vision. 

Tactile Guideways at Jay St-MetroTech are made up of various combinations of tactile materials to convey different information about the path. 

Raised bars direct you forward: 

Raised bars 3x2

A person with a red-tipped white cane navigates a subway station using blue raised floor tiles.

Raised domes alert you of an intersection or landmark. When you detect raised domes, look for signs with braille and raised letters on a nearby column that explain your location in the station and what the raised domes indicate. 

A 2-foot by 3-foot section of raised domes tells you that you are at a three-way intersection. Look for braille/raised letter signage on a nearby column for guidance.

A 3-way intersection with raised domes indicating that there is a decision to be made.
A Braille/raised lettering sign reading: [left arrow] "exit," [right arrow] A C F R, [down/forward arrow] "booth & map."

When you find a single 12-inch x 12-inch tile of raised domes with raised bars on either side, you are near a column with braille/raised letter signage that will orient you further along your path. 

When you find a single 12-inch x 12-inch tile of raised domes with no pathway on the other side, you have reached the end of that guidance path. If you are on the platform, look for braille/raised letter signage on a nearby column for information about the trains serving each side of the platform.

When you are walking through the turnstile, the guidance pauses under the turnstile itself and continues once you have moved through the turnstile.

Raised bars of tactile guideway with raised domes on each side of a turnstile. there is no tactile guidance under the turnstile itself.

You may notice that the tiles look and feel different in different parts of the station.

We are testing out several materials and designs to establish a standard that works best for NYCT riders in the blind and low vision communities. Let us know if you can feel the difference! 

On the main mezzanine at Jay Street and Willoughby Street, we’re using ADA Solutions’ raised bar and dome products which are made of a harder plastic material.

Close-up image of ADA Solutions tactile guidance material.

At the Lawrence and Willoughby Street mezzanine, the intermediate transfer mezzanine, and segments on all three platforms we used Detectable Warning Systems’ RediMat raised bar and dome products which are made of a softer rubbery material.

close-up image of Detectible Warning Systems' Redimat material. Image shows raised bars.

The Lawrence and Willoughby Street mezzanine also features an alternative Y-shaped design at the top and bottom of stairways, so that the guideway is detectable no matter which side of the stairs you’re on.

image shows redimat material at bottom of stairway at Lawrence St & Willoughby St mezzanine in a Y-shape, with raised bars originating at each corner of the stairway and meeting in a Y-shaped fashion.

Tell us what you think

If you have feedback, you can use our web form and select Subways and Compliment (even if your feedback isn't positive--we want to hear it all!) from the drop down menus. Then select A Station and choose Accessible Station Lab, and tell us in the comment field which feature or features you tested and what you think. You can also call 511 and tell us what you think.