Tactile walking surface indicators are intended to be detectable underfoot when walking or by a long white cane. They are used to alert people with low or no vision of potential hazards, such as moving vehicular traffic.

The indicators must also provide a high tonal contrast with the surround surface. The indicators that are installed in the City of Toronto are made of cast iron. Initially, cast iron will develop a rusty red colour which may stain the sidewalk in the first year following installation. The stain will eventually disappear and the cast iron will develop a natural patina, which provides an even greater tonal contrast with the sidewalk.

Toronto must follow Ontario laws that aim to make the province and our cities and towns more accessible for persons with disabilities.

Under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, there are new design standards as of December 2012 for the Design of Public Spaces that apply to new construction and the redevelopment of elements in public spaces.

New or redeveloped pedestrian crossings with curb ramps or depressed curbs must have tactile walking surface indicators with “raised tactile profiles” that have a high tonal contrast to the adjacent surface.

Toronto follows universal standards, in order to provide consistent indicators to persons with low or no vision.

Tactile walking surface indicators are universally used. The design is based on Canadian (CSA) and International (ISO) standards. Japan has been using them since 1967. The ISO standard was created in 1999, and the U.S. has been widely using them since 2001. The CSA standard was created in 2004 and updated in 2012. The Government of Ontario also had a significant consultation process involving advisory groups and representatives of various disabilities in the development of its accessibility standards.

A pilot project was conducted by the City at the intersection of Shuter Street and Victoria Street, by St. Michael’s Hospital, from November 2012 to July 2013. The purpose of the pilot project was to evaluate four different tactile walking surface indicator products, which were installed at the four corners of the intersection. View the Pilot Project Evaluation Report.