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What the Heck does Tactile Mean Anyway?
Posted by: angeli68 (
Date: November 04, 2011 09:12AM


Tactile Letters and Symbols

Pictures are often used as a graphic form of communication (a map, a chart, etc.) for individuals who have adequate residual vision. Tactile symbols and letters are concrete representations developed for individuals who are totally blind or function as if they were totally blind and who have a practical need for a graphic language system.

Tactile signage has become a integral part of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as it affords non-sighted and otherwise visually impaired persons to navigate through facilities without a guide.

A brief history of the Americans with Disabilities Act:

Introduced in the Senate as S.933 by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) on May 9, 1989

Passed the Senate on September 7, 1989 (76-8)

Passed the House of Representatives on May 22, 1990 (unanimous voice vote)

Reported by the joint conference committee on July 12, 1990; agreed to by the House of Representatives on July 12, 1990 (377 - 28) and by the Senate on July 13, 1990 (91-6)

Signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990

For More information relating to ADA Signage please contact us:

Bryan Kay

Re: What the Heck does Tactile Mean Anyway?
Posted by: SharonToji (
Date: March 03, 2012 06:16PM

At the last ANSI session, the Access Board asked us to change all references to "tactile" to "raised," because they thought it was causing confusion, and of course you can somewhat read incised letters, although, as we found during a test back in 1992, not as well as raised letters.

The 2010 ADA Design Standards, which will be legally enforceable this month, have a great new provision for separating out the raised characters and braille from the visual message. This makes the sign more readable for the two very different types of blind readers, those with usable vision and those with none.

You can put the "invisible" raised characters and braille within a decorative area of the sign, which can look like a header or footer, for instance, or maybe a geometric decorative shape layered onto the sign. That means the visual letters can be larger, bolder, and most important for readability upper and lower case. The raised letters can go down to 1/2 inch in height.

I'll be glad to end someone examples if it's difficult to visualize the concept. Just ask!

Sharon Toji

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