Tactile Wayfinding

Simple, effective and probably the best safety innovation for years

Suppose the fire alarm is blaring.

Suppose you have a sight impairment. That may be a physical one, or one imposed upon you by smoke or dust.

Suppose now you have to evacuate the building.

But, you can’t see the exit or the fire signage

How will you do that, how will you escape?

Thankfully, there is a solution – and it couldn’t be simpler.

Our tactile wall mounted handrail, crash rail and  SimpleStrip will translate the information given in conventional fire signage to a format which can be understood by those who are visually impaired.

It is a required consideration of current standards including:

  • BS 9999 – Code of practice for fire safety in the design, management and use of buildings
  • The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order
  • Our tactile systems are  specifically designed to meet these requirements as well as providing the essential protection to the fabric of the building.

The tactile indicators are very simple to understand.

The wedge shape suggests you are going towards or away from the nearest exit. If your hand or fingers glide over the rising surface of the wedge, you are moving towards the nearest exit.  

If the hand or fingers meet the edge of the wedge first and a resistance is felt, you are moving away from the nearest exit.

A set of three bumps indicates a change in direction is required.

Place your back to the wall and walk forwards to either the fire exit or more directional wayguidance system.

It’s that simple!

Using the tactile indicators in this way, it is possible to navigate people along the shortest distance to the fire exit, taking them across dead-end corridors and across T-junctions in corridors.

During the development period of the wall system, trials were undertaken at the Building Research Establishment and Cranfield College of Aeronautics.

The tests at the Building Research Establishment at Watford were undertaken under the supervision of Drs Mike Wright and Geoff Cook of Reading University in collaboration with the Joint Mobility Unit. The trial evaluated several low-mounted systems as well as conventional emergency overhead fluorescent lighting. We can do little better in supporting evidence than to quote from the report –The Effect of Smoke on Emergency Lighting, Escape Route Lighting & Way-Finding Provision (EEWPS). The report found that the SOS Waypoint electroluminescent system increased exit speeds by over 40% compared to overhead emergency lighting.

In trials at Cranfield University, tactile modules were fitted to aisle seat armrests of a 737 cabin simulator. Sighted people and, for the first time ever in an aircraft evacuation trial, VIP’s (Visually Impaired Persons) evaluated the advantages of tactile indicators. In post-trial interviews, many of the visually impaired participants reported that the tactile indicators were of benefit , and sighted passengers also commented on the potential advantages of the system in low visibility.

The building system is now available in many forms, from hospital handrails and crash rails down to a cheap effective install-it-yourself kit called SimpleStrip. Either with a background to complement your decor, or a high visibility aircraft grade photoluminescent one.

Academic Appraisal by Experts

During the development period of the wall system, trials were undertaken at the Building Research Establishment and Cranfield College of Aeronautics.

The tests at the Building Research Establishment at Watford were undertaken under the supervision of Drs Mike Wright and Geoff Cook of Reading University in collaboration with the Joint Mobility Unit. The trial evaluated several low-mounted systems as well as conventional emergency overhead fluorescent lighting. We can do little better in supporting evidence than to quote from the report –The Effect of Smoke on Emergency Lighting, Escape Route Lighting & Way-Finding Provision (EEWPS). The report found that the SOS Waypoint electroluminescent system increased exit speeds by over 40% compared to overhead emergency lighting.

In trials at Cranfield University, tactile modules were fitted to aisle seat armrests of a 737 cabin simulator. Sighted people and, for the first time ever in an aircraft evacuation trial, VIP’s (Visually Impaired Persons) evaluated the advantages of tactile indicators. In post-trial interviews, many of the visually impaired participants reported that the tactile indicators were of benefit , and sighted passengers also commented on the potential advantages of the system in low visibility.

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