Tactile Ground Surface Indicator Facts

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Why are Tactile Ground Surface Indicators mandatory on footpaths and in buildings?

The practical need for accessible built environments is evident in the fact that 20% of Australians will experience a permanent or temporary disability over their lifetime.(1)  That’s an astounding four million people who require universal access in Australia.

Australian Federal Legislation, The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), passed into law in 1992 making it unlawful to discriminate against any person with a disability.(2)  This law paved the way for many ingenious Australian innovations in this field, including Tactile Ground Surface Indicators (TGSI’s), and prepared the way for inclusion of Universal Access in many other codes and standards.

The use of TGSI’s, their design and their application, is founded on AS/NZS 1428.4.1.  ESP Australia uses this Australian Industry Standard as the benchmark to its TGSI Access® Tile product design, procedures and policies.

Tactile Ground Surface Indicator Facts


What do Tactile Ground Surface Indicators achieve for our footpaths and buildings?

TGSI’s assist persons with a temporary, permanent, full or partial vision-impairment to negotiate a built environment.(3)

They provide guidance and/or warning of an obstruction or hazard in any location where insufficient alternative or ‘natural’ tactile cue exists in a built environment. When combined with other environmental information, TGSI’s assist people who are blind or vision-impaired with their orientation.(4)

Why must we have Tactile Ground Surface Indicators in our buildings and on our streets?

The Australian Bureau of Statistics data revealed that in 2010, approximately 600,000 Australians were blind or living with some form of vision-impairment.(4) These persons who are classed as experiencing a vision impairment are mostly over 65 years of age.(5) According to Vision Australia, these figures are expected to climb to 1,200,000 by the year 2035.(6)



Who and what governs the use of Tactile Ground Surface Indicators within Australia?

Australian Federal Legislation, Australian & New Zealand Standards, Australian State & Territory Codes, and self-governing legal entity guidelines that may apply, affect and/or govern the design, use, application and placement of TGSIs are set out below:

1. Australian Federal Legislation – (requires mandatory compliance) – The Federal Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) – Provides protection for everyone in Australia against discrimination based on disability.
2. Access to Premises (Buildings) Standard (APS) – (Mandatory for New Building work or when a Permit is required for a building upgrade): A Guideline on the Application of the Premises Standards Version 2 February 2013.
3. The National Construction Code (NCC) – Building Code The Building Code of Australia (BCA) Section D Clause 3.8 – (Mandatory Compliance).
4. Australian State & Territory Codes, and Self Governing Regulatory Entity Guidelines.
5. AS/NZS 1428.2009 Design for Access and Mobility Part 4.1 – Means to Assist the Orientation of People with Vision Impairment – TGSI’s, including and not limited to:

• AS/NZS 1428.4.1. Amdt 1 – 2010-11-26
• AS/NZS 1428.4.1. Amdt 2 – 2014-12-10
• AS 1428.1 Part 1 – Design for Access and Mobility – General Requirements for Access New Building Work.
• AS 1428.2 Part 2:1992 – Design for Access and Mobility Enhanced and Additional Requirements – Buildings & Facilities
• AS 4586:2013 – Slip Resistance Classification of New Pedestrian Surface Materials Amdt 1:2017
• AS 4663:2013 – Slip Resistance Measurement of Existing Pedestrian Surface.
• SA HB 198:2014 – Guide to the Specification and Testing of Slip Resistance of Pedestrian Surfaces.
• AS 1657:2013 – Fixed Platforms, Walkways, Stairways and Ladders Design, Construction and Installation.
• AS 1735.5:2015 – Lifts, Escalators and Moving Walks Part 5: Escalators and Moving Walks.
• AS 1428.4.2:2018 – Design for Access and Mobility Means to Assist the Orientation of People with Vision Impairment – Wayfinding Signs
• AS 1742.7:2016 – Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices – Part 7 Railway Crossings.
• AS 1742.10.2009 – Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices – Part 10 Pedestrian Control & Protection.
• AS1742.10.2014 – Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices – Part 14 Traffic Signals

When and where are Tactile Ground Surface Indicators used in the built environment?

According to Australian & New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 1428.2009 Design for Access and Mobility Part 4.1 – Means to Assist the Orientation of People with Vision Impairment – TGSI’s, TGSI’s should be used at a ‘minimum’ in the following situations(7):

• Stairs and Stair landings
• Escalators & Travellators
• Pedestrian Ramps (not premises threshold ramps)
• Overhead Hazards (including potential obstructions wall protruding fixtures)
• Carriageways without kerbs – (i.e, that intersect at the same grade)
• Railway, Tramway and Light Rail Pedestrian –
(Waiting platforms and level crossings)
• Waterbodies -(wharves, lakes and ponds accessible by pedestrians)

Tactile Ground Surface Indicator Facts


(1) ABS LIVING WITH A DISABILITY ABS 29/04/2016 4430.0.10.001 – Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: First Results, 2015
(2) Disability Discrimination Act 1992, Act No. 135 of 1992 Administered by: Attorney-General’s Date of Assent 05 Nov 1992, https:// www.legislation.gov.au/Series/C2004A04426/ Compilations (3), (4), (5) & (6) Source: AS/NZS 1428.4.Part 1 (2009) AMDT No.1.1 Nov 2010
(7) Please Note: This is a summary of AS/NZS 1428.4.1. 2009 Clause 2. There are various other situations and applications that are exempt and or are called for under The Building Code of Australia, The Access to Premises Standards. Professional consultants should always be consulted with prior to the intended application of TGSI’s.

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