Who Benefits When Public Spaces Are Made Accessible to Everyone?

When public spaces are improved and made accessible, everyone benefits. To illustrate, consider the curb ramp. This change to sidewalks at intersections and store entrances made it possible for people with mobility issues to have easier access. Curb ramps first started to appear in the late 1940s.

At that time, they were considered an accessibility benefit. However, today that is no longer the case. Instead, curb ramps benefit everyone regardless of whether they have a disability. They make it easier for people with visual impairments to transition from one surface to another. They help people who are carrying heavy bags. They even benefit people who are pushing a stroller or handcart to make deliveries.

A curb ramp which has a yellow detectable surface ramp installed

A curb ramp which has a detectable warning surface installed so sight-impaired pedestrians know where to safely exit the sidewalk

A curb ramp that has a detectable warning surface installed so sight-impaired pedestrians know where to safely exit the sidewalk.This is just one example of how one simple improvement benefited everyone. Another great example is the use of detectable warning surface tiles. Initially, these tiles with raised truncated domes were developed to aid people who have visual impairments or are blind. Today, the use of these tiles also benefits:


  • People with Disabilities: Curb ramps and warning surface tiles help all sorts of people with disabilities. The raised domes help provide traction so wheelchairs move easily over the surface. For the visually impaired, the tiles alert them they need to take caution like when near a busy intersection.
  • Elderly: If you have joint pain or have to use a walker or cane to get around, the use of both curb ramps and warning surfaces provides easier access to public spaces. You do not have to worry about having to raise your leg or the walker or cane up over a curb. Plus, the raised domes provide solid footing to reduce the risks of slipping and falling down.
  • Distracted People: Have you ever been texting or reading social media posts while walking down the sidewalk? Many people do and, without ADA detectable warning surface tiles, people would walk right out into a busy intersection and potentially get hit by a car. The tiles can be felt underfoot, so it lets you know you need to look up from your smartphone.
  • Children: Most children know that when they encounter a warning surface with raised domes, they need to stop and wait for assistance crossing the street. The use of warning surfaces stops them from entering busy intersections, parking lots, or other areas where they may not be easily seen.

By making public spaces accessible to those with disabilities, it also makes it much easier for everyone else without disabilities.

Aside from curb ramps and detectable warning surface tiles, there are some other accessible improvements that benefit everyone. The first one is the use of way-finding surface products. Way-finding tiles have long “line-like” truncated domes that help provide guidance to different locations and areas.

Even though way-finding tiles are not always required by local, state, or federal regulations, they do make it easier for people to find their ways from one area to another. The tiles essentially serve as walkways. People with visual impairments rely on them, when walking in public areas and spaces, to help them reach their destinations.

Walkway with a detectable warning surface next to the hand railing

A long walkway which has been fitted with a detectable warning surface next to the hand railing

For instance, many parks with walking and biking trails are now installing way-finding tiles so people with visual impairments can also enjoy spending more time outdoors walking. The way-finding tiles allow them to remain on a safe path while avoiding other walkers or bicyclists.

Another accessibility improvement people benefit from are photoluminescent way-finding tiles. These tiles light up and illuminate at night, during power outages, and at other times when there is a lowered light level. The lights on the tiles help direct people to exits or down paths so they do not go off walkways or fall of ledges like at rail and subway station platforms.

How ADA Solutions Helps Make Public Spaces Safer for Everyone

ADA Solutions offers several different types of warning surface products which can be used in a variety of locations. The use of these products helps increase safety not just for those with disabilities but everyone in general.

    • Cast-in-Place Replaceable: First introduced in 2006, our Cast-in-Place Replaceable warning surface panels are designed with an extra heavy-duty anchoring system. This system makes it possible to insert the tiles easily into fresh concrete. Should the top of the panels ever wear out or get damaged and need to be replaced, you do not have to remove the entire tile. Rather, the top part of the panel can be replaced by removing the heavy-duty metal bolts, installing the new panel, and tightening the bolts.
    • Surface Applied: Our Surface Applied warning tiles are a good solution when you are retrofitting an existing concrete surface or for a new construction project when you are looking for a cost-effective solution. The panels are secured directly on top of the existing surface by using structural adhesive and securing them into the cement with anchors and stainless steel fasteners.
    • Cast-in-Place: Our Cast-in-Place warning surface tiles are made of durable materials, so they last a long time. They are ideal when constructing new curb ramps or newly poured cement. The tiles are pressed directly into freshly poured concrete and will remain in place once the concrete has fully cured.
    • Radius Systems: Our Radius Systems were designed to make it easier to work around public spaces with curves. The curved tactile system is made of the same high-quality materials as our rectangular panels. This system is popular with our accessibility-conscious engineers, contractors, government representatives, project managers, and engineers.
    • Cast Iron Tactile Plate Systems: One of our newest products, our Cast Iron Tactile Plate Systems are made of top-quality cast iron. They are well-suited for multiple applications and provide superior shopping cart, wheelchair, and walker mobility and slip-resistance.
    • Wayfinding Systems: Our Wayfinding Systems have set the industry standard for over two decades. They are designed to be used on both new and existing concrete substrates. They can be used as Directional Bard and Guide Surface Tiles to help direct the flow of pedestrians.
    • Replaceable Graphic Tile Systems: These detectable warning surface tiles serve two purposes: to help provide warnings to people that caution is required and to provide graphics and text images to those without visual impairments. The tiles can be customized with your own message, colors, fonts, and even reflective ink.
People standing at a station behind the detectable warning surface

A train station which has a yellow detectable warning surface installed at the end of the platform

  • Photoluminescent Systems: Our Glow-Dome™ photoluminescent systems are well-suited for use in areas where there are lowered light levels or walkways you want to illuminate after dark or as a safety preparedness measure in case of power failure. The tiles do not require any power source and are charged by ambient or natural light. They help provide visual cues to pedestrians and can be incorporated with our other warning surface products to further increase safety.

Many of our ADA detectable warning surface products are available in a wide range of colors. The only ADA requirement is that the tiles must contrast in color with the surface material where they are being used. However, it should be noted that certain municipalities and states may have their own specific color requirements.

It is highly advisable to check your local and state requirements prior to deciding on what color of warning surface tiles you want to use. ADA Solutions can also lend our expertise and assistance, as we are aware of most local and state color requirements or can direct you to the proper resources.

For further information about how our detectable warning surface products can help improve your public spaces and make them safer for everyone, advice on selecting the right products, or further questions, please feel free to contact ADA Solutions at 800-372-0519 today!