14/10/2011

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Easier orientation for the blind and visually impaired

[image_0]The system involves sticking signs or tiles to the floor, which although they are only a few millimeters high, can still be felt as people walk on them. These tactile elements are made from Desmopan DP 3059D, a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) from Bayer MaterialScience (BMS). Andaluz Acessibilidade sells the tactile signage system under the name Tátil Fácil. The elements are available with different surface structures, shapes and colours (for the vision-impaired and for normal-sighted people). "It is also possible to incorporate a further differentiation into the signs, for example for identifying access to different subway lines," said Marco Baptista, Product Manager at Andaluz Acessibilidade. The tactile flooring is inexpensive and easy to lay. A video showing this can be viewed below. The first step is to define the position of the tactile signs on the floor with the help of a stencil that is secured to the floor with adhesive tape. The area in question is first cleaned and the stencil fixed in the marked position so that it can not slip. The TPU elements are then inserted into the recesses of the stencil and stuck to the floor. All that then needs to be done is to remove the stencil and the adhesive tape, and the floor is ready to be walked on again. The system is already being used in various banks, shopping centres, and subway stations in Brazil. "I can well imagine applications in other regions of the world in the future," said Mathias Lauter, TPU Business Development expert at BMS. "The demand for this system is considerable and the benefits are obvious." Because of its properties, the Desmopan plastic is well suited to this application. It is abrasion and scratch-resistant, and is also resistant to chemicals and cleaning agents. It also offers plenty of design scope, five years warranty, and can be produced in virtually any colour. According to BMS, the material also offers advantages over possible alternative materials. With concrete signage, for example, a small area first has to be removed from the floor and the appropriate elements inserted into it. To provide the required orientation, these elements then have to be painted or covered with coloured adhesive film. With this system, the laying process is therefore much more time-consuming. And studs and panels made of rubber are far less wear-resistant than TPU signs and, because of their thickness, they, too, have to be cut into the floor, says the company.



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