Why Are Certain Colors Used for Tactile Warning Surfaces?


Are you among the people who don’t understand the purpose of the unique raised truncated domes that are usually placed along the edge of a subway or busy intersections? Well, the detectable warning surfaces are specially designed and texture tiles that are meant to provide physical warning signs that an individual is coming closer to a potentially dangerous area.

The tactile surfaces meet ADA requirements provide useful cues to both visually and non-visually impaired people. These surfaces come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and styles depending on the specific areas where they will be installed. They also come in different color, so you may have encountered tactile surfaces that are white, black, red or a combination of more than one color.

Why Do They Come in Different Colors?

Although the ADA Act doesn’t have a unique set of color requirement that should be used to manufacture these surfaces, the Act provides general guidelines with regards to the use of color. The Act requires all detectable tactile surfaces to have a color that contrasts the entire adjacent walking surface. This means that if the warning surface is dark, then the adjacent path should be light and vice versa.

All businesses, municipalities, and other parties must ensure that all tactile warning surfaces are visible and conform to all the federal laws. However, they are free to choose any color and pattern that they wish as long as the chosen color adheres to the ADA requirements of contrast.

What Is the Purpose of Each Color?

Sometimes, the color of the warning surfaces can be used to serve a specific purpose. For instance, the traditional yellow color is mostly used to signify caution. Some cities will use brick red or bright red to serve a similar purpose. Still, some laws in different states will only allow the use of red tactile surfaces in all areas that are considered a crossing or a controlled pedestrian walkway.

The bright blue color, on the hand, is mostly associated with handicap accessibility. This means that the bright blue color will still serve the same purpose when used on the truncated domes. Some of the other colors that you will mostly encounter in different states include:

  • Dark gray
  • Brown
  • Light yellow
  • Dark
  • Black
  • Red/ Orange-red
  • White
  • Light gray

Most manufacturers use these colors just for aesthetic reasons and mostly, they don’t have any unique purpose/role that they serve. Businesses can still use custom colors as long as the specific state requirements and the warning surface satisfy all the ADA requirements.

These custom colors can be a blend of just any color shades. Some small enterprises also choose to use colors that can easily be changed over time. For instance, a local retail shop can have warning surfaces with colors that reflect the various seasons of the year.

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