03 Mar

The History of the Detectable Warning Dome Tile

Tactile paving, now known as detectable warning dome tiles, was first developed by Seiichi Miyake in 1965 to help people with vision impairments navigate public spaces.  Major cities and transportation networks throughout the world use detectable warning dome tiles.
Seiichi Miyake, the Japanese inventor of tactile paving, designed this world-changing system because a good friend of his was losing his vision. Using his own resources, Miyake designed, developed, and built special mats with raised shapes to lead people with vision impairments away from danger. He used rounded bumps to signal danger, such as a street or platform edge. Straight bars provided directional guidance to safety.
First named Tenji blocks, the detectable warning dome tiles were installed outside the Okayama School for the Blind in Japan in 1967. Within a decade, the system was mandatory for all of Japanese rail stations. In 1985, the system of tactile pavement was named “Hazard Guide for the Vision Impaired.”
By the 1990s, the system was being used in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. And in 2000, Australia had the tactile pavement used throughout its Olympic games facilities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed in 1990, and it required businesses and public spaces to remove barriers that would prove difficult for individuals with impairments to navigate certain spaces. The detectable warning surfaces became an important factor as well, being defined as a distinct surface with a pattern or raised domes to alert individuals with disabilities about upcoming hazards.
In the United States, tactile pavement became a part of the built environment due to the ADA Accessibility legislation. In 2001, detectable warning dome tiles began to be used at sidewalk curb cuts. New York City, specifically, has developed a wide network of tactile pavement throughout its subway platforms and sidewalks over the two decades since ADA was signed.
While the contrast of the detectable warning dome tiles with the surrounding pavement provide visual warning to individuals with sight, the raised dots and ridges help individuals with vision impairment. It’s been noted that these raised domes and bars can cause difficulty for someone with crutches.
Though this idea was born in 1965, it’s taken over fifty years for it to be implemented and maintained through most cities.
Since the ADA was passed in the United States, detectable warning surfaces have experienced a number of advancements.
The first tactile surfaces were a combination of stamping the concrete to create raised domes. However, this solution wore away quickly, and it became difficult to determine if the sidewalk had warning surfaces or cracks.
Another variation in tactile warning surfaces were bricks with raised domes. Not only were they tricky to install from leveling the ground to filling gaps, the domes still wore off. The bricks also tended to become uneven, causing potential tripping hazards.
From there, detectable warning dome tiles have dabbled in other types of materials, such as rubber, metal, and plastic. Coloring the materials required attention as well, since the material needed to maintain a color contrast to its surrounding pathway. Installation processes were adjusted. From stamped to concrete inserts, a search ensued for excellent adherence that would remain ADA compliant long-term.
Present day detectable warning dome tiles must be reliable and durable from installation to long-term color and use. From surface-applied to cast-in-place, installation processes have improved greatly since the 1990s as have the materials used in ADA compliant detectable warning dome tiles.
At StrongGo, we have developed an ADA detectable warning system installation process that creates a secure bond between the tile and concrete. Our ADA domes are made of nano-engineered polymer concrete with a low water absorption rate and installed with anchors into wet-set concrete to establish a secure and solid bond.
Explore your ADA detectable warning dome tile solutions today by speaking with an industry expert by emailing