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Seiichi Miyake and the "Tenji Block" for the visually impaired

Posted by Guest Post on March 18, 2019

Photo by Ratth from iStock

Today's Google doodle is paying tribute to the Japenese inventor Seiichi Miyake whos invention the tactile yellow paving slabs, otherwise known as a "tenji block" transformed the way the visually impaired navigate around big cities, railways and parks. 

The invention came to mind when Miyake learned that his close friend was losing his ability to see clearly and wanted to help him. The paving slab was invented in 1965 and was first installed in the Japenese city, Okayama in March 1967 next to a school for the blind. 

The design would go on to be revolutionary, making it safer and easier for visually impaired people to navigate public spaces independently. The original design was installed in all Japanese railway platforms in the 1970s and featured two tactile patterns that can be detected with a cane or through your feet and provide cues on which way to move.

The two slabs feature different patterns, one has a series of raised lines that indicate to go forward. The other design is often referred to as "truncated domes" and consists of a series of small bumps that tell the pedestrian to stop. These are often found at road crossings and train platforms. This revolutionary invention has since had more designs, such as horizontal lines that indicate that there are steps ahead.

This type of paving is incredibly important for the visually impaired when navigating independently through cities and public spaces. We greatly believe in maintaining independence and feature a huge range of visual aids for anyone living with sight loss and visual impairment.