Unexpected "drop-offs" are among the biggest fears of people who have impaired vision. The drop can be a step, stair or platform edge at a railway station. Effective design and construction will assist people to negotiate stairs and other drop-offs safely and independently.
When designing and maintaining stairs, important considerations include:
- Regularity of stair construction.
- All steps and stairs should have their nosing (the front edge of the tread) marked with an appropriate contrasting strip, as per Australian Standard 1428.1.
- Correct placement of TGSI, to indicate the beginning of stairs.
- Sufficient lighting or illumination.
- Appropriately positioned handrails. Guide Dogs NSW/ACT highly recommends that a handrail contrasts with the wall surface, to improve visibility according to Australian Standard 1428.2. It should also extend horizontally beyond the end of the stairs and curve under on the ends to avoid collision.
- Stairs should not be positioned immediately inside or outside doorways, as people who have vision impairment may not have enough time to detect them when walking through the doorway.
- Stairs should not be open. Australian Standard 1428.1 says that stairs require an opaque riser.
- The underneath of stair cases should be enclosed to prevent a head-height hazard for people who have impaired vision.
For more detailed information on stair and step construction, please refer to Australian Standard 1428.1.
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