New signs to make city streets more accessible

The most extensive network of pedestrian braille signs in Australia will soon be rolled-out, linking the entire City of Sydney through prominent, interactive and easy-to-follow signs and messages.

The roll out of the new-look signs follows a trial at Circular Quay, where elements such as text, font size, colours, legibility and layout were tested. As part of the first stage of the project, some 38 prototypes of the new tactile signs will be installed along one of the city’s busy pedestrian routes in the city centre.

Results of this first stage will be used to refine the design before the full roll-out of an estimated 2,000 signs at all signalised pedestrian crossings across the City of Sydney’s 26 square kilometre local government area.

Vision Australia and Guide Dogs NSW/ACT were consulted during the design phase to create suitable tactile elements. The designs were also reviewed by the City’s own access and disability panel.

Vision Australia and Guide Dogs NSW/ACT have welcomed the new signage, saying there was a need for clear, consistent and accessible wayfinding information.

“Being able to get around safely and with confidence is really important,” said Vision Australia’s General Manager of client services in NSW, Michael Simpson. “The proposed signs will improve access for thousands of Sydneysiders and visitors to our beautiful city who, like me, are blind or have low vision.”

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Community Education Coordinator, Jennifer Moon, said: “Braille and tactile signage is a valuable tool for reassuring people with vision loss that they are heading in the right direction to their destination, and complements the assistance they may get from a long cane or a guide dog.

“We congratulate the City of Sydney on taking the initiative to ensure people with vision impairment can more easily and safely navigate the city.”

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the advanced wayfinding system will help make Sydney an even more enjoyable, welcoming and safe city to explore on foot.

“Wayfinding has been identified as a critical step in the City of Sydney’s plan to create a liveable green network where walking is quick, convenient and easy for everyone,” said the Lord Mayor.

“Improving the City’s walking infrastructure will deliver economic, environmental and health benefits for residents, visitors and businesses.”

Following Council’s endorsement of the signage tender this week, the design and documentation of the tactile street signs is underway.

The new tactile signs will feature white lettering and braille on an aluminium mounting plate. They will be placed next to pedestrian crossing push buttons, providing the street name and property numbers in large font, raised contrast lettering and braille. This will allow touch reading by people who are blind, as well as reading at close range by those with low vision.

A QR code to improve accessibility and broaden the available information on the signs will also be tested. The new tactile signs will replace the rubber signs that were installed in the early 1990s, when Sydney was one of the first cities in the world to put up signs for people who are blind or vision impaired.

While the new signs are specifically to help people who are blind and vision impaired, it will also make street location information easier to access for all pedestrians.

The new tactile signs are just one element of an extensive $8 million wayfinding network that will eventually connect the entire City of Sydney by signs, maps and digital technology – all making it easier for city residents, workers and visitors to walk more.

For media enquiries, contact Matthew Moore, 0431 050 963 or email mmoore@cityopfsydney.nsw.gov.au

For interviews with the Lord Mayor, please contact Jonathon Larkin, 0477 310 149 or email jlarkin@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

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