Truncated Domes: A Cheat Sheet

Truncated Domes



For decades, designers of public spaces did not consider the special needs of people with disabilities. Finally, in 1990, the United States government has passed the “American with Disabilities Act,” also known as ADA.

What is good about this law is that it provides the accessibility standards when buildings, as well as public spaces, are designed and constructed.

Truncated domes are among the top features of ADA design for access in public buildings and spaces. ADA truncated domes have become a part and parcel when it comes to designing and constructing public spaces.

But despite the fact that truncated domes on asphalt surface or concrete surfaces have become a part of our everyday lives, not a lot know their purpose, and how to use them.

So, if you’ve ever wondered, “What are those bumpy yellow rectangles at curbs? And along railway platforms?”, here is a cheat sheet for you.

Why do we need truncated domes?

Under ADA, truncated domes are referred to as warning surfaces that are detectable to persons with disabilities. ADA tactile warning mats have surfaces that have low bumps. Their objective is to alert people they are near a street crossing or a drop-off that could prove to be potentially hazardous. These bumps can be detected by a blind person using a cane, or felt underfoot.

Self-adhesive truncated domes, at the same time, should not present mobility issues for other people. Because of this, the ADA put in place strict guidelines when it comes to their height, width, as well as spacing of the domes.

Where do we use truncated domes?

We use them at curb ramps or on areas such as transit platforms, such as those you can find in an elevated rail system or a subway.

Truncated domes help provide a visual as well as a tactile warning that there is going to have an elevation change in a specific area, or that a person is moving from a pedestrian zone into a zone with car traffic.

Do they have to come in yellow?

The truth is, a lot of truncated domes out there come in yellow color. That is why it is not surprising that many people think the law mandates that specific color. But the truth is, it does not have to be that case.

Under the law, it only says the truncated domes have to offer a specific level of contrast, in contrast with nearby walking surfaces whether it is day or night.

Federal law allows states to choose the specific color of their truncated domes. However, some states may have specific regulations regarding their color.

However, even though it is not stated by law, the color yellow remains the popular choice for these truncated domes. First, because the color contrasts immediately with various paving materials around the domes. In addition, yellow is commonly regarded as the color of caution, making it a useful color in various hazard warning systems.

Of course, one can try red, given that it offers a similar purpose, although this might signal pedestrians to stop and look for their immediate surroundings before they continue.

Final word

When looking for truncated dome mats that are simple and quick to use, check out the self-adhesive style of truncated domes. These products can be installed in a few minutes, and do not require special tools or skills.

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