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Understanding the Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act requires accessible environments to be provided for disabled people, either in their place of work or for access to goods, services or facilities (public spaces). Those commissioning new buildings or adaptations to existing buildings must consider the implications of the Equality Act and their ability to provide buildings that do not discriminate against disabled people (physical or mental impairments).

When specifying ceramics there are two main areas of relevance within the Equality Act as below:

Colour Reflectance (contrast) 

The Act gives guidance on good visual contrast for the visually impaired between various elements of a building by the use of Light Reflectance Values (LRV).

LRV is a general term for contrast and is measured as the proportion of useful light reflected by a coloured object, floor, wall or ceiling. LRV is measure on a scale of 0 to 100 where 0 is perfect black and 100 perfect white (in reality 0 and 100 are unobtainable colours). According to NCS Colour Centre in practical terms black is approx 6 and white approx 85.

The current guidelines from Building Regulations Approved Document M on contrast are that a minimum different of 30 LRV points should be specified for adjacent surfaces to ensure that visually impaired people are not discriminated against. In specific example of ceramic tiles this difference should be between:

Floors to walls
Ceiling to walls
Handrails to walls
Sanitary fittings to walls

Visual contrast between floors and walls is important in enabling visually impaired people to assess and gauge the size and shape of a room. It is important the greatest visual contrast occurs where the floor meets the wall (skirting) as this gives the most accurate visual indication of the extent of the room. Where provided, skirtings should contrast visually with the floor and be similar in colour and tone to wall surface.

Tactile Foot Braille (shod trafficked areas)    

Recommendations from the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR), the joint mobility unit of the RNIB and the Centre for Accessible Environments (CAE) led to the need for Tactiles to be used as warning features for stairs, ramps and platforms.

Available in 400x400x10mm format and 2 colour options the Johnson Tactile System offers compliance with not only the Equality Act requirements but also the DETR, RNIB and CAE recommendations. Specified correctly the Johnson Tactile System will ensure that any new building Access Audits will be compliant with the Access to Good and Services as part of the Equality Act.

The Johnson Tactile System is manufactured to the highest technical performance standards. The surface of the Tactile products have the enhanced performance qualities of a slip resistance durundum inclusion in the surface of the tile. 

The Corduroy profile is designed to warm visually impaired people of the presence of specific hazards. Such a profile is 'Foot Braille' and is a warning association with steps, ramps or the approach to on-street light rapid transit platforms. The Corduroy profile is an internationally accepted Tactile surface that conveys the message of hazard and implies proceed with caution. 

The Blister profile is designed to warn visually impaired people of the edge of all off-street platforms. The profile consists of a series of offset, flat topped dome studs. The parallel rows of studs are designed to be installed at right angles to direction of traffic and are normally located behind the platform edge coping. Please note that this information is not exhaustive and requirements at time of specification must be checked.

The Equality Act details given above are intended as an outline guide only.