5 insanely braille eye wash stationdisabled access standards: 1 of 5 Braille Signage

Growing acceptance around building law is key to improving compliance outcomes, but its a hard task to get acceptance when a law baffles logic, costs money, time and reduces our capacity to get the job done.

Let’s tackle the top 5 codes that undermine all good intentions to improve project outcomes for people with disabilities.

No. 1 Braille signage on toilet doors

Braille signage ranks as the number one defunct access standard for reason of its prevalence and financial cost for no known community benefit.

The science

Best estimates from the U.S. for Braille literacy is about 1 person in 60,000. This already slim ratio shrinks again considering Braille readers are migrating to preferred information technologies such as word to text and read-out-aloud, which are now fast, mobile and stable ways to get way-finding and navigation information.

What builders are saying.

  1. We’re just not seeing people walking around feeling the walls for Braille.
  2. If a person had a white cane in a pub, and started feeling the walls, then it would be pretty obvious somethings up and a reasonable person would logically get up and give directions or lead the way.
  3. If a person was in a wheelchair and relied on braille, then they would have multiple disabilities, and statistically, have a care-giver.
  4. If a person was in a wheelchair, but had a vision impaired care giver, then the person in the chair would likely have reasonable vision, or there is a serious navigation issue that wont be solved with Braille signage.
  5. Whats more important, the raised image or the Braille?  If a user can read Braille, surely they can read the raised symbol? Why have both?

The costs

Toilet signs with Braille lettering costs upwards of $60, whereas a toilet sign without braille can be as little as $2.00.  A bank of toilets has a minimum of 5 signs, (1 M, 1 F, 1 A+, then 1 Ambulant M and 1 AF). That’s $300 compared to $10.

The global expenditure on Braille signage is estimated at over 1 Billion per annum.

Who benefits

Standard committees for braille signage are loaded with sign manufacturers who profit directly from braille codes and standards. Other organisations like Guide Dogs and Vision Australia don’t keep statistics on Braille literacy or vision impairment types, making it impossible to determine any benefit.


Braille signage in access standards might be a guilt-trip or a feel-good thing, but the reality is that it’s of no known benefit, and very expensive.  Considering the costs and benefits, it’s more feasible to provide every braille reader with a personal assistant than to require Braille signage everywhere, which if the stats are true, will never be touched by a Braille reader.

Next week No. 2 of 5

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