Some of you may already know about the Google “doodles”, those renditions of the Google logo on its home page that change from time to time to celebrate great people, works of art, inventions, notable anniversaries and other occasions. Sometimes the doodle is interactive, containing a small video or game to play but most of the time it is a temporary image which if clicked links to more details of the occasion it has been created to celebrate.
Today’s doodle is an image of a tactile pavement, as seen in cities and towns the world over. Whilst these areas of paving can be horrendous for wheelchair users, they are an essential tool in safe navigation by blind and partially sighted people and there’s an interesting story behind them.
The inventor of these paving slabs, Japanese man Seiichi Miyake, found out a close friend was losing their ability to see clearly and decided to try and help. Using his own finances he started development on what he named the Tenji block in 1965, completing development and introducing the blocks in 1967 outside a school for the blind in Japan.
Many people will now be familiar with the “knobbly” or “bumpy” blocks on the approach to road crossings or at railway platforms but there have been other designs used to denote various hazards and to guide blind and partially sighted people in particular directions.
These blocks are a simple idea that became hugely successful as they can be felt either with a cane or through the feet.