The Use of Tactile Indicator Studs in Stairways
02 Jan

The Use of Tactile Indicator Studs in Stairways

Adam Latham

The purpose of tactile indicator studs is to create a textured ground surface on public pathways and access routes with a distinctive, consistent and readily-recognised surface pattern that is detectable by a long cane or underfoot. The textured surface is used to assist vision-impaired pedestrians to navigate the urban landscape and alert them to the presence of potential hazards and provide directional information. 

Unlike other construction safety materials such as handrails or non-slip step treads — which have more general pedestrian safety applications — tactile indicator studs are specifically designed to assist those with vision impairments. 

Safety Standards of Tactile Indicators

The Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission released guidelines on access to buildings and services in 2007, under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. This recommends the use of AS/NZS 1428.4 Design for access and mobility – Tactile Indicators.

B7jjINMwThe Building Code of Australia (BCA) specifies at D3.8 where tactile indicator studs must be provided and requires compliance with the relevant parts of AS 1428.4 that specifies technical details such as size, location and luminance contrast. 

For example, the standard states that tactile indicator studs are required to identify the top nosing and the bottom riser of a staircase, or the beginning and end of ramps. The array of tactile indicator studs must have a minimum depth of 600mm, and they should be set back by 300mm +/-10mm from the top nosing and bottom riser. In addition, the array must be placed across the full width of the path of travel and have a minimum of 30% luminance contrast compared to the surrounding floor/ground surface. 

When a vision-impaired pedestrian detects tactile indicators underfoot, they will know that they are 300mm from a stairway or a change in gradient. 

Tactile Indicator Studs and Intermediate Landings 

67k5v5nwTactile indicator studs are only required on an intermediate landing if there is a break in any handrail that is required to cross the landing. Vision-impaired pedestrians will often use the handrail as their guide when using stairs. Often the handrail on a landing will end if another path of travel, such as a walkway or a door, enters the stairway. For a vision-impaired pedestrian, the break in the handrail might mistakenly be interpreted as having reached the top or bottom of the staircase. Similarly, a vision-impaired pedestrian entering the landing from a cross walkway needs to be made aware of the presence of a stairway. 

Canva Design DAE1p4wzSA8

Latham Australia is a third-generation family-owned business founded in the early 1950’s. They  pioneered the manufacture of tactile indicator studs in the Australian market in the 1980’s. The Latham tactile indicator stud range is considered the go-to option for architects and builders seeking the most trusted construction products on the market. 

To find out more about Latham products, please visit To talk to a Latham product expert, call 1300 LATHAM (528 426) or email 

New call-to-action

Adam Latham

As the Technical Sales & Product Development Manager at Latham Australia, I am responsible for ensuring that all our products will meet the specified needs of architects and the buildings they design, now and into the future. Along with mentoring and supporting our sales team, I work closely with our factory production team, direct clients and distribution partners to develop new products to satisfy an ever changing market. All in all, my job involves knowing everything there is to know about the Latham products - how we manufacture them, what they are used for and how much our customers know they can rely on them.

Keep me updated.

Pop your email in below and get the latest news and trends in the building industry in your inbox.