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Sydney’s New Signs

By Kenn Leong

Sydney is a city that is well known for it’s international standards, however, in recent weeks; the city of Sydney has made another announcement, upping the game yet again.

From now on, both vision impaired residents and visitors will be able to manage their way around the city safely and more conveniently thanks to new what the council claims is the world’s most comprehensive network of braille and tactile road signs.

In current announcements, the city of Sydney said that each tactile aluminum panel would feature both street names and building numbers as well as large, raised lettering to allow touch-reading by people who are blind and close range reading for those with low vision. These will be placed next to push buttons at signalized crossings throughout the City of Sydney area.

Although the panels were specifically designed to help the vision impaired, the initiative aims to better signage as a whole for those across the board. Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore even said that the new signs were part of a bigger plan to make Sydney more inclusive and accessible to everyone. She went on to say that the importance of well thought-out urban design could not be understated in this regard. Her aim is to make sure that people are able to be active and make meaningful connections in their communities.

“This step is a great advancement for Sydney and we feel that it will allow for people to truly be able to live their lives to the fullest, irrespective of their circumstances.” Craig Pontey.

So far, 2,100 of the signs have been installed and the number aims to increase over the next few weeks. The panel network is part of the City ‘legible Sydney wayfinding system, which also includes pedestrian-friendly maps, information pylons, news signs and digital technology.

There are nearly 10,000 people with permanent vision loss throughout NSW and it’s expected to grow by 20% in the next four years.

Nicole Holmes, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Access and Technology Officer, who even uses a guide dog herself said that the signs were easy to read and allowed those with vision impairment to move through the city with a lot more confidence. Holmes said that from her personal experience, the ability to identify her location without needing to count streets or engage in other forms of orientation strategies enabled her to move through the city with lower levels of stress and anxiety.

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