18 Mar: Braille For Your Feet

Tenji blocks (点字ブロック) – small raised shapes in the pavement to assist visually impaired people in crossing the road – were first installed near the Okayama School for the Blind in Japan on March 18th, 1967. 

Designed by Seiichi Miyake (三宅精一), the innovation gained traction in urban areas like Tokyo and Osaka, gradually spreading nationwide, particularly in bustling cities where safety for visually impaired individuals was paramount. But Miyake died before witnessing the global implementation of his invention.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explain why frosted-up number plates play their part in the Tenji design story; consider future enhancements, such as embedding QR codes into pavements; and reveal why retrofitting wasn’t always a straightforward solution… 

Further Reading:

• ‘How Japanese Inventor of Tenji Blocks Changed the Lives of Millions Around the World’ (JAPAN Forward, 2019): https://japan-forward.com/how-japanese-inventor-of-tenji-blocks-changed-the-lives-of-millions-around-the-world/

• ‘Seiichi Miyake: His tactile blocks impacted railway platforms and streets’ (CNN, 2019): https://edition.cnn.com/2019/03/18/world/seiichi-miyake-tactile-blocks-impact-trnd/index.html

• ‘Tactile paving slab | Object in Focus’ (V&A, 2020):

#Design #Japan #Disability #60s