Peruvian cement manufacturer Cemento Sol, the Miraflores District Municipality and advertising agency Circus Grey Peru are literally paving the way to independence for the visually impaired in Miraflores in Lima, Peru, with a series of specially designed cement tiles.
The initiative, named Sidewalks to See or SightWalks, is a simple yet effective system that employs tactile tiles marked with distinct lines that allow visually impaired and blind citygoers to identify and locate nearby amenities, such as eateries, shops and hospitals. The number of vertical lines – one for restaurants, two for banks, three for grocery stores, four for pharmacies, five for bus stops and six for hospitals – can tell them what the business next to the sign is through the touch of their canes, while other horizontal lines identify if the place is to the left or the right of the tile.
Most exciting is the news that while Cemento Sol developed the system, the company will not be gatekeeping the project. Instead, the tiles are a copyright-free invention and are open-source for any city, organisation or person to use in the hope of making life easier for the visually impaired.
Cemento Sol also collaborated with advertising agency Circus Grey Peru on a commercial that explains the Sidewalks to See project. According to the video, ‘In Peru, the main disability is visual impairment.’ It goes on to explain that most visually impaired people rely on the help of others to guide them through cities. ‘In collaboration with different organisations for the blind, we designed a new system that allows them to find the places they need for themselves.’
Before successfully implementing the project in Miraflores, the cement company engaged in collaborative efforts with various associations for the visually impaired across Peru. The purpose was to validate and test the cement sidewalk tiles, ensuring that they facilitate independent mobility for the visually impaired without the need for assistance.