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The City of Sydney is road testing a new network of street signs designed to make the streets easier and safer for people with vision impairments.

Prototype tactile street signs with location information in braille and raised lettering will be on display this week at Alfred Place so people who rely on them to get around can give the City feedback about the user experience.

Trial testing on Thursday of full-scale mock-up signs will involve Vision Australia and Guide Dogs NSW/ACT. The rollout is part of the Liveable Green Network program, a ten-year plan to encourage walking and cycling by making Sydney’s streets pedestrian-friendly and give people living with disabilities equal access to city streets, buildings and facilities.

“Ensuring everyone can easily find their way around is an important part of creating a liveable global City,” said Lord Mayor Clover Moore.

“A city for walking is a people-friendly city. It makes getting around our city an enjoyable experience for tourists, workers and residents, and it benefits the local economy by encouraging people to explore local restaurants, shops and businesses as they pass by.

“Walking is the way 93 per cent of people get around our city on any given day, and good access to the City’s streets is essential for all. We have been working with Vision Australia and Guide Dogs NSW/ACT to do just that.”

An important part of the plan is to introduce a network of predictable tactile signs, giving pedestrians confidence they will be able to locate where they are throughout their journey and arrive easily and safely at their destination. During the trial, signs will be placed next to pedestrian crossing buttons on traffic light poles.

The City of Sydney was one of the first cities to install signs for the vision impaired in the early 1990s, but these signs have become unreadable because the rubber tactile lettering and braille has since worn out.

Other people with speech or hearing impairments will also be able to use the signs. The new signs ensure they will not have to rely on passersby for help with directions, allowing them to retain their independence and dignity.

Prototypes for the rollout of its wider collection of new street signs will be on trial at Alfred Place for the week. The new signs will include features such as maps, neighbourhood names and distances to landmarks. These signs will be gauged for legibility of the font, colour scheme and design.

The most popular signs will be placed throughout the City over the next decade, with information on how to find major landmarks, information about distances and maps of the area.

Pedestrians are often discouraged by inconsistent signs and confusion about distances between areas.

Meanwhile, the number of people considered blind or with impaired vision is increasing as Australia’s baby boomers retire.

According to Susan Thompson, Advocacy Advisor at Vision Australia, braille and tactile signs can make a huge difference to a person’s ability to navigate around the city.

“Speaking as someone who is totally blind, the ability to easily confirm you whereabouts through braille or tactile signs really helps to build confidence when travelling independently. Vision Australia commends the City of Sydney in taking this step towards creating a more inclusive society for Sydney residents.”

City officers will be available from 10am until 3pm to receive feedback on the test.