Adding High Contrast Tape to Stairs for Safety

Are you low vision or visually impaired? Do you struggle with locating the top and bottoms of stairs? Do stairs sometimes look like they are blending in with one another? Are you afraid of falling up or down the stairs? If you answered yes to any of these questions then what I am going to share with you today may be a good solution for you.  For a video demonstration you can click here.

wooded stairs in a forest looking from top to bottom.
Stairs visually blending in, look like a ramp not stairs

Traveling up and down stairs can be a fearful experience for someone who is low vision or visually impaired. When someone has limited functional vision trying to locate stairs especially the top and bottom step can be a daunting and anxiety-provoking activity both at home or out in public. Many adults I have worked with tell me this is there number one fear when traveling independently. The last thing anyone wants is to have a fall which leads to a serious injury and a decrease in quality of life. Finding ways to help lower that risk I believe is extremely important whether that be using a white cane, guide dog, or other tools.

brown teddy bear covered in bandages. one on the head bandaids on the heart and bandage on right leg
Stuffed teddy bear with bandages on

One solution I have found to be very helpful is the addition of high contrast markings to the edge of stairs. This can be done in several different ways but today I will be discussing how to use high contrast color tape to achieve this goal. What makes tape such a good option is it’s cheap, easily available, and simple to apply.

Here is one thing you should never do on the stairs!

Magnifying glass over the words frequently asked questions
Frequently asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions:

What color should I use?

              This depends a lot on the type of stairs and what color stands out most to a person. What I have noticed is people tend to like black on light-colored stairs such as concrete. And yellow on dark-colored stairs or in dimly lit areas. There is also stripped black and yellow tape that provides both colors in one tape. Another thing to note is that one color may work great for someone on one set of stairs but not somewhere else because of the large variation in environmental factors. I would highly recommend trying different colors to find out which works best in a particular environment.

What texture tape should I use?

This depends a lot of preference but I tend to like the rough anti-slip style tape in outdoor environments and regular texture tape indoors.

Where should I apply the tape?

When applying tape to the stairs I like to apply it to the middle edge of each step. My goal is to have the tape as visible as possible. I also recommend taping each step if possible but at minimum the top and bottom stair.

black and yellow striped tape on top and bottom step of brown wood staircase
Black and Yellow striped tape placed on the middle edge of the step

Where can I buy high contrast tape?

High contrast tape can be purchased in many different places both online and in person. Here are just a few options.

Maxiaids

Amazon

Duct Tape is also another option. It comes in all different colors and can be bought at many different stores. I do find duct tape tends to wear out a little faster then the previous options.

DuckBrand

Taping stairs with high contrast tape may be a great option for you and is worth a try. However, if you are still struggling with stairs or getting around I would highly recommend meeting with an Orientation and Mobility Specialist who can help teach you some safe stair travel strategies and assist with marking stairs.

Bumping into door frames? Click here for another way of using high contrast tape.

Published by Mike Mulligan

Is a Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist who provides product resources, reviews, and tutorials.

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