The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) places great emphasis on the need for people to clearly see the edges of floor transitions. The ADA guidelines and rules are not just about preventing and marking bumps under wheelchair wheels! It is about all of us needing to see under low-light conditions, and these conditions occur in many places outside of the theatre, too.
- When light levels are low our vision becomes monochromatic (black and white, or really shades of gray), so there is less information for our brain to process. Strike One.
- We usually don't look directly where we are going to step, we rely on our peripheral vision, which is much less detailed than our central cone of vision. Strike two.
- Where we step is largely governed by out sense of where we think our feet are going, and a large dose of trust that the destination is safe (i.e. flat, level, and large enough to stand upon). If it's not, then Strike 3.
The diamond plate tread pattern can be helpful if you have a coarse tread work shoe, but if there is very much dust build-up it can still be quite slippery.
One way to retrofit steps for traction and visibility is to add a stair nosing assembly that has both traction grit and a photoluminescent strip combined. The GBC ST-1001 Bull Nose Stair Nosing is a good example of this type of product.