|October 28, 2002|
Attached for the Board's consideration are the comments of the Association for
Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER). These
comments were prepared after long and thoughtful scrutiny by members of AER's
Orientation and Mobility Division. Please direct requests for further
information to Janet M. Barlow [...]
AER and its members appreciate the opportunity to submit these comments and commend the Access Board for its diligence in addressing these pressing issues.
Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired
Contact: Janet M. Barlow
SUBJECT: Draft Guidelines for Accessible Public Rights-of-Way (June 17, 2002)
The Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) is an international membership organization of approximately 4600 professionals. Its mission is “to develop and promote professional excellence through support of those who provide education and rehabilitation services to people with visual impairments”. The Orientation and Mobility Division of AER represents over 1000 orientation and mobility specialists, individuals who teach independent travel skills to persons who are blind or visually impaired. Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists (COMS) are graduates of specialized college degree programs in education and/or rehabilitation. The following information and recommendations have been developed by the members of the Environmental Access Committee of AER's Orientation and Mobility Division.
We are delighted that guidelines for the public rights-of-way are now being developed that will address the needs of pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired. Following these recommendations is a resolution passed at the AER conference this summer in support of these guidelines. The transportation and public works community needs guidelines and specific direction to provide facilities that are accessible to pedestrians who are visually impaired or blind.
We are particularly pleased that specifications for detectable warnings and accessible pedestrian signals have been included. As representatives of a profession that has taught travel skills to individuals who are blind over the past 50 years, we recognize the evolution of intersection design and traffic control that now necessitates some of the modifications and accommodations that these guidelines require. Comparing a photo of an intersection in the 1960’s with a photo of a current intersection makes it clear that the tasks and issues have changed. While individuals who are blind do cross streets without accessible pedestrian signals and do manage to locate the street edge without detectable warnings, these two tasks, in particular, have become much more difficult, and sometimes impossible, in the past twenty years due to changes in intersection design and signalization.
We strongly support the draft guidelines. The implementation of the draft recommendations on Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) and the resultant improvement in predictability and accessibility will go a long way towards insuring that the pedestrian environment remains accessible into the future. Please note in our comments, however, that we recommend that the Access Board add additional language specifying types of intersections where APS should be installed. In addition, we recommend some wording changes in the section on walk messages and suggest a more precise requirement for pole location than that in the PROWAAC report or the MUTCD. We feel that in new construction a tighter specification is possible, and necessary, to make the interface as unambiguous and quiet as possible.
Many who have provided comments seem to be misinformed regarding the types of APS recommended in these guidelines. Their comments and objections to “screeching signals” and “bird calls” indicate that they are unaware of the new types of signals recommended by PROWAAC and these draft guidelines. While many NFB members are expressing opposition to ‘beeping signals’ on every corner, the Access Board may wish to review articles by NFB President Mark Mauer in which he discusses signals in Australia and Sweden favorably (“World Blind Union Fifth General Assembly” The Braille Monitor, Vol. 44, No.3, March 2001 and “Blindness, Travel, the Environment, and Technology”, The Braille Monitor, Vol. 42, No. 9, November, 1999, posted at www.nfb.org). The signals in Australia and Sweden include locator tones and audible and vibrotactile walk indications, installed close to each crosswalk location. This type of signal is exactly what these draft guidelines are calling for.
We have provided our response to the Board’s question regarding detectable warnings in the section of these comments regarding the ‘Discussion of Provisions’. We have also provided a response to the questions on roundabouts later in these comments. Many specific wording changes and the rationale for the suggested change are included later in this letter as well.
While the Board did not ask for specific comment on the issue of ‘directionality’ of curb ramps, we urge consideration of issues expressed in the PROWAAC discussions and research to develop solutions. Pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired try to avoid using the slope of the curb ramp as a cue to the direction of the crossing. However, it is difficult to avoid traveling and aligning in the direction of the slope. The detectable warning, as specified, is not an alignment cue, but a ‘stop’ indication.
The provision of additional alignment information at some types of curb ramps and blended transitions, particularly where the ramp is not aligned with the crosswalk direction, is needed. In addition, the PROWAAC committee was unable to agree on a specification for a tactile cue in the sidewalk to indicate the location of midblock crossings and roundabout crossing to pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired. Research is needed to identify solutions and address concerns of persons with mobility impairments as well as the needs of individuals who are blind or visually impaired. This research should evaluate the ability of pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired to detect and align with various surfaces, such as the bar tiles used in Europe and Japan, line tiles sold by US manufacturers, and other possible alignment surfaces, as well as the ability of wheelchair users and those with mobility impairments to navigate over and around such surfaces.
The Access Board should move as quickly as possible to implement this draft as a rule. Some in the transportation industry may urge waiting for the completion of additional research. Travelers who are blind or visually impaired are required to use the sidewalks and street crossings in their daily travel, usually in conjunction with the use of public transportation. They are at risk in traveling, due to the lack of consideration in current intersection and sidewalk designs. As additional research is completed, it can be incorporated into designs and provisions. These guidelines need to be completed and published as a final rule.
We encourage your consideration of the following specific comments as rulemaking process continues:
DISCUSSION OF PROVISIONS
The Board asks for response on a question regarding installation of detectable warnings only on curb ramps with a slope of 1:15 or less.
RESPONSE: We support the requirement for detectable warnings on ALL ramps and sidewalk/street transitions leading to crosswalks, regardless of slope. AER resolutions 98-01 and 94-08, supporting this requirement, follow.
Rationale: Two studies confirmed that removal of the curb was problematic for travelers who are blind. Barlow and Bentzen, found that 39% of blind travelers did not detect the street and stop when they approached the crosswalk on a curb ramp. Repeating their analysis using only the ramps that met ADA requirements at that time, (those that had a slope of 1:12 or lower), 48% of travelers stepped into the street. Detection is related to approach slope and rate of change from the sidewalk slope to the ramp slope, as well as the slope of the ramp. There is no data to support that a slope between 1:12 and 1:15 is reliably more detectable than slopes less than 1:15. A detectable consistent surface is needed before the street edge to provide a definitive cue to the location of the street at a curb ramp or blended transition.
We applaud the Board’s strong stance on signalization of roundabout crossings. We expect that there are alternative solutions to provide accessibility, however, roundabout proponents have been slow to respond to concerns of pedestrians with disabilities. Proponents of roundabouts often quote the reduction in crashes as support for the safety of the installations. Crash data do not tell the whole story; there is little or no information on pedestrian avoidance of roundabout locations. Anecdotal information from Europe and Australia, as well as from US installations, indicates that pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired avoid crossing at roundabouts.
While there is ongoing research on the challenges for pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired and potential solutions, there is a need to slow the proliferation of inaccessible roundabouts in the United States. We believe that traffic engineers and designers who desire to solve this problem can do so, however, the will did not seem to be present until the draft guideline was published which required their attention to the issue. Many designers and governments who are complaining about the problems of signalization seem unable to consider pedestrian signals that function differently than those that have traditionally been installed in the US, as considered by the PROWAAC and the Access Board. The experience of England and other countries with signalization of pedestrian crossings at roundabouts should be considered.
Designers who develop better solutions can always install solutions that provide better accessibility, in full compliance with guidelines. We urge the Board to continue to require signalization of the pedestrian crossings.
1101.3 DEFINED TERMS
Detectable Warning. A standardized surface feature built in or applied to walking surfaces or other elements to warn of hazards on a circulation path.
Rationale: Those reading the definition need to understand that the surface of the detectable warning is specified in ADAAG and that various textured surfaces may not meet the requirements of a detectable warning.
CHANGE to: Pushbutton Locator Tone—a repeating sound that informs approaching pedestrians that they are required to push a button to actuate pedestrian timing and that enables pedestrians who have visual disabilities to locate the pushbutton.
Rationale: The above definition is the definition and term used in the MUTCD.
1102.5.2 Protruding objects
1102.5.2 Post-Mounted Objects.
ADD: Where a sign or other obstruction is mounted between posts or pylons and the clear distance between post or pylons is greater than 12 inches (305mm), the lowest edge of such sign or obstruction shall be 27 inches (685mm) maximum or 80 inches (2030mm) minimum above the finish floor or ground. There shall be a bar or similarly detectable element 15 inches (380mm) above the floor or ground connecting the two posts or pylons.
Rationale: We are delighted with the reduction of distance that objects can protrude from posts. This will eliminate many hazards in the sidewalk area. Pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired may travel on any part of the public sidewalk and are not limited to the pedestrian access route, a fact which many designers do not seem to understand.
The sentence regarding posts and pylons seemed to be missing a section regarding the distance between posts and pylons. In addition, we encourage the addition of the requirement for a lower bar on such signs. Signs between poles, and railings with their leading edges higher than 15 inches, are not regularly detectable in cane travel by persons of varying stature and travel technique. There are many independent travelers with visual impairments who are less than adult stature.
The three principal cane techniques are: 1) the touch technique, where the cane is lifted slightly off the ground and moved in an arc from side-to-side and touches the ground at points outside both shoulders; 2) the constant contact technique, where the cane is slid from side-to-side in a path extending just beyond both shoulders; and 3) the diagonal technique, where the cane is held in a stationary position diagonally across the body with the tip just above the ground at a point outside one shoulder and the handle extended to a point outside the other shoulder. When one of these techniques is used and the element is in the detectable range, it gives a person of average adult stature, who uses proficient technique with a long cane, sufficient time to detect the element with the cane before there is body contact. The typical cane techniques do not locate objects extending into the travel path above the hips. For persons of short stature, including children, simple geometry indicates that they will be unlikely to detect objects with a long cane before contacting them with the body when the leading edge is as high as 27 inches above the floor or ground. Many persons do not consistently use proficient techniques with a long cane; they are particularly at risk.
1102.7.1 Bus Route Identification. Exception 2
ADD: If portable receivers are required to access the signs, receivers must be freely distributed persons with disabilities who cannot read print signs.
Rationale: Allowing such an exception does not provide accessible information unless there is a concomitant requirement to distribute the receivers to those who may wish to access the information.
1102.8 Pedestrian crossings
CHANGE TO: Where a pedestrian crossing is provided, it shall comply with the applicable provisions of 1105. Where pedestrian signals are provided at a pedestrian crossing, where pedestrian signal timing is actuated by pedestrian detectors (pushbuttons) or by passive pedestrian detection, or where leading pedestrian intervals or exclusive pedestrian phasing is used, pedestrian signals shall comply with 1106.
Rationale: The draft language does not require accessible information to be provided at intersections unless pedestrian signals are installed. The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) only requires (using ‘shall’ language) the installation of pedestrian signals at limited locations, such as school zones, crossings where a signal is installed due to high pedestrian volumes, and where there is exclusive pedestrian phasing. Other locations are discussed in ‘should’ language. We are concerned that this rule may encourage traffic engineers to limit the installation of pedestrian signals, in order to avoid installing accessible pedestrian signals. In the MUTCD, pedestrian signals are not required at some locations because the vehicular signal can be considered adequate, under provisions in the MUTCD, to provide information to pedestrians. Under the current draft guidelines, therefore, there would be no imperative to make the “green ball” information accessible. These locations may not provide adequate information for pedestrians who are blind without installation of accessible pedestrian signals.
The locations suggested above and in the PROWAAC report are ones at which the signal features make it hard to detect the pedestrian crossing phase without provision of accessible information. Locations such as those are known to be problematic for pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired. In addition, there may be other locations where the traffic movement does not provide sufficient information for pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired.
We are unable at this time to suggest language that will cover all possible situations in which accessible information may be needed by an individual pedestrian who is blind. Therefore we recommend that at signalized intersections in new construction where pedestrian facilities such as sidewalks are provided but pedestrian signalization is not, that conduit piping be installed in relation to the curb ramps such that a retrofit with APS if required could be easily accomplished.
As we stated previously, many who have provided comments seem to be misinformed regarding the types of APS recommended in these guidelines as well as the types of intersection signalization typically used now. (see our opening comments). Most newly installed intersections will be traffic actuated and will have complex traffic patterns. Pedestrian actuated traffic signals change with each cycle and usually require the pedestrian to push a button to get enough time in the cycle to cross the street. As well, the vehicular patterns and pedestrian timing may vary, depending on the signal timing plan of the intersection. The pedestrian timing may be concurrent with the traffic moving parallel to the pedestrian’s path, or at a totally different time in the cycle. Pedestrians who misjudge the starting traffic pattern may find themselves in the street when cars are moving perpendicular to their path with a ‘green arrow’. These changes have resulted in our advocacy for Accessible Pedestrian Signals to provide individuals who are blind or visually impaired with the signal information provided to persons who are sighted.
At the public information meeting in Portland, APS device costs of $4000 per device were suggested by some individual commenters. These estimates are incorrect. The cost of a pushbutton integrated APS, such as referred to in the draft guidelines, is currently approximately $400. per device. As with many items, that estimate may be reduced with quantity purchasing.
We agree with this addition that will make stairs in the public rights-of-way more visible to all pedestrians. We suggest a slight revision in the language.
DELETE: ‘of color’
INSERT: “contrasting with the tread and riser, dark on light or light on dark,”
1102.10 Stairs. Where provided, stairs shall comply with 504. Stair treads shall have a 2 inch (51mm) wide strip of color , contrasting with the tread and riser, dark on light or light on dark, the full width of the front edge of each tread.
Rationale: Light/dark contrast is the important feature, not color or hue.
1104 CURB RAMPS AND BLENDED TRANSITIONS
1104.3 Common Elements
MOVE: 1104.3 Common elements to 1104.2 and Types to 1104.3
Rationale: The common elements need to be more clearly described before the details of the various types of ramps. In addition, blended transitions may need additional language to clarify that a raised intersection or raised crosswalk could provide a blended transition.
1104.2.1 Perpendicular curb ramps.
ADD: Where possible, the slope of the curb ramp shall be aligned with the sidewalk and crosswalk direction.
Rationale: The orientation of curb ramps toward the intersection can be disorienting for travelers who are blind or visually impaired. In addition, they require an extra turn for wheelchair users. We believe that the guidelines need to encourage orientation of the ramp in the direction of travel on the crosswalk.
PROWAAC debated at great length on the issue of curb ramp orientation. While travelers who are blind or visually impaired do not use the slope of the ramp to determine their crossing alignment, it is difficult to prevent the slope from influencing travel direction. Advocates for pedestrians with visual impairments recognize the safety issues for wheelchair users of warping at the gutter/ramp intersection, however, whenever possible, the slope of the ramp should be aligned with the crosswalk and the grade break should be aligned perpendicular to the crosswalk alignment. The language of the guidelines needs to state that and encourage two ramps more strongly.
1105 PEDESTRIAN CROSSINGS
1105.4.2 Medians and Pedestrian Refuge Islands – Detectable Warnings
Rationale: Detectable warnings inform the pedestrian who is blind or visually impaired about the presence of a cut-through island or median. They should be required at all medians and islands. Although the pedestrian may not need to stop at that location when the signal timing is adequate for a full crossing, slower pedestrians may prefer to stop and wait, if they know the refuge exists. In the absence of an APS, blind pedestrians frequently begin crossing during the clearance interval because of the difficulty of determining the exact onset of the walk interval, and the resulting inability to “claim” the crosswalk before vehicles turning across the crosswalk. Hence, they may have insufficient time to cross the street. Denying them the information that they have a safe refuge constitutes discrimination and endangers the life safety of pedestrians who are blind in such situations. Even in the presence of APS, because they are unable to make eye contact with drivers, pedestrians with visual impairments have difficulty claiming the crosswalk during the walk interval, and may be delayed in starting crossings relative to sighted pedestrians.
In addition, contacting the side edge unexpectedly when traveling within the cut-through section of the median can be disorienting and confusing if pedestrians do not realize they are within a median area. The detectable warning provides the pedestrian with information about the location of the cut-through refuge area.
CHANGE TO: Continuous barriers landscaping separation or railings shall be provided along the street side of the sidewalk where pedestrian crossing is prohibited. When railings are used, they shall have a bottom rail 15 inches (380mm) maximum above the pedestrian access route.
Rationale: Use of the word barriers is confusing. Landscaping can be an appropriate guide to guide individuals to the crosswalk location, instead of a barrier or guardrail.
We urge the Board to keep this language and requirement for signals at each crossing of roundabouts. See previous comments in answer to the question in the Preamble.
1105.7 Turn lanes at Intersections
We also applaud the inclusion of pedestrian activated signals at these locations, which have been problematic for pedestrians who are blind for years.
1106. ACCESSIBLE PEDESTRIAN SIGNAL SYSTEMS
1106. 1 General.
We recommend the use of the term “Accessible Pedestrian Signal (APS)”, rather than Signal Systems or Pedestrian Signal Devices in this text to more closely conform to the MUTCD language and typical current terminology.
Rationale: The Board has introduced new language in these guidelines that does not match with language typically used in either the traffic engineering or the orientation and mobility professions. ‘Signal system’ is a defined term in the MUTCD (“Signal System - two or more traffic control signals operating in signal coordination”). ‘Signal system’ is not used with that meaning in these guidelines. It is important that engineers and those who are familiar with the MUTCD understand these guidelines properly.
1106.2 Pedestrian Signals.
CHANGE: Each crosswalk with pedestrian signal indication, or where pedestrian signal timing is actuated by pedestrian detectors (pushbuttons) or by passive pedestrian detection, or where a leading pedestrian interval or exclusive pedestrian phasing is used, shall have a signal device an Accessible Pedestrian Signal which includes audible and vibrotactile indications of the WALK interval. Where a pedestrian pushbutton is provided, it shall be integrated into the signal device Accessible Pedestrian Signal and shall comply with 1106.3.
Rationale: As stated earlier in our discussion of scoping, 1102.8, pedestrian signals are not required at some locations because the vehicular signal can be considered adequate, under provisions in the MUTCD, to provide information to pedestrians. These locations may not provide adequate information for pedestrians who are blind without installation of accessible pedestrian signals.
The term ‘signal device’ has a different meaning in the traffic engineering profession and may not be understood to mean a device that is commonly known as an Accessible Pedestrian Signal. There’s no need to introduce confusion.
CHANGE: Pedestrian signal devices Accessible Pedestrian Signals shall be located 60 inches (1525mm) maximum from the crosswalk line extended, 120 inches (3050mm) maximum and 30 inches (760mm) minimum from the curb line, and 120 inches (3050mm) minimum from other pedestrian signal devices at a crossing. in line with, or as close as possible to, the crosswalk line that is farthest from the intersection, and no more than 60 inches (1525mm) maximum from that line. The APS shall be as close as possible to, and no more than 120 inches (3050 mm) maximum, from the curb line of the street it serves. APS shall be 120 inches (3050mm) minimum from another APS on the same corner. The control face of the signal device accessible pedestrian signal shall be installed to face the intersection and be parallel to the direction of crosswalk it serves.
Rationale: In new construction, the location for the APS can and should be restrictive and consistent. The ‘box’ in the MUTCD was developed in consideration of retrofit situations and local practice; it is a large area 10 feet square. The recommended language attempts to make clear that the closer the APS is to the departure point while remaining accessible from a flat level surface the better it is. For the vibrotactile information to be of value, it should be located as close to the crossing departure location as possible. In our discussions over the past year we have often recommended that the APS be placed at the point of the flare immediately adjacent to the top of the ramp. An exception to this might be at the landing of parallel ramps where the APS might be located further away or at the top of the ramp on either side in order to provide clearer information, directionality, and separation between the APS.
The requirement of location more than 30 inches from the curb is a traffic engineering standard which has no relation to accessibility and may result in the placement of devices in less accessible locations. It should not be included here. In many other countries, APS are located within 18 inches of the curb which results in a more predictable location.
1106.2.3 Audible Walk Indication
CHANGE: The audible indication of the WALK interval shall be by voice speech message or tone.
Rationale: The use of the term ‘speech message’ is more accurate. We are concerned that use of ‘voice’ will be considered to require the recording of human voice messages. Some methods of digital speech may provide more consistent messaging than individual recordings. Currently, AT&T provides text to speech messaging capabilities on the web and in commercially available software. (http://www.naturalvoices.att.com/demos/index.html)
CHANGE: Tones shall consist of multiple frequencies with a dominant component at 880 Hz. The duration of the tone shall be 0.15 seconds from 0.04 seconds (40 milliseconds) to 0.15 seconds (150 milliseconds), followed by at least 0.05 seconds (50 milliseconds) of silence, and shall repeat no less than 5 times per second. at intervals of 0.15 seconds
Rationale: The current wording of the duration and repetition rate could be understood to indicate a continuous tone. We assume that the Board intended to require a tone such as is used in the Swedish or Australian signals. These repeat at rates of around 7 to 10 repetitions per second with short bursts of sound, with silence between tones of around 50 milliseconds. A repetition rate of 0.15 seconds will be 6.5 repetitions per second but there is no specification for silence between successive tones and no allowance for a slightly faster tone. We suggest more latitude in the guidelines, while specifying a tone that is rapid enough to avoid the possibility of the locator tone being mistaken for a walk indication. We believe 5 times per second or more will be fast enough to provide that distinction.
1106.2. Speech WALK Messages.
ADD A NEW SECTION
ADD: 1106.2._ Speech WALK Messages.
ADD: 1106.2. WALK signals may be in the form of speech messages.
1106.2._._ Speech WALK messages shall contain the words “WALK SIGN.”
1106.2._._ Speech WALK messages shall repeat throughout the WALK interval or be combined with a repeating WALK tone.
Exception: Speech messages may be limited to a maximum of seven seconds in duration where pedestrian signals rest in WALK.
1106.2._._ At intersections having concurrent pedestrian phasing, speech messages shall follow the model: “Howard. Walk sign is on to cross Howard.” Designation of “street, “avenue,” etc. shall be used whenever its omission could lead to ambiguity.
Rationale: The language of speech walk messages must be consistent and these guidelines should repeat at least the same specifications as in the MUCTD. The MUTCD specifies that speech WALK messages should say ‘Walk sign’, in order to provide information about the status of the walk indication without providing a command, such as ‘walk now’. Accessible Design for the Blind completed a survey of pedestrians who are blind, traffic engineers and orientation and mobility specialists last year and developed recommendations for speech WALK messages, as well as pushbutton informational messages. The recommended wording for WALK messages was “Howard. Walk sign is on to cross Howard.”
In the US, speech WALK messages are commonly used in newer accessible pedestrian signal installations. All of the pushbutton-integrated devices on the market in the US are capable of providing speech messages. Speech WALK messages are not necessary to providing unambiguous information regarding which crosswalk has the WALK interval, provided that pushbuttons are installed in the locations specified, and they will be unintelligible to some users in some ambient noise conditions. However, speech walk signals are perceived as being more user-friendly than tonal WALK signals. Good installation has a number of requirements.
Speech WALK messages should continue to repeat throughout the WALK interval, or be combined with a WALK tone for the balance of the WALK interval so that pedestrians with visual impairments will know when the WALK interval ends, they will be aware of its full duration, and be able to initiate street crossings in knowledge of the status of the pedestrian signal. Combination of a speech WALK signal with a tone signal may have some of the advantages of both. It should be clear that this is permitted.
At many intersections of an arterial with a minor street, the pedestrian signal on the minor street “rests in WALK” during the vehicular green of the arterial, until a pedestrian or vehicle actuates the signal to enter or cross the arterial. WALK signals that sound continuously during what is sometimes a walk interval some minutes long will be particularly objectionable in neighborhoods. Most of the pushbutton-integrated APS have means to limit the WALK signal to a certain number of seconds. Pedestrians may be able to actuate the audible WALK signal multiple times during the same (rest-in-)WALK interval.
ADD: Exception: When special activation is used to provide audible beaconing, the volume may exceed 5dB above ambient noise level.
Rationale: Special activation of louder signals may be useful in some situations to provide beaconing. If it is provided by special activation, such as a long press of the pushbutton, as suggested by PROWAAC and provided by several US manufacturers of APS, the louder signal will only sound when someone requests such a feature. Allowing a volume increase in response to special activation will provide some flexibility as these features develop in response to needs and as research continues on these issues.
Additional speakers mounted at pedhead might be found to provide directional information to pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired; we do not want these guidelines to prevent further evaluation of that option.
ADD: WALK tones shall repeat throughout the WALK interval.
Exception: WALK tones may be limited to a maximum of seven seconds in duration where pedestrian signals rest in WALK.
Rationale: At many intersections of an arterial with a minor street, the pedestrian signal on the minor street “rests in WALK” during the vehicular green of the arterial, until a pedestrian or vehicle actuates the signal to enter or cross the arterial. WALK signals that sound continuously during a walk interval that is often several minutes long will be particularly objectionable in neighborhoods. Most of the pushbutton-integrated APS have means to limit the WALK signal to a certain number of seconds. Pedestrians can actuate the audible WALK signal multiple times during the same rest-in-WALK interval, if needed.
1106.3.2 Pushbutton Locator Tone.
ADD: Exception: When special activation is used to provide audible beaconing, the volume of the locator tone for the succeeding clearance interval may exceed 5dB above ambient noise level
Rationale: When special actuation of louder signals is used to provide beaconing, having the loudness of the pushbutton locator tone increased for the remainder of the pedestrian phase is essential to enabling those who need this assistance to home in on the opposite corner while they are still in the middle of the crossing.
ADD: more specific information on contrast
1106.4.Arrow. Signs shall include a tactile arrow aligned parallel to the crosswalk direction. The arrow shall be raised 1/32 (0.8 mm) minimum and shall be 1-1/2 inches (38mm) minimum in length. The arrowhead shall be open at 45 degrees to the shaft and shall be 33 percent of the length of the shaft. Stroke width shall be 10 percent minimum and 15 maximum of arrow length. The arrow shall contrast with the background, light on dark or dark on light.
Rationale: Contrast in hue may not be perceptible but light/dark will be perceptible for most who use visual information.
1106.4.2 Street name
CHANGE TO READ: Accessible pedestrian signals shall include street name information aligned parallel to the crosswalk direction and complying with 703.3, or shall provide street name information in audible format.
Rationale: Street name information provided in audible format will be usable by more individuals than street name information provided in tactile format.
Providing street name information in tactile characters will result in signs that are very large. Most persons who read by touch read Braille. If there is a requirement for tactile street name information, it is more reasonable to require Braille information than tactile characters. It will serve those who will use it better, and require smaller, less expensive signs.
1108. DETECTABLE WARNINGS
CHANGE Add a maximum depth:
1108.1.4 Size. Detectable warning surfaces shall extend 24 inches (610 mm) minimum and 36 inches maximum in the direction of travel and the full width of the curb ramp, landing, or blended transition.
Rationale: We assume the Board did not establish a maximum depth of detectable warning because there is some research evidence that deeper warnings are more detectable. However, while research by Bentzen and others consistently found that blind persons more reliably detected detectable warnings at 30 inches or 36 inches than at 24 inches, 24 inch deep detectable warnings were repeatedly detected on 85-90% of trials, and currently function well at transit platform edges. Detectable warnings 24 inches deep were recommended in the PROWAAC report and have been recommended previously by the Association for Education of the Blind and Visually Impaired (see resolution 94-08 and 98-01, which follow) Permitting the depth of detectable warnings to be a maximum of 36 inches will result in consistency that can be important to consistent detection and fast stopping by blind pedestrians.
Failure to specify a maximum depth could result in continued installation of detectable warnings on the full surface of curb ramps. Installing such large areas of detectable warning surfaces as entire curb ramps provides less precise information to blind pedestrians than installing a smaller amount in a very predictable location. In addition, larger depth may result in increased expense and greater possible adverse impact on persons with mobility impairments.
1108.2.1 Curb Ramps and Blended Transitions
Exception: At cut-through islands and medians, the detectable warning may be located so that the edge nearest the crosswalk is at the curb line.
Rationale: The PROWAAC recommendation that detectable warnings be 6-8 inches from the curb line was based primarily on construction practices at curb ramps, and the need to be able to place detectable warnings behind a curb that is depressed to street level. In addition, the placement may help pedestrians using wheelchairs because they can begin to ascend the ramp before encountering the truncated dome surface. It may also help persons with visual impairments because it places the leading edge of the detectable warning, for persons approaching the street, 6-8 inches farther away from the vehicular travel lane.
However, requiring that detectable warnings be 6-8 inches from the curb line at cut-through islands and medians has the effect of requiring that islands and medians be a total of 12-16 inches wider than may otherwise be necessary or advisable. This may prevent the installation of refuges at some locations and this additional length of refuge is unnecessary if a construction system is used that does not require that detectable warnings be placed behind curbs at street level. Therefore an exception is needed for such locations.
1108.2.2 Rail Crossings
Exception: Where automatic gates across pedestrian ways bar pedestrian access to the crossing when rail vehicles are approaching or at a crossing, the detectable warning surface shall be located to the side of the automatic gate farthest from the crossing.
Rationale: Automatic gates can cause serious head injury to blind pedestrians approaching crossings. There is currently no reliable way for pedestrians who are blind to be notified of the location of automatic gates. Gate support is typically outside the normal pedestrian route and not likely to be encountered by blind pedestrians. Where there is a gate, a blind pedestrian may become trapped between the gate and the crossing, with the gate barring the way for the blind pedestrian to move farther away from the crossing.
Thank you for opportunity to comment. It is important that the needs of pedestrians, including those who are visually impaired or blind, are considered in the ADA guidelines.
Following: AER Resolutions
Resolution 2002 – 05
WHEREAS people with disabilities and in particular those who are blind or visually impaired have difficulties negotiating Public Rights of Way in the United States and in Canada; and
WHEREAS, in the United States, the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) has developed draft design guidelines to ensure that access for persons with disabilities is provided wherever a pedestrian way is newly built or altered, and to insure that the same degree of convenience, connection, and safety afforded the public generally is available to pedestrians with disabilities; and
WHEREAS street crossings at signalized intersections are often inaccessible to pedestrians with vision impairments; and
WHEREAS the U.S. Access Board has therefore proposed guidelines for
accessible pedestrian signals at all crosswalks with pedestrian signal
information, and guidelines to make all pedestrian pushbuttons accessible; and
WHEREAS in Canada, recommendations for revised standards for accessible
pedestrian signals and accessible pedestrian pushbuttons are currently being developed by the Canadian National Committee on Accessible Pedestrian Signals; and
WHEREAS where boundaries between pedestrian and vehicular ways are not
reliably detectable to pedestrians with vision impairments, these
pedestrians may be unaware when they move from the pedestrian way into the vehicular way; and
WHEREAS the U.S. Access Board has therefore proposed guidelines for defining the boundary between the pedestrian way and the vehicular way by the use of truncated dome detectable warnings where curb ramps, landings and blended transitions connect to crosswalks, and at cut-through medians and islands, and at level rail crossings in the pedestrian way; and
WHEREAS crossings at roundabouts and slip lanes are often inaccessible to pedestrians with vision impairments because of difficulties inherent in determining safe crossing times based on acoustic information, and because of difficulties in locating crosswalks; and
WHEREAS the U.S. Access Board has therefore proposed guidelines for
accessible pedestrian signals for each segment of each crosswalk, and
barriers where crossing is not permitted; and
WHEREAS pedestrians with vision impairments are at an equally great risk from objects protruding from poles and from walls; and
WHEREAS the U.S. Access Board has therefore proposed guidelines in which the amount by which objects may protrude from both poles and from walls is four inches; and
WHEREAS temporary circulation paths are independently usable by persons with vision impairments only if they know about them, and temporary barriers that are not detectable by the use of a long cane do not adequately protect pedestrians with vision impairments, or channelize them along an alternate route if they are not readily detectable by the use of a long cane; and
WHEREAS the U.S. Access Board has therefore proposed guidelines for signs, and guidelines for barricades that are readily detectable by persons traveling with the aid of a long cane; and
WHEREAS persons with low vision are at particular risk of falling at stairs because of inability to visually determine the depth of tread and height of riser; and
WHEREAS the U.S. Access Board has therefore proposed a guideline for
contrasting color along the nosings of stairs, that will increase the
perceptibility of tread depth and riser height;
Therefore be it resolved that on this 21st day of July, 2002, in the city of Toronto, Ontario, that the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) commends the Access Board for attending carefully to the unique access needs of persons with vision impairments in the preparation of the Draft Guidelines for Accessible Public Rights-of-Way.
Be it further resolved that AER urges the U.S. Federal Highway Administration to bring the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices into harmony with the Draft Guidelines for Accessible Public Rights-of-Way.
Be it further resolved that the AER urges the Transportation Association of Canada to incorporate the recommendations of the Canadian National Committee on Accessible Pedestrian Signals into the Canadian Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices.
Be it further resolved that the AER urges the Canadian Standards Association to consider harmonizing Canadian standards with the recommendations in the U.S. Draft Guidelines for Accessible Public Rights-of-Way concerning detectable warnings, protruding objects, temporary circulation paths, roundabouts and stair nosings.
WHEREAS professionals in Orientation and Mobility have observed that when visually impaired pedestrians approach streets at curb ramps they are at risk of walking unaware into the path of moving traffic, since there is no clearly defined distinction at curb ramps between the roadway and sidewalk; and
WHEREAS research has now been conducted which confirms that for persons who are visually impaired, there is a high level of risk of inadvertent street entry associated with the presence of curb ramps, particularly those having slopes of 1:12 or less (Barlow, J. & Bentzen, B. 1993); and
WHEREAS it has been demonstrated that detectable warnings complying with ADAAG 4.29.2 are highly detectable by persons with visual impairments, and can provide an effective stop signal for persons who are blind or visually impaired which can be used to determine the end of the sidewalk and the beginning of the vehicular way; and
WHEREAS research has now been conducted which addresses concerns about safety of detectable warnings, indicating that detectable warnings on slopes have minimal impact on the safety and ease of travel for persons having physical disabilities (Bentzen, et al. 1994); and
WHEREAS research has demonstrated that 24 inches of detectable warning material is sufficient to enable persons who are blind or visually impaired to stop on 90% of approaches (Peck & Bentzen, 1987); and
WHEREAS consistency in dimensions and placement of detectable warnings is of critical importance in successful interpretation by the user in varied settings;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED on this 13th day of July, 1994, in the city of Dallas, Texas, that AER urges the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) to issue a rule requiring a 24 inch wide detectable warning on the lower (or “street”) end of curb ramps, complying with ADAAG 4.29.2, and extending the full width of the curb ramp, to precisely define the limit of the pedestrian way; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that AER urges the Access Board to issue a rule requiring a similar 24 inch wide detectable warning extending along the entire edge of any pedestrian way which is unbounded by a curb, fence, or railing from an adjoining street (“blended curb”).
WHEREAS Orientation and Mobility Specialists have observed that when visually impaired pedestrians approach streets at curb ramps they are at risk of walking unaware into the path of moving traffic, since there is no clearly defined distinction at curb ramps between the roadway and sidewalk; and
WHEREAS research has now been conducted which confirms that for persons who are visually impaired there is a high level of risk of inadvertent street entry associated with the presence of curb ramps, particularly those having slopes of 1:12 or less (Bentzen, B. & Barlow, J., 1995; Hauger, S., Rigby, J., Safewright, M. and McAuley, W., 1996); and
WHEREAS it has been demonstrated that detectable warnings complying with ADAAG 4.29.2 are highly detectable by persons with visual impairments, and can provide an effective stop signal for persons who are blind or visually impaired which can be used to determine the end of the sidewalk and the beginning of the vehicular way; and
WHEREAS research has now been conducted which addresses concerns about safety of detectable warnings, indicating that detectable warning on slopes have minimal impact on the safety and ease of travel for persons having physical disabilities (Bentzen, B., Nolin, T., Easton, R., Desmaris, P., and Mitchell, P., 1994; Hauger, et al, 1996); and
WHEREAS research has demonstrated that 24 inches of detectable warning material is sufficient to enable persons who are blind or visually impaired to stop on 90% of approaches (Peck , A. & Bentzen, B., 1987); and
WHEREAS it was the nearly unanimous recommendation of the workshop on curb ramps and detectable warnings sponsored by the U.S. Access Board and Project ACTION in January, 1995, that no additional research was needed on detectable warnings at curb ramps and that a detectable warning should forthwith be required on the full width of curb ramps beginning at the curb line and extending back 24"; and
WHEREAS numerous municipalities in the United States have installed detectable warnings on curb ramps and have reported no instances in which safety has been compromised by the presence of detectable warnings on curb ramps;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED on this 12th day of July, 1998, in Atlanta, Georgia that AER urges the U.S. Access Board to provide specific opportunity for public comment on detectable warnings at curb ramps and hazardous vehicular ways when the notice of proposed rulemaking for the revised ADA Accessibility Guidelines is published.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that AER continues to strongly advocate the provision of a 24" wide detectable warning surface at the bottom of curb ramps and at hazardous vehicular ways, particularly where those hazardous vehicular ways are blended curbs or raised crossings at intersections.(See AER Resolution 94-08).
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that AER urges Transport Canada to require a 24" wide detectable warning surface at the bottom of curb ramps and at hazardous vehicular ways, particularly where those hazardous vehicular ways are blended curbs or raised crossings at intersections.
WHEREAS the Americans with Disabilities Act guarantees the right of access to information to persons with disabilities; and
WHEREAS many signalized intersections provide information to pedestrians with sight which is not provided to pedestrians with visual impairments; and
WHEREAS it has been demonstrated ( Crandall, W., Bentzen, B.L., and Myers, L., 1998) that competent, independent, blind pedestrians at unfamiliar signalized intersections may initiate as many or more than 34% of crossings during the clearance or DON’T WALK intervals if those intersections are not equipped with accessible pedestrian signals; and
WHEREAS accessible pedestrian signals have been widely used for more than 10 years in countries including Australia, Japan, Sweden, and the United Kingdom and are considered by traffic engineers to be widely effective not only in providing information to blind pedestrians but also in decreasing general pedestrian delay and facilitating vehicular flow at signalized intersections; and
WHEREAS increasing numbers of quiet vehicles, including electric vehicles and those with quiet internal combustion engines, make acoustic information from vehicles inconsistent, resulting in the inability of pedestrians who are blind to reliably detect the onset of the WALK interval by listening for a surge of vehicles; and
WHEREAS inexpensive technologies exist to make Accessible Pedestrian Signals which are automatically responsive to ambient sound , being very quiet at night and in low traffic situations, while still loud enough to be heard above vehicular sound in high traffic situations; and
WHEREAS accessible vibrotactile and speech transmission signal systems exist which add no noise to the environment; and
WHEREAS the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century provides that “Transportation plans and projects . . . shall include the installation, where appropriate, and maintenance of audible traffic signals and audible signs at street crossings;”
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED on this 12th day of July, 1998, in Atlanta, Georgia that AER urges the U.S. Federal Highway Administration and Transport Canada to develop recommended practices for installation of pedestrian signals which make information which is regularly provided to other pedestrians, accessible to pedestrians who are visually impaired, including but not limited to: information specifying WALK and DON'T WALK intervals; information indicating the presence and location of push-buttons; and information unambiguously indicating the street to which the signal applies.
WHEREAS traffic engineers are increasingly utilizing signal systems in which the only safe time to cross signalized intersections is provided in response to pedestrian use of a push button; and
WHEREAS persons who are visually impaired consistently identify location of the push button as the major problem they experience at pedestrian actuated intersections (American Council of the Blind survey, 1998; City of San Diego, Department of Transportation, 1994; and Tauchi, M., Sawai, H., Takato, J., Yoshiura, T., and Takaeuchi, K., 1998 ); and
WHEREAS persons who are visually impaired often have insufficient time when pedestrian push buttons are far from associated crosswalks, to actuate push buttons and then prepare to cross before the onset of the WALK interval (American Council of the Blind survey, 1998); and
WHEREAS unobtrusive technologies exist for providing information in accessible format, specifying the presence and location of push buttons;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that AER urges the U.S. Federal Highway Administration and Transport Canada to develop standards for push button location technology such as quiet audible locator tones, and to require the placement of newly installed pedestrian push buttons in close proximity to the top landing of the curb ramp serving that crossing, within accessible reach range for use from a wheelchair, and near enough to the curb line that persons with visual impairments can actuate the push button and then align and prepare for crossing before the onset of the WALK interval.
WHEREAS there are roundabouts in many states in the United States, and many more are proposed or under construction; and
WHEREAS roundabouts have been shown to reduce the rate of serious personal injury crashes to drivers and passengers relative to similar signalized intersections, and thus have demonstrated their usefulness as an option for intersection design; and
WHEREAS despite the benefits to motorists, recent research at roundabouts in the U.S. indicates that blind pedestrians have difficulty at some roundabouts in determining appropriate times to begin crossing, and also may have difficulty locating crosswalks, aligning to cross the street, and maintaining their heading while crossing; and
WHEREAS focus groups of blind pedestrians conducted by U.S. researchers in the United Kingdom and France reported that the many roundabouts in those countries caused serious access problems for pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired; and
WHEREAS persons with blindness or visual impairments have the right to full access to public rights of way, including roundabouts;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, this 19th day of July, 2000 in the City of Denver, Colorado, that the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) urges transportation engineers and planners to make every effort in the design, construction and operation of roundabouts to make them accessible to persons who are blind and visually impaired; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, as research identifies best practices concerning
roundabouts and blind pedestrians, these practices be implemented by traffic
engineers and planners, and included in all U.S. and Canadian design manuals
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