Why are regulations important to pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired?
You may recognize that you have trouble crossing at a particular crosswalk. You may have figured out what the problem is, and have decided that there is no way you can modify your travel strategy to make it safe for you to cross at that location. There just may not be enough information. So you decide that if there was some change in the intersection geometry or signalization you could cross successfully. “Intersection geometry” is the term transportation professionals use when they are talking about any aspect of how the intersection is shaped, such as width of the street, location of curb ramps, location of crosswalks, location of pushbuttons, or presence and location of islands. “Signalization” includes characteristics like the length of the walk interval , i.e., when you should start crossing; whether or not a button push is needed to actuate the timing of the "Walk" sign , without which the time interval before perpendicular traffic gets a green light is long enough only for vehicles, not pedestrians; whether there is a left turn phase; whether there is a “leading pedestrian interval,” during which pedestrians can start crossing before the parallel traffic is permitted to start; whether all traffic stops during the pedestrian phase; whether a signal provides enough time for pedestrians to cross an entire wide street, or only get to a center island where there is another pushbutton; or whether there is or is not a signal to cross a channelized turn lane. Both intersection geometry and signalization have become very complex in the last 20 years.
When you decide that you want to request a change in intersection geometry and/or signalization, for example, installation of an accessible pedestrian signal (APS), detectable warnings, a pushbutton in a good location, or a longer crossing time, you are more likely to get a positive response if you can clearly, completely and accurately state the requirements that support your request.
The key person or people in your jurisdiction to whom you direct your request will have a much easier time responding positively if your request is in line with existing requirements and you can point out what those requirements are and where they can be found. Especially in smaller jurisdictions TEs may have limited familiarity with applicable requirements, so in a subtle way you may actually need to provide education. First of all, you need to persuade the transportation professional that what you request is reasonable, possible, and permissible, and then, the transportation professional will need to persuade the people to whom he or she reports that granting your request is the right course of action. You can make the transportation professional's job easier by providing the information the transportation professional needs to support the request.
Another reason it is important for you to gain an understanding about specific requirements is that if you make a request for an alteration or accommodation that is not supported by some requirement, for example, in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), https://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/pdfs/2009/pdf_index.htm , the transportation professional can easily dismiss your request because it’s not “in the book.” Therefore, it is in your best interest to learn as much as you can about all the requirements that are applicable to your situation before you make a request. transportation professionals are understandably concerned about the liability of the jurisdiction if a request is granted that, despite making your life easier or safer, can be claimed to have caused an accident negatively affecting someone else's safety. If the change is not supported by specific requirements, the jurisdiction may lose the case.
There’s no getting around it. You have to delve into the tedious, puzzling, changeable world of guidelines and standards. This chapter will help you know where to go and what to look for so you can educate yourself. However this chapter cannot provide all the information you will need because all guidelines and standards are “living documents,” which are updated periodically. The guidelines and standards in this chapter will soon be out of date, and you will need to see what the current guidelines and standards are before deciding to refer to them or to refer to subsequent versions.
Laws are the basis of your right to accessible rights-of-way
It is laws, also called “implementing regulations,” that establish your right to an environment that is accessible. Just how the environment is to be made accessible is articulated in guidelines and standards. These will be discussed in the next section.
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 amended 29 USC Section 794 Public Law 105-220 http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-1998-title29/html/USCODE-1998-title2... was the first law to establish the civil rights of people with disabilities to accessible programs and facilities. Traveling on public rights-of-way, including crossing streets, is a “program” provided by state and local governments. This “program” includes the facilities that the program requires, such as intersections. Section 504 is applicable to programs and facilities that receive Federal assistance. Almost every local highway agency relies upon U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) dollars, either directly or indirectly, for roads, sidewalks, signals, and related facilities. The Rehab Act coverage is well-recognized where there is direct project funding, but many people don’t realize that any Federal funding binds the jurisdiction for all of its programs and projects.
Under the Rehab Act, the Federal agency that provides the funds is responsible for enforcement. For pedestrian facilities generally, it is the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA); for pedestrian facilities at transit systems, it is the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Each has an Office of Civil Rights where questions and complaints can be submitted.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The ADA https://www.ada.gov/ extended the civil rights of people with disabilities to programs and facilities that do not receive Federal aid. Title II of the ADA is the portion of that law that applies to public streets and sidewalks, identified as public rights-of-way. Title II 28 CFR Part 35 https://www.ada.gov/reg2.html requires that state and local governments make their services, programs and activities (including facilities such as street crossings) accessible to people with disabilities. The ADA requires that new construction and alterations be completed according to high standards of accessibility. When street crossings meet the standards for accessibility developed by the US Access Board, they are considered to be accessible.
Title II is enforced by the Department of Justice (DOJ), but the DOJ will often refer a case on pedestrian accessibility to DOT, and particularly to FHWA, because those agencies are already enforcing their own Section 504 (Rehab Act) regulations.
The ADA requirement for program access can apply even to intersections that are not scheduled to be changed if you find that you are unable to cross there safely.
Program access is not tied to design and construction standards. Where an existing program or facility (such as an intersection) is not usable by a person with a disability, agencies must provide a solution. A range of approaches is permissible. At pedestrian crossings, an APS is usually the best solution for people with visual impairments who have trouble knowing when it is safe to begin to cross, but other solutions can include changes to vehicle turning phases or sequences (so that pedestrians can reliably tell the onset of the WALK signal by the surge of parallel through traffic in the near lane), installation of a more usable crossing nearby, or extending the pedestrian crossing time.
Most program access solutions are operational and don’t approach the high degree of convenient access called for in new construction. And a city can assert cost and difficulty limits.
Standards applicable to public-rights-of way--and some provisions related to making public rights-of-way accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired
Standards are developed to provide the technical information about how jurisdictions are to meet the legal requirements of the ADA and Section 504. When the standards are adopted they become enforceable, within the time-frame stated in the standard. Standards are always subject to periodic review, so they are “living documents.” That means that they are often in some stage of revision, so be sure to get the most up-to-date information you can about a particular standard you wish to use in any request for access. Particularly relevant sections of some standards current at the time of publication are included in the attachments at the end of this chapter, but before quoting them, you should be sure they are still current by checking the website where you can find each one.
Whenever any kind of Federal standard is developed, it must be published in the Federal Register as a “Notice of Proposed Rule-Making,” or “Notice of Proposed Amendment.”
After the publication, there is always a public comment period. Public comments must be taken seriously by the agency developing the standard, and if you think a standard is not good enough, it is important to make your opinion known during this phase of development by submitting a comment in writing to the agency developing the standard. The proposed standard must be revised taking into account consideration of all the comments before it is published as a “Final Rule.”
Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) and Americans with Disabilities Act and Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Guidelines (New ADAAG)
ADAAG was published by the Access Board in 1991 (https://www.access-board.gov/adaag/html/adaag.htm) and subsequently adopted as a standard by the DOJ (https://www.ada.gov/adastd94.pdf), and by the DOT. Guidelines published by the US Access Board become enforceable when they are adopted as standards by enforcing agencies.
A principle of ADA standards is that they apply to new construction and alterations. These standards are not retro-active to existing facilities.
The DOJ enforces most sections of ADAAG, however the DOT enforces provisions that relate to transportation, including public transportation and public rights-of-way.
The ADAAG included few provisions related to accessibility of public rights-of-way for people with visual impairments, however it did include specifications for truncated dome detectable warnings and required that they be placed at transit platform edges and the full surface curb ramps, excluding the flares, if any. (Barlow and Bentzen, 1994 and 1995).
The requirement for detectable warnings at transit platform edges was relatively well-received, and all rail transit properties began the process of installing detectable warnings at the edges of transit platforms.
However, the requirement for detectable warnings at curb ramps was controversial, and was suspended from 1998 to 2001, while further research was conducted that confirmed that people who are blind do walk down curb ramps and into the street without realizing that they are doing so, and without preparing to cross the street. This research also indicated that a 24 inch minimum depth of the detectable warning at the bottom of curb ramps, was enough to enable people who are blind to detect the warning and come to a stop before stepping into a dangerous situation.
When the suspension expired in 2001, detectable warnings were required to be installed on the bottom 24 inches of curb ramps.
The Access Board revised ADAAG and published New ADAAG on July 23, 2004 https://www.access-board.gov/ada-aba/final.cfm . New ADAAG, officially titled the “ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines,” extends the requirements of ADAAG to include private properties such as campuses, medical centers, and shopping centers. There is still little that is specifically related to making public rights-of-way accessible to people who are visually impaired, however.
New ADAAG includes the specifications for detectable warnings but requires them only at transit platform edges.
New ADAAG, renamed as the “ADA Standards for Transportation Facilities”, was adopted by the DOT on October 30th, 2006 with an effective date of November 29th, 2006. (https://www.access-board.gov/ada-aba/ada-standards-dot.cfm).
When the DOT adopted New ADAAG as its standard they added a provision that is important to people with visual impairments. DOT added a requirement that curb ramps have detectable warnings. (https://www.access-board.gov/ADA-ABA/ada-standards-dot.cfm)
“406.8 Detectable Warnings. A curb ramp shall have a detectable warning complying with 705 [the specifications for the truncated dome surface texture]. The detectable warning shall extend the full width of the curb ramp (exclusive of flared sides) and shall extend either the full depth of the curb ramp or 24 inches (610 mm) deep minimum measured from the back of the curb on the ramp surface.”
Attachment A, taken from the preamble to the ADA Standards for Transportation Facilities as published in the Federal Register 49CFR Part 37, is the DOT’s rationale for adding the requirement for detectable warnings on curb ramps. It is helpful reading for people who would like to have more background on the issue of detectable warnings.
The new ADAAG was adopted as the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design on July 23, 2010 by the DOJ and was published in the Federal Register on September 15th, 2010. Compliance with the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design https://www.ada.gov/reg3a.html is permitted as of September 15, 2010, but NOT REQUIRED until March 15, 2012.
Remember that the rulemaking process will result in changes to either the content or the status of these regulations from time to time, and although we intend to update our text to reflect these changes when they are made, readers should periodically check the website of the Access Board themselves to see the most current information. Simply go to http://access-board.gov/ada/guide.htm.
Draft Public Rights-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines and Revised Draft Guidelines for Accessible Public Rights-of-Way
At the time of this writing, no standards specifically for making public rights-of-way accessible had been adopted by the DOJ or DOT.
The Access Board released “Draft Public Rights-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines,” http://access-board.gov/rowdraft.htm on June 17, 2002, with major input from the Public Rights-of-Way Access Advisory Committee (PROWAAC), which included Janet Barlow, Pat Beattie, Melanie Brunson, Julie Carroll, Charles Crawford, Peggy Pinder Elliott, Lukas Franck, Scott LaBarre, and Ken Stewart as representatives of various groups related to blindness.
The initial draft received many public comments, was revised, and released as the “Revised Draft Guidelines for Accessible Public Rights-of-Way” (subsequently referred to as Draft PROWAG) on November 23, 2005 (https://www.access-board.gov/prowac/draft.htm ).
In 2006, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued a statement that Draft PROWAG is to be considered best practice for making public rights-of-way accessible. (https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bikeped/prwaa.htm ). (See Attachment B for a copy of that statement.)
Draft PROWAG includes specifications for detectable warnings and gives detailed information regarding their installation on curb ramps and on blended curbs, including at street corners, at cut-through islands and medians, and in front of buildings. It also has sections on accessible pedestrian signals (APS), roundabouts, channelized turn lanes, protruding objects, channelizing devices and barriers, and tactile and print signs. With the exception of the section on APS, these sections of Draft PROWAG can be found in Attachment C. The section on APS has been omitted because it is likely to be changed to be more consistent with the text in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) December 2009. The APS specifications in MUTCD 2009 can be found in Attachment D.
Remember that as Draft PROWAG proceeds through the rule-making process it may be changed.
On July 26, 2011 the U.S. Access Board released the “Proposed Accessibility Guidelines for Pedestrian Facilities in the Public Right-of-Way” for a four month review comment period.
The proposed guidelines can be accessed, and comments to them submitted or viewed, through the Federal government's rulemaking portal at www.regulations.gov. Instructions for submitting comments are included in the proposal. The deadline for comments is November 23, 2011. The Board will hold public hearings on the guidelines in Dallas on September 12 and in Washington, D.C. on November 9.
Further information on this rulemaking is available on the rights-of-way homepage or by contacting Scott Windley at [email protected], (202) 272-0025 (v), or (202) 272-0028 (TTY).
As with any rule, it is important during the comment period to submit specific written comments about both things you like, and things you would like to have changed.
Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)
The MUTCD is the standard used by TEs for making decisions about traffic control devices. As mentioned above, at the time of this writing, there are no enforceable technical standards under the ADA for public rights-of-way. However, the FHWA has made it clear that they take accessibility seriously, and many technical specifications for making crossings accessible to people with visual impairments are included in their MUTCD.
Traffic control devices include not only signals, but also signs, markings, and temporary traffic control at construction sites. At the time of this writing, the 2009 MUTCD applies.
The currently applicable MUTCD can be found at https://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/kno_2009.htm in both pdf and HTML versions.
It is important to know that states also have their own versions of a manual of traffic control devices, though they may go by different names. The state manuals are supposed to be brought into compliance with the FHWA MUTCD within two years of its release. They cannot require less than the MUTCD, but may be a little different. Generally referring to the MUTCD will provide sufficient support for any specific request for which you are advocating.
Some of the provisions of the MUTCD are Standards, that is, they must be followed; they are stated in “shall” language. Some of the provisions are Guidance, that is, they must be followed unless the transportation professional can provide good reasons for doing something different; they are stated in “should” language. (Needless to say, information needs of pedestrians with visual impairments are not well-understood by transportation professionals. Well-meaning transportation professionals may implement design and operational characteristics that do not succeed in providing the needed information, because they think they have a better idea about what people with visual impairments may actually need.) Other provisions are expressed as Options, that is they provide a variety of ways to accomplish the same thing, and it is up to the transportation professional to decide which option is best in a particular situation.
The MUTCD provides Support paragraphs to help transportation professionals understand the reasons behind certain provisions.
Since 2000, the MUTCD has included some specifications for APS. With each edition, these have been refined on the basis of research indicating what kind of hardware, operational characteristics and installation result in providing the clearest, most accurate, and unambiguous information to pedestrians with visual impairments.
Some of the provisions that started out as Guidance are now Standards. At the time of this writing, the most comprehensive technical specifications for APS are in the MUTCD 2009. Therefore we recommend that you use the 2009 addition of the MUTCD which includes specific features and functions as the basis upon which you rely for requesting installation of APS.
The sections of the MUTCD 2009 applicable to APS may be found in Attachment D.
The MUTCD does not have any requirement for detectable warnings at curb ramps. At the time of this writing, the most comprehensive technical specifications for detectable warnings, are in thePROWAG NPRM.
Therefore when requesting appropriately designed detectable warnings at curb ramps, islands and medians, and railroad crossings refer to the FHWA directive (Attachment A) For now, consider that Draft PROWAG best practice.
In Attachment C you can find the sections of Draft PROWAG on detectable warnings.
The MUTCD includes more detailed standards regarding how to make work zones accessible than Draft PROWAG, so until PROWAG is finalized and adopted as a standard by FHWA, the MUTCD is the best basis for requesting appropriate accommodations at work zones.
Basically, a cane-detectable barrier needs to be provided if there is a drop-off or if pedestrians are channeled into a detour, and accessible information should be provided in the form of an audible message if pedestrians need to detour. In Attachment D you can find the section of the MUTCD on making work zones accessible.
Whenever you want to request an accommodation to make an intersection accessible to you, first learn the current requirements. They will provide the best support for your request. Requests that are for something currently required are most likely to be successful—and helpful to the most pedestrians who are visually impaired. Requesting an APS that is different from that which is required, while it may provide enough information for you, may not provide adequate information for another pedestrian who is visually impaired. Likewise, requesting that a detectable warning be installed at a location or in a way that is not described in a requirement, while it may be helpful to you, may be misleading to other pedestrians who are visually impaired. Requesting accommodations that are different from those which are currently required will be confusing to TEs. The inconsistency in requested accommodations may lead to rejection of the request altogether, or installation of equipment that is not optimal for addressing your needs, or improper installations that do not serve most potential visually impaired pedestrians' needs.
If you think ADA standards or the MUTCD should be changed, write to the Access Board or the FHWA at any time. Keep up-to-date on the status of standards so that when there is a Notice of Proposed Rule-making or Notice of Proposed Amendments, you will be able to submit your comments at the time that the agencies are required to pay attention to them. Comments at any time should always suggest alternative language and provide a detailed rationale for the alternative language.
DOT adopts New ADAAG
The portion of the preamble to the new accessibility standards for transportation that refers to the requirement for detectable warnings on curb ramps. [The entire preamble and standard can be found at https://www.transit.dot.gov/civilrights/ada/civil_rights_5936.html]
Final Rule Adopting New Accessibility Standards -- Effective November 29, 2006
[Federal Register: October 30, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 209)]
[Rules and Regulations]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
49 CFR Part 37
Transportation for Individuals With Disabilities; Adoption of New Accessibility Standards
AGENCY: Office of the Secretary, Department of Transportation.
ACTION: Final rule.
“The Department is also adopting language that would continue in effect the current requirements of ADAAG concerning detectable warnings at curb ramps. Detectable warnings in curb ramps have long been required by ADAAG and DOT and DOJ regulatory standards that have long been, and remain, in effect. Currently, the Access Board is working on new public rights-of-way (PROW) guidelines, the current proposed version of which would retain a detectable warnings requirement. Because the Access Board is proposing this requirement in the PROW document, the July 2004 ADAAG did not include a parallel detectable warning requirement. The unintended consequence of the relationship between the Access Board's timing with respect to the ADAAG and PROW issuances is that, if the Department adopts the new ADAAG, the current detectable warnings requirement for curb ramps would disappear, only to reappear in a few years if the current Access Board PROW proposal is adopted. (If the Access Board deletes or modifies its current proposal concerning detectable warnings in final PROW guidelines, the Department will modify part 37 accordingly.)
The Department, along with an overwhelming majority of Access Board members, believes that detectable warnings are a very useful design feature that makes the built environment safer and more accessible for persons with impaired vision. It would be undesirable, as a policy matter, to permit the Department's current detectable warnings requirement to lapse, particularly since the Department has never sought or received comment on the merits of ending this existing requirement. The Department will therefore maintain the status quo with respect to detectable warnings in this rule. Doing so will not add any burdens for regulated parties, or create any new or increased costs for them: regulated parties will just continue complying with precisely the same requirements that have applied to them (with a brief interruption during a 1998-2001 suspension of these requirements) since 1991.”
FHWA memorandum making the Revised Draft Guidelines on Public Rights-of-Way best practice
U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
Subject: INFORMATION: Public Rights-of-Way Access Advisory
Date: January 23, 2006
From: // Original signed by // Frederick D. Isler, Associate Administrator for Civil Rights
Reply to: HCR-1
To: Division Administrators; Resource Center Directors; Federal Lands Highway Division Engineers
The purpose of this notice is to inform you that the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) published revised draft accessibility guidelines (the Draft Guidelines) for public rights-of-way in the Federal Register on November 23, 2005. The Draft Guidelines are available at https://www.access-board.gov/prowac/index.htm. They cover pedestrian access to sidewalks and streets, including crosswalks, curb ramps, street furnishings, pedestrian signals, parking, and other components of public rights-of-way.
The Access Board published the Draft Guidelines to incorporate public comment received in response to the draft guidelines published in June 2002. The Access Board placed these revised draft guidelines on its website (https://www.access-board.gov/prowac/index.htm) for public information. The Draft Guidelines are under consideration by the Board, and the Board could change these guidelines in its final rule.
The purpose of placing the Draft Guidelines in the docket is to facilitate gathering of additional information for the regulatory assessment and the preparation of technical assistance materials to accompany a future rule. The Board is not seeking comments on the Draft Guidelines. The Board will issue a notice of proposed rulemaking at a future date and will solicit comments at that time, prior to issuing a final rule.
The Draft Guidelines are not standards until adopted by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Transportation. The present standards to be followed are the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) standards. However, the Draft Guidelines are the currently recommended best practices, and can be considered the state of the practice that could be followed for areas not fully addressed by the present ADAAG standards. Further, the Draft Guidelines are consistent with the ADA's requirement that all new facilities (and altered facilities to the maximum extent feasible) be designed and constructed to be accessible to and useable by people with disabilities.
The FHWA is responsible for implementation of pedestrian access requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504). This is accomplished through stewardship and oversight over all Federal, State, and local governmental agencies that build and maintain highways and roadways, whether or not they use Federal funds on a particular project.
Please distribute this information to the States, and work with the States to distribute these revised draft guidelines widely.
FHWA Point of Contact: Ms. Lisa MacPhee, Attorney-Advisor, Office of Chief Counsel (202) 366-1392, and Ms. Candace Groudine, Special Assistant to the Associate Administrator for Civil Rights (202)-366-4634.
To provide Feedback, Suggestions, or Comments for this page contact John C. Fegan at [email protected].
See original memorandum at https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bikeped/prwaa.htm.
Draft PROWAG--Sections related to accessibility for people who are visually impaired
[The sections on APS are not included here because the APS sections of the MUTCD are more comprehensive. The Draft PROWAG, including a discussion of provisions, and technical assistance questions and answers, can be found at https://www.access-board.gov/prowac/draft.htm]
Chapter R2: scoping Requirements
R206 Pedestrian Crossings
Where a pedestrian street or rail track crossing is provided, it shall contain a pedestrian access route complying with R301 and the applicable provisions of R305. Where a pedestrian rail crossing is not contained within a street or highway, a detectable warning shall be provided in compliance with R304.
Advisory R206 Pedestrian Crossings. When tracks are located in a street or highway that has a pedestrian route, the detectable warnings at the curb ramps make a second set of detectable warnings at the rail unnecessary in most applications. When rail tracks are not associated with a street or highway, they must have detectable warnings across the pedestrian access route on either side.
R207 Curb Ramps and Blended Transitions
A curb ramp or blended transition complying with R303, or a combination of curb ramps and blended transitions, shall connect the pedestrian access route to each pedestrian street crossing within the width of each crosswalk.
R208 Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS)
Where pedestrian signals are provided at pedestrian street crossings, they shall comply with R306.
[Section R306 is not contained in this attachment. The Draft PROWAG is likely to be revised to be consistent with the MUTCD 2009 sections on APS, which are provided in Attachment D.]
R209 Protruding Objects
Protruding objects along or overhanging any portion of a pedestrian circulation path shall comply with R401 and shall not reduce the clear width required for pedestrian access routes.
Advisory R209 Protruding Objects. Banners, awnings, tree branches, and temporary street or highway signs may also be hazards if not placed or maintained properly.
R210 Pedestrian Signs
R210.1 General. Signs designed primarily for pedestrian use shall comply with R210.R210.2 Bus Route Identification. Bus route identification signs shall comply with R409.5.1 through R409.5.4, and R409.5.7 and R409.5.8. In addition, to the maximum extent practicable, bus route identification signs shall comply with R409.5.5. Bus route identification signs located at bus shelters shall provide raised and braille characters complying with R409.2, and shall have rounded corners. Signs shall not be required to comply with R409.2 where audible signs are user- or proximity-actuated or are remotely transmitted to a portable receiver carried by an individual. Bus schedules, timetables and maps that are posted at the bus stop or bus shelter are not required to comply.
R210.3 Directional, Informational, and Warning Signs. Directional, informational, and warning signs shall comply with R409.5.
Advisory R210.3 Directional, Informational, and Warning Signs. This provision applies legibility criteria to text signs. Examples of covered signs include, but are not limited to, sidewalk closure and pedestrian detour signing required by MUTCD, tourist information signing, and pedestrian route signing along an historic trail. Standard highway street-name signage is not covered by this part.
Braille identification of street names is a required feature where APS are provided (see R306).
A proximity-,-user-, or button-activated audible sign can provide this information in audible formats for pedestrians who don’t read print. Such devices are now being manufactured for rights-of-way applications.
R221 Detectable Warning Surfaces
Detectable warning surfaces shall comply with R304.
Advisory R221 Detectable Warning Surfaces. Detectable warning surfaces are required where curb ramps, blended transitions, or landings provide a flush pedestrian connection to the street. Sidewalk crossings of residential driveways should not generally be provided with detectable warnings, since the pedestrian right-of-way continues across most driveway aprons and overuse of detectable warning surfaces should be avoided in the interests of message clarity. However, where commercial driveways are provided with traffic control devices or otherwise are permitted to operate like public streets, detectable warnings should be provided at the junction between the pedestrian route and the street.
Chapter R3: Technical Provisions
R302 Alternate Circulation Path
R302.1 General. Alternate circulation paths shall comply with R302 and shall contain a pedestrian access route complying with R301.
Advisory R302.1 General. Temporary routes are alterations to an existing developed pedestrian environment and are required to achieve the maximum accessibility feasible under existing conditions.
R302.2 Location. To the maximum extent feasible, the alternate circulation path shall be provided on the same side of the street as the disrupted route.
Advisory R302.2 Location. Where it is not feasible to provide a same-side alternate circulation path and pedestrians will be detoured, section 6D.02 of the MUTCD specifies that the alternate path provide a similar level of accessibility to that of the existing disrupted route. This may include the incorporation of accessible pedestrian signals (APS), curb ramps, or other accessibility features.
R302.4 Pedestrian Barricades and Channelizing Devices. Pedestrian barricades and channelizing devices shall be continuous, stable, and non-flexible and shall consist of a wall, fence, or enclosures specified in section 6F-58, 6F-63, and 6F-66 of the MUTCD (incorporated by reference; see R104.2.4).
R302.4.1 Detectable Base. A continuous bottom edge shall be provided 150 mm (6 in) maximum above the ground or walkway surface.
R302.4.2 Height. Devices shall provide a continuous surface or upper rail at 0.9 m (3.0 ft) minimum above the ground or walkway surface. Support members shall not protrude into the alternate circulation path.
R303 Curb Ramps and Blended Transitions
R303.1 General. Curb ramps and blended transitions shall comply with R303.
Advisory R303.1 General. Curb ramps can be a key source of wayfinding information for pedestrians who travel without vision cues if they are installed in-line with the direction of pedestrian travel at crossings. This is most easily accomplished by locating the ramp at the tangent point of the curb return, using either a small curb radius in an attached sidewalk or, in larger radii, a border or setback from the street edge. The Institute of Transportation Engineers (www.ite.org) has undertaken an industry-wide effort to develop and standardize intersection plans that optimize wayfinding. The challenge for practitioners is to provide usability for pedestrians in wheelchairs and scooters with a rectangular ramp plan that can also be directional.
R303.3.2 Detectable Warnings. Detectable warning surfaces complying with R304 shall be provided, where a curb ramp, landing, or blended transition connects to a street.
R304 Detectable Warning Surfaces
R304.1 General. Detectable warnings shall consist of a surface of truncated domes aligned in a square or radial grid pattern and shall comply with R304.
R304.1.1 Dome Size. Truncated domes in a detectable warning surface shall have a base diameter of 23 mm (0.9 in) minimum to 36 mm (1.4 in) maximum, a top diameter of 50 percent of the base diameter minimum to 65 percent of the base diameter maximum, and a height of 5 mm (0.2 in).
Advisory R304.1.1 Dome Size. Where domes are arrayed radially, they may differ in diameter within the ranges specified.
R304.1.2 Dome Spacing. Truncated domes in a detectable warning surface shall have a center-to-center spacing of 41 mm (1.6 in) minimum and 61 mm (2.4 in) maximum, and a base-to-base spacing of 17 mm (0.65 in) minimum, measured between the most adjacent domes.
Advisory R304.1.2 Dome Spacing. Where domes are arrayed radially, they may differ in center-to-center spacing within the range specified.
R304.1.3 Contrast. Detectable warning surfaces shall contrast visually with adjacent gutter, street or highway, or walkway surfaces, either light-on-dark or dark-on-light.
Advisory R304.1.3 Contrast. Contrast may be provided on the full ramp surface but should not extend to the flared sides. Many pedestrians use the visual contrast at the toe of the ramp to locate the curb ramp opening from the other side of the street.
R304.1.4 Size. Detectable warning surfaces shall extend 610 mm (24 in) minimum in the direction of travel and the full width of the curb ramp (exclusive of flares), the landing, or the blended transition.
R304.2 Location and Alignment
R304.2.1 Perpendicular Curb Ramps. Where both ends of the bottom grade break complying with R303.3.4 are 1.5 m (5.0 ft) or less from the back of curb, the detectable warning shall be located on the ramp surface at the bottom grade break. Where either end of the bottom grade break is more than 1.5 m (5.0 ft) from the back of curb, the detectable warning shall be located on the lower landing.
Advisory R304.2.1 Perpendicular Curb Ramps. Detectable warnings are intended to provide a tactile equivalent underfoot of the visible curbline; those placed too far from the street edge because of a large curb radius may compromise effective crossing analysis.
R304.2.2 Landings and Blended Transitions. The detectable warning shall be located on the landing or blended transition at the back of curb.
R304.2.3 Alignment. The rows of truncated domes in a detectable warning surface shall be aligned to be perpendicular or radial to the grade break between the ramp, landing, or blended transition and the street.
Advisory R304.2.3 Alignment. Where a ramp, landing, or blended transition provides access to the street continuously around a corner, the vertical rows of truncated domes in a detectable warning surface should be aligned to be perpendicular or radial to the grade break between the ramp and the street for a 1.2 meter-wide (4.0 ft) width for each crosswalk served.
R304.2.3 Rail Crossings. The detectable warning surface shall be located so that the edge nearest the rail crossing is 1.8 m (6 ft) minimum and 4.6 m (15 ft) maximum from the centerline of the nearest rail. The rows of truncated domes in a detectable warning surface shall be aligned to be parallel with the direction of wheelchair travel.
R305 Pedestrian Crossings
R305.3 Pedestrian Signal Phase Timing. All pedestrian signal phase timing shall be calculated using a pedestrian walk speed of 1.1 m/s (3.5 ft/s) maximum. The crosswalk distance used in calculating pedestrian signal phase timing shall include the entire length of the crosswalk.
R305.4 Medians and Pedestrian Refuge Islands. Medians and pedestrian refuge islands in crosswalks shall comply with R305.4 and shall contain a pedestrian access route, including passing space, complying with R301 and connecting to each crosswalk.
R305.4.1 Length. Medians and pedestrian refuge islands shall be 1.8 m (6.0 ft) minimum in length in the direction of pedestrian travel.
Advisory R305.4.1 Length. The edges of cut-throughs and curb ramps are useful as cues to the direction of a crossing. This should be considered when planning an angled route through a median or island. Curb ramps in medians and islands can add difficulty to the crossing for some users. There are many factors to consider when deciding whether to ramp or cut-through a median or island. Those factors may include slope and cross slope of road, drainage, and width of median or island.
R305.4.2 Detectable Warnings. Medians and pedestrian refuge islands shall have detectable warnings complying with R304 at curb ramps and blended transitions. Detectable warnings at cut-through islands shall be located at the curbline in-line with the face of curb and shall be separated by a 61 cm (2.0 ft) minimum length of walkway without detectable warnings. Where the island has no curb, the detectable warning shall be located at the edge of roadway.
R305.6 Roundabout Intersections. Where pedestrian facilities are provided at roundabout intersections, they shall comply with R305.6 and shall contain a pedestrian access route complying with R301.
R305.6.1 Separation. If walkways are curb-attached, there shall be a continuous and detectable edge treatment along the street side of the walkway wherever pedestrian crossing is not intended. Where chains, fencing, or railings are used, they shall have a bottom element 38 cm (15 in) maximum above the pedestrian access route.
Advisory R305.6.1 Separation. Because the pedestrian crossings are located off to the side of the pedestrian route around the street or highway and noise from continuously circulating traffic may mask useful audible cues. Carefully delineated crosswalk approaches with plantings, low enclosures, curbs, or other defined edges can be effective in identifying the crossing location(s). European and Australian roundabout intersections extend a 6- cm (24-inch) width of tactile surface treatment from the centerline of the ramp or blended transition across the full width of the sidewalk to provide an underfoot cue. Several manufacturers make a surface of raised bars for this use. The detectable warning surface should not be used, since it indicates the edge of a street or highway.
Schemes that remove cyclists from the circulating street or highway by means of a ramp that angles from the curb lane to the sidewalk and then provide re-entry by means of a similar ramp beyond the pedestrian crossing may provide false cues about the location of a crossing to pedestrians who are using the edge of the sidewalk for wayfinding. Designers should consider ways to mitigate this hazard.
R305.6.2 Signals. At roundabouts with multi-lane crossings, a pedestrian activated signal complying with R306 shall be provided for each segment of each crosswalk, including the splitter island. Signals shall clearly identify which crosswalk segment the signal serves.
Advisory R305.6.2 Signals. There are many suitable demand signals for this application. Crossings at some roundabout intersections in Australia and the United Kingdom incorporate such systems, in which the driver first sees a flashing amber signal upon pedestrian activation and then a solid red while the pedestrian crosses to the splitter island (there is no green). These types of signals are also used in some U.S. cities at pedestrian crossings of arterial street or highways. The pedestrian pushbutton should be identifiable by a locator tone, and an accessible pedestrian signal incorporated to provide audible and vibrotactile notice of the gap created by the red signal. If properly signed, it need only be used occasionally by those who do not wish to rely solely on visual gap selection.
Roundabout intersections with single-lane approach and exit legs are not required to provide signals.
R305.7 Channelized Turn Lanes at Intersections. Where pedestrian crosswalks are provided at multi-lane right or left channelized turn lanes at intersections with pedestrian signal indications, a pedestrian activated signal complying with R306 shall be provided.
Advisory R305.7 Channelized Turn Lanes at Intersections. Accessible pedestrian signal devices installed at splitter and ‘pork chop’ islands must be carefully located and separated so that signal spillover does not give conflicting information about which crossing has the WALK indication displayed.
Additional guidance on signal types is provided in Advisory R305.6.2.
R306 Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS)
R306.1 General. Pedestrian signals shall comply with R306.
R306.2 Pedestrian Signals. Each crosswalk with pedestrian signal indication shall have 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 accessible pedestrian signal and shall comply with R306.2.
[Other Draft PROWAG provisions related to APS are omitted, as they are likely to be revised to be consistent with NUTCD 2009.]
Chapter R4: Supplementary Technical Provisions
R401 Protruding Objects
R401.1 General. Protruding objects on sidewalks and other pedestrian circulation paths shall comply with R401 and shall not reduce the clear width required for pedestrian access routes.
Advisory R401.1 General. Banners, awnings, tree branches, sidewalk sculpture, and temporary street or highway signs can become protruding objects if not placed or maintained properly.
R401.2 Protrusion Limits. Objects with leading edges more than 685 mm (27 in) and not more than 2 m (80 in) above the finish surface or ground shall protrude 100 mm (4 in) maximum horizontally into the pedestrian circulation path.
R401.3 Post-Mounted Objects. Objects mounted on free-standing posts or pylons, 685 mm (27 inches) minimum and 2030 mm (80 inches) maximum above the finish surface or ground, shall overhang circulation paths 100 mm (4 inches) maximum beyond the post or pylon base measured 150 mm (6 inches) minimum above the finish surface or ground. Where a sign or other obstruction is mounted between posts or pylons and the clear distance between the posts or pylons is greater than 305 mm (12 in), the lowest edge of such sign or obstruction shall be 685 mm (27 in) maximum or 2 m (80 in) minimum above the finish surface.
R409.1 General. Signs shall comply with R409. Where both visual and tactile characters are required, either one sign with both visual and tactile characters, or two separate signs, one with visual, and one with tactile characters, shall be provided.
R409.2 Raised Characters. Raised characters shall comply with R409.2 and shall be duplicated in braille complying with R409.3. Raised characters shall be installed in accordance with R409.4.
Advisory R409.2 Raised Characters. Signs that are designed to be read by touch should not have sharp or abrasive edges.
R409.2.1 Depth. Raised characters shall be 0.8 mm (.03 in) minimum above their background.
R409.2.2 Case. Characters shall be uppercase.
R409.2.3 Style. Characters shall be sans serif. Characters shall not be italic, oblique, script, highly decorative, or of other unusual forms.
R409.2.4 Character Proportions. Characters shall be selected from fonts where the width of the uppercase letter "O" is 55 percent minimum and 110 percent maximum of the height of the uppercase letter "I".
R409.2.5 Character Height. Character height measured vertically from the baseline of the character shall be 16 mm (0.625 in) minimum and 51 mm (2 in) maximum based on the height of the uppercase letter "I". Where separate raised and visual characters with the same information are provided, raised character height shall be permitted to be 13 mm (0.5 in) minimum.
R409.2.6 Stroke Thickness. Stroke thickness of the uppercase letter "I" shall be 15 percent maximum of the height of the character.
R409.2.7 Character Spacing. Character spacing shall be measured between the two closest points of adjacent raised characters within a message, excluding word spaces. Where characters have rectangular cross sections, spacing between individual raised characters shall be 3.2 mm (0.125 in) minimum and 4 times the raised character stroke width maximum. Where characters have other cross sections, spacing between individual raised characters shall be 1.6 mm (.625 in) minimum and 4 times the raised character stroke width maximum at the base of the cross sections, and 3.2 mm (0.125 in) minimum and 4 times the raised character stroke width maximum at the top of the cross sections. Characters shall be separated from raised borders and decorative elements 9.5 mm (.375 in) minimum.
R409.2.8 Line Spacing. Spacing between the baselines of separate lines of raised characters within a message shall be 135 percent minimum and 170 percent maximum of the raised character height.
R409.3 Braille. Braille shall be contracted (Grade 2) and shall comply with R409.3 and R409.4.
R409.3.1 Dimensions and Capitalization. Braille dots shall have a domed or rounded shape and shall comply with Table R409.3.1. The indication of an uppercase letter or letters shall only be used before the first word of sentences, proper nouns and names, individual letters of the alphabet, initials, and acronyms.
R409.3.1 Braille Dimensions (Table reformatted)
Measurement Range: Minimum in Millimeters to Maximum in Millimeters
Dot base diameter: 1.5 mm (0.059 in) to 1.6 mm (0.063 in)
Distance between two dots in the same cell /1/: 2.3 mm (0.090 in) to 2.5 mm (0.100 in)
Distance between corresponding dots in adjacent cells /1/: 6.1 mm (0.241 in) to 7.6 mm (0.300 in)
Dot height: 0.6 mm (0.025 in) to 0.9 mm (0.037 in)
Distance between corresponding dots from one cell directly below /1/: 10 mm (0.395 in) to 10.2 mm (0.400 in)
/1/ Measured center to center.
R409.3.2 Position. Braille shall be positioned below the corresponding text. If text is multi-lined, braille shall be placed below the entire text. Braille shall be separated 9.5 mm (.375 in) minimum from any other tactile characters and 9.5 mm (.375 in) minimum from raised borders and decorative elements. Braille provided on elevator car controls shall be separated 4.8 mm (.1875 in) minimum and shall be located either directly below or adjacent to the corresponding raised characters or symbols.
R409.4 Installation Height and Location. Signs with tactile characters shall comply with R409.4.
R409.4.1 Height Above Finish Floor or Ground. Tactile characters on signs shall be located 1.2 m (4.0 ft) minimum above the finish floor or ground surface, measured from the baseline of the lowest tactile character and 1.5 m (5.0 ft) maximum above the finish floor or ground surface, measured from the baseline of the highest tactile character. Tactile characters for elevator car controls shall not be required to comply with R409.4.1.
R409.5 Visual Characters. Visual characters shall comply with R409.5. Where visual characters comply with R409.2 and are accompanied by braille complying with R409.3, they shall not be required to comply with R409.5.2 through R409.5.9.
R409.5.1 Finish and Contrast. Characters and their background shall have a non-glare finish. Characters shall contrast with their background with either light characters on a dark background or dark characters on a light background.
Advisory R409.5.1 Finish and Contrast. Signs are more legible for persons with low vision when characters contrast as much as possible with their background. Additional factors affecting the ease with which the text can be distinguished from its background include shadows cast by lighting sources, surface glare, and the uniformity of the text and its background colors and textures.
R409.5.2 Case. Characters shall be uppercase or lowercase or a combination of both.
R409.5.3 Style. Characters shall be conventional in form. Characters shall not be italic, oblique, script, highly decorative, or of other unusual forms.
R409.5.4 Character Proportions. Characters shall be selected from fonts where the width of the uppercase letter "O" is 55 percent minimum and 110 percent maximum of the height of the uppercase letter "I".
R409.5.5 Character Height. Minimum character height shall comply with Table R409.5.5. Viewing distance shall be measured as the horizontal distance between the character and an obstruction preventing further approach towards the sign. Character height shall be based on the uppercase letter "I".
R409.5.5 Visual Character Height (table reformatted)
Height to Finish Floor or Ground From Baseline of Character: Horizontal Viewing Distance; Minimum Character Height
1.0 m (3.3 ft) to less than or equal to 1.8 m (5.8 ft): less than 1.8 m (6 ft); 16 mm (0.625 in)
1.0 m (3.3 ft) to less than or equal to 1.8 m (5.8 ft): 1.8 m (6 ft) and greater; 16 mm (0.625 in), plus 3.2 mm (0.125 in) per 0.3 m (one ft) of viewing distance above 1.8 m (6 ft)
Greater than 1.8 m (5.8 ft) to less than or equal to 3.0 m (10 ft): less than 4.6 m (15 ft); 51 mm (2 in)
Greater than 1.8 m (5.8 ft) to less than or equal to 3.0 m (10 ft): 4.6 m (15 ft) and greater; 51 mm (2 in), plus 3.2 mm (0.125 in) per 0.3 m (12 in) of viewing distance above 4.6 m (15 ft)
Greater than 3.0 m (10 ft): less than 6.4 m (21 ft); 75 mm (3 in)
Greater than 3.0 m (10 ft): 6.4 m (21 ft) and greater; 75 mm (3 in), plus 3.2 mm (0.125 in) per 0.3 m (12 in) of viewing distance above 6.4 m (21 ft)
R409.5.6 Height from Finish Floor or Ground. Visual characters shall be 1.0 m (3.25 ft) minimum above the finish floor or ground. Visual characters indicating elevator car controls shall not be required to comply with R409.5.6.
R409.5.7 Stroke Thickness. Stroke thickness of the uppercase letter "I" shall be 10 percent minimum and 30 percent maximum of the height of the character.
R409.5.8 Character Spacing. Character spacing shall be measured between the two closest points of adjacent characters, excluding word spaces. Spacing between individual characters shall be 10 percent minimum and 35 percent maximum of character height.
R409.5.9 Line Spacing. Spacing between the baselines of separate lines of characters within a message shall be 135 percent minimum and 170 percent maximum of the character height.
R414 Rail Platforms
R414.3 Detectable Warnings. Platform boarding edges not protected by platform screens or guards shall have detectable warnings complying with R304 along the full length of the public use area of the platform.
R415 Rail Station Signs
R415.1 General. Rail station signs shall comply with R415.
Advisory R415.1 General. Emerging technologies such as audible sign systems using infrared transmitters and receivers may provide greater accessibility in the transit environment than traditional braille and raised letter signs. The transmitters are placed on or next to print signs and transmit their information to an infrared receiver that is held by a person. By scanning an area, the person will hear the sign. This means that signs can be placed well out of reach of pedestrians, even on parapet walls and on walls beyond barriers. Additionally, such signs can be used to provide wayfinding information that cannot be efficiently conveyed on braille signs.
R415.2 Entrances. Where signs identify a station or its entrance, at least one sign at each entrance shall comply with R409.2 and shall be placed in uniform locations to the maximum extent practicable. Where signs identify a station that has no defined entrance, at least one sign shall comply with R409.2 and shall be placed in a central location. Tactile signs shall not be required where audible signs are remotely transmitted to hand-held receivers, or are user- or proximity-actuated.
R415.3 Routes and Destinations. Lists of stations, routes and destinations served by the station which are located on boarding areas, platforms, or mezzanines shall comply with R409.5. Signs covered by this requirement shall, to the maximum extent practicable, be placed in uniform locations within the system. Where sign space is limited, characters shall not be required to exceed 75 mm (3 in). At least one tactile sign identifying the specific station and complying with R409.2 shall be provided on each platform or boarding area. Tactile signs shall not be required where audible signs are remotely transmitted to hand-held receivers, or are user- or proximity-actuated. Route maps are not required to comply.
R415.4 Station Names. Stations covered by this section shall have identification signs complying with R409.5. Signs shall be clearly visible and within the sight lines of standing and sitting passengers from within the vehicle on both sides when not obstructed by another vehicle.
Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices 2009--Sections related to accessibility for people who are visually impaired
Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)
Section 4E.09 Accessible Pedestrian Signals and Detectors – General
01 Accessible pedestrian signals and detectors provide information in non-visual formats (such as audible tones, speech messages, and/or vibrating surfaces).
02 The primary technique that pedestrians who have visual disabilities use to cross streets at signalized locations is to initiate their crossing when they hear the traffic in front of them stop and the traffic alongside them begin to move, which often corresponds to the onset of the green interval. The existing environment is often not sufficient to provide the information that pedestrians who have visual disabilities need to cross a roadway at a signalized location.
03 If a particular signalized location presents difficulties for pedestrians who have visual disabilities to cross the roadway, an engineering study should be conducted that considers the needs of pedestrians in general, as well as the information needs of pedestrians with visual disabilities. The engineering study should consider the following factors:
A. Potential demand for accessible pedestrian signals;
B. A request for accessible pedestrian signals;
C. Traffic volumes during times when pedestrians might be present, including periods of low traffic volumes or high turn-on-red volumes;
D. The complexity of traffic signal phasing (such as split phases, protected turn phases, leading pedestrian intervals, and exclusive pedestrian phases); and
E. The complexity of intersection geometry.
04 The factors that make crossing at a signalized location difficult for pedestrians who have visual disabilities include: increasingly quiet cars, right turn on red (which masks the beginning of the through phase), continuous right-turn movements, complex signal operations, traffic circles, and wide streets. Furthermore, low traffic volumes might make it difficult for pedestrians who have visual disabilities to discern signal phase changes.
05 Local organizations, providing support services to pedestrians who have visual and/or hearing disabilities, can often act as important advisors to the transportation professional when consideration is being given to the installation of devices to assist such pedestrians. Additionally, orientation and mobility specialists or similar staff also might be able to provide a wide range of advice. The U.S. Access Board (www.access-board.gov) provides technical assistance for making pedestrian signal information available to persons with visual disabilities (see Page i for the address for the U.S. Access Board).
06 When used, accessible pedestrian signals shall be used in combination with pedestrian signal timing.
The information provided by an accessible pedestrian signal shall clearly indicate which pedestrian crossing is served by each device.
07 Under stop-and-go operation, accessible pedestrian signals shall not be limited in operation by the time of day or day of week.
08 Accessible pedestrian signal detectors may be pushbuttons or passive detection devices.
09 At locations with pretimed traffic control signals or non-actuated approaches, pedestrian pushbuttons may be used to activate the accessible pedestrian signals.
10 Accessible pedestrian signals are typically integrated into the pedestrian detector (pushbutton), so the audible tones and/or messages come from the pushbutton housing. They have a pushbutton locator tone and tactile arrow, and can include audible beaconing and other special features.
11 The name of the street to be crossed may also be provided in accessible format, such as Braille or raised print.
Tactile maps of crosswalks may also be provided.
12 Specifications regarding the use of Braille or raised print for traffic control devices can be found in the “Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities (ADAAG)” (see Section 1A.11).
Sect. 4E.09 December 2009
2009 Edition Page 505
13 At accessible pedestrian signal locations where pedestrian pushbuttons are used, each pushbutton shall activate both the walk interval and the accessible pedestrian signals.
Section 4E.10 Accessible Pedestrian Signals and Detectors – Location
01 Accessible pedestrian signals that are located as close as possible to pedestrians waiting to cross the street provide the clearest and least ambiguous indication of which pedestrian crossing is served by a device.
02 Pushbuttons for accessible pedestrian signals should be located in accordance with the provisions of Section 4E.08 and should be located as close as possible to the crosswalk line furthest from the center of the intersection and as close as possible to the curb ramp.
03 If two accessible pedestrian pushbuttons are placed less than 10 feet apart or on the same pole, each accessible pedestrian pushbutton shall be provided with the following features (see Sections 4E.11 through 4E.13):
A. A pushbutton locator tone,
B. A tactile arrow,
C. A speech walk message for the WALKING PERSON (symbolizing WALK) indication, and
D. A speech pushbutton information message.
04 If the pedestrian clearance time is sufficient only to cross from the curb or shoulder to a median of sufficient width for pedestrians to wait and accessible pedestrian detectors are used, an additional accessible pedestrian detector shall be provided in the median.
Section 4E.11 Accessible Pedestrian Signals and Detectors – Walk Indications
01 Technology that provides different sounds for each non-concurrent signal phase has frequently been found to provide ambiguous information. Research indicates that a rapid tick tone for each crossing coming from accessible pedestrian signal devices on separated poles located close to each crosswalk provides unambiguous information to pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired. Vibrotactile indications provide information to pedestrians who are blind and deaf and are also used by pedestrians who are blind or who have low vision to confirm the walk signal in noisy situations.
02 Accessible pedestrian signals shall have both audible and vibrotactile walk indications.
03 Vibrotactile walk indications shall be provided by a tactile arrow on the pushbutton (see Section 4E.12) that vibrates during the walk interval.
04 Accessible pedestrian signals shall have an audible walk indication during the walk interval only. The audible walk indication shall be audible from the beginning of the associated crosswalk.
05 The accessible walk indication shall have the same duration as the pedestrian walk signal except when the pedestrian signal rests in walk.
06 If the pedestrian signal rests in walk, the accessible walk indication should be limited to the first 7 seconds of the walk interval. The accessible walk indication should be recalled by a button press during the walk interval provided that the crossing time remaining is greater than the pedestrian change interval.
07 Where two accessible pedestrian signals are separated by a distance of at least 10 feet, the audible walk indication shall be a percussive tone. Where two accessible pedestrian signals on one corner are not separated by a distance of at least 10 feet, the audible walk indication shall be a speech walk message.
08 Audible tone walk indications shall repeat at eight to ten ticks per second. Audible tones used as walk indications shall consist of multiple frequencies with a dominant component at 880 Hz.
09 The volume of audible walk indications and pushbutton locator tones (see Section 4E.12) should be set to be a maximum of 5 dBA louder than ambient sound, except when audible beaconing is provided in response to an extended pushbutton press.
December 2009 Sect. 4E.09 to 4E.11
Page 506 2009 Edition
10 Automatic volume adjustment in response to ambient traffic sound level shall be provided up to a maximum volume of 100 dBA.
11 The sound level of audible walk indications and pushbutton locator tones should be adjusted to be low enough to avoid misleading pedestrians who have visual disabilities when the following conditions exist:
A. Where there is an island that allows unsignalized right turns across a crosswalk between the island and the sidewalk.
B. Where multi-leg approaches or complex signal phasing require more than two pedestrian phases, such that it might be unclear which crosswalk is served by each audible tone.
C. At intersections where a diagonal pedestrian crossing is allowed, or where one street receives a WALKING PERSON (symbolizing WALK) signal indication simultaneously with another street.
12 An alert tone, which is a very brief burst of high-frequency sound at the beginning of the audible walk
indication that rapidly decays to the frequency of the walk tone, may be used to alert pedestrians to the beginning of the walk interval.
13 An alert tone can be particularly useful if the walk tone is not easily audible in some traffic conditions.
14 Speech walk messages communicate to pedestrians which street has the walk interval. Speech messages might be either directly audible or transmitted, requiring a personal receiver to hear the message. To be a useful system, the words and their meaning need to be correctly understood by all users in the context of the street environment where they are used. Because of this, tones are the preferred means of providing audible walk indications except where two accessible pedestrian signals on one corner are not separated by a distance of at least 10 feet.
15 If speech walk messages are used, pedestrians have to know the names of the streets that they are crossing in order for the speech walk messages to be unambiguous. In getting directions to travel to a new location, pedestrians with visual disabilities do not always get the name of each street to be crossed. Therefore, it is desirable to give users of accessible pedestrian signals the name of the street controlled by the pushbutton. This can be done by means of a speech pushbutton information message (see Section 4D.13) during the flashing or steady UPRAISED HAND intervals, or by raised print and Braille labels on the pushbutton housing.
16 By combining the information from the pushbutton message or Braille label, the tactile arrow aligned in the direction of travel on the relevant crosswalk, and the speech walk message, pedestrians with visual disabilities are able to correctly respond to speech walk messages even if there are two pushbuttons on the same pole.
17 If speech walk messages are used to communicate the walk interval, they shall provide a clear message that the walk interval is in effect, as well as to which crossing it applies. Speech walk messages shall be used only at intersections where it is technically infeasible to install two accessible pedestrian signals at one corner separated by a distance of at least 10 feet.
18 Speech walk messages that are used at intersections having pedestrian phasing that is concurrent with vehicular phasing shall be patterned after the model: “Broadway. Walk sign is on to cross Broadway.”
19 Speech walk messages that are used at intersections having exclusive pedestrian phasing shall be patterned after the model: “Walk sign is on for all crossings.”
20 Speech walk messages shall not contain any additional information, except they shall include designations such as “Street” or “Avenue” where this information is necessary to avoid ambiguity at a particular location.
21 Speech walk messages should not state or imply a command to the pedestrian, such as “Cross Broadway now.” Speech walk messages should not tell pedestrians that it is “safe to cross,” because it is always the pedestrian’s responsibility to check actual traffic conditions.
22 A speech walk message is not required at times when the walk interval is not timing, but, if provided:
A. It shall begin with the term “wait.”
B. It need not be repeated for the entire time that the walk interval is not timing.
23 If a pilot light (see Section 4E.08) is used at an accessible pedestrian signal location, each actuation shall be accompanied by the speech message “wait.”
Sect. 4E.11 December 2009
2009 Edition Page 507
24 Accessible pedestrian signals that provide speech walk messages may provide similar messages in languages other than English, if needed, except for the terms “walk sign” and “wait.”
25 Following the audible walk indication, accessible pedestrian signals shall revert to the pushbutton locator tone (see Section 4E.12) during the pedestrian change interval.
Section 4E.12 Accessible Pedestrian Signals and Detectors – Tactile Arrows and Locator Tones
01 To enable pedestrians who have visual disabilities to distinguish and locate the appropriate pushbutton at an accessible pedestrian signal location, pushbuttons shall clearly indicate by means of tactile arrows which crosswalk signal is actuated by each pushbutton. Tactile arrows shall be located on the pushbutton, have high visual contrast (light on dark or dark on light), and shall be aligned parallel to the direction of travel on the associated crosswalk.
02 An accessible pedestrian pushbutton shall incorporate a locator tone.
03 A pushbutton locator tone is a repeating sound that informs approaching pedestrians that a pushbutton to actuate pedestrian timing or receive additional information exists, and that enables pedestrians with visual disabilities to locate the pushbutton.
04 Pushbutton locator tones shall have a duration of 0.15 seconds or less, and shall repeat at 1-second intervals.
05 Pushbutton locator tones shall be deactivated when the traffic control signal is operating in a flashing mode. This requirement shall not apply to traffic control signals or pedestrian hybrid beacons that are activated from a flashing or dark mode to a stop-and-go mode by pedestrian actuations.
06 Pushbutton locator tones shall be intensity responsive to ambient sound, and be audible 6 to 12 feet from the pushbutton, or to the building line, whichever is less.
07 Section 4E.11 contains additional provisions regarding the volume and sound level of pushbutton locator tones.
Section 4E.13 Accessible Pedestrian Signals and Detectors – Extended Pushbutton Press Features
01 Pedestrians may be provided with additional features such as increased crossing time, audible beaconing, or a speech pushbutton information message as a result of an extended pushbutton press.
02 If an extended pushbutton press is used to provide any additional feature(s), a pushbutton press of less than one second shall actuate only the pedestrian timing and any associated accessible walk indication, and a pushbutton press of one second or more shall actuate the pedestrian timing, any associated accessible walk indication, and any additional feature(s).
03 If additional crossing time is provided by means of an extended pushbutton press, a PUSH BUTTON FOR 2 SECONDS FOR EXTRA CROSSING TIME (R10-32P) plaque (see Figure 2B-26) shall be mounted adjacent to or integral with the pedestrian pushbutton.
04 Audible beaconing is the use of an audible signal in such a way that pedestrians with visual disabilities can home in on the signal that is located on the far end of the crosswalk as they cross the street.
05 Not all crosswalks at an intersection need audible beaconing; audible beaconing can actually cause confusion if used at all crosswalks at some intersections. Audible beaconing is not appropriate at locations with channelized turns or split phasing, because of the possibility of confusion.
06 Audible beaconing should only be considered following an engineering study at:
A. Crosswalks longer than 70 feet, unless they are divided by a median that has another accessible pedestrian signal with a locator tone;
B. Crosswalks that are skewed;
C. Intersections with irregular geometry, such as more than four legs;
D. Crosswalks where audible beaconing is requested by an individual with visual disabilities; or
E. Other locations where a study indicates audible beaconing would be beneficial.
December 2009 Sect. 4E.11 to 4E.13
Page 508 2009 Edition
07 Audible beaconing may be provided in several ways, any of which are initiated by an extended
08 If audible beaconing is used, the volume of the pushbutton locator tone during the pedestrian change interval of the called pedestrian phase shall be increased and operated in one of the following ways:
A. The louder audible walk indication and louder locator tone comes from the far end of the crosswalk, as pedestrians cross the street,
B. The louder locator tone comes from both ends of the crosswalk, or
C. The louder locator tone comes from an additional speaker that is aimed at the center of the crosswalk and that is mounted on a pedestrian signal head.
09 Speech pushbutton information messages may provide intersection identification, as well as information about unusual intersection signalization and geometry, such as notification regarding exclusive pedestrian phasing, leading pedestrian intervals, split phasing, diagonal crosswalks, and medians or islands.
10 If speech pushbutton information messages are made available by actuating the accessible pedestrian signal detector, they shall only be actuated when the walk interval is not timing. They shall begin with the term “Wait,” followed by intersection identification information modeled after: “Wait to cross Broadway at Grand.” If information on intersection signalization or geometry is also given, it shall follow the intersection identification information.
11 Speech pushbutton information messages should not be used to provide landmark information or to inform pedestrians with visual disabilities about detours or temporary traffic control situations.
12 Additional information on the structure and wording of speech pushbutton information messages is included in ITE’s “Electronic Toolbox for Making Intersections More Accessible for Pedestrians Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired,” which is available at ITE’s website (see Page i).
Section 6F.16 Warning Sign Function, Design, and Application
08. Where road users include pedestrians, the provision of supplemental audible information or detectable barriers or barricades should be considered for people with visual disabilities.
09. Detectable barriers or barricades communicate very clearly to pedestrians who have visual disabilities that they can no longer proceed in the direction that they are traveling.
Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) and Americans with Disabilities Act and Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Guidelines (New ADAAG). U.S. Access Board. 2002. https://www.access-board.gov/adaag/html/adaag.htm
Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Transportation. U.S. Access Board, 2006. https://www.access-board.gov/ADA-ABA/ada-standards-dot.cfm
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Americans with Disabilities Page.https://www.ada.gov/
Barlow, J. & Bentzen, B.L. (1994). Cues blind travelers use to detect streets. Final report. Cambridge, MA: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration, Volpe National Transportation Systems Center.
Barlow, J. & Bentzen, B.L. (1995). Cues blind travelers use to detect streets. Final report. Cambridge, MA: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration, Volpe National Transportation Systems Center.
Bentzen, B.L. & Barlow, J.M. (1995). Impact of curb ramps on safety of persons who are blind. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 89, 319-328.
Draft Public Rights-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines, 2002. U.S. Access Board, http://access-board.gov/rowdraft.htm
Proposed Accessibility Guidelines for Pedestrian Facilities in the Public Right-of-Way http://access-board.gov/prowac/nprm.htm
Draft Public Rights-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines, Revised, 2005. U.S. Access Board http://access-board.gov/prowac/draft.htm
Federal Register. U.S. Government Printing Office.http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/browse/collection.action?collectionCode=FR
Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, 2009. Federal Highway Administration. https://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/kno_2009.htm
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights.https://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/resources/factsheets/504.pdf
28 CFR Part 36: ADA Standards for Accessible Design, 1994. United States Department of Justice. https://www.ada.gov/adastd94.pdf