In 1997, ITE's Traffic Engineering Council formed the Committee on Accessible Intersections for Pedestrians who are Blind or Visually Impaired (TENC-97-09). The Committee includes ITE members and representatives of advocacy and professional organizations active in the blindness field. The Committee is Chaired by Herman F. Huang of
Sprinkle Consulting, Inc. The objective of the Committee is to identify the characteristics of an "accessible intersection," produce a toolbox for making intersections more accessible, and to identify research needs for the tools discussed in the toolbox to form the basis for a future recommended practice.
The Electronic Toolbox for Making Intersections More Accessible for Pedestrians Who are Blind or Visually Impaired includes information either developed by the Committee or identified by the Committee as useful to creating intersections that are more accessible to pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired. The Committee remains active and will add information to this toolbox as it is developed or identified.
of an Accessible Intersection
An accessible intersection is a street crossing that is usable by pedestrians who have mobility, cognitive, and/or sensory impairments. Intersection accessibility can be evaluated in a new or altered facility by a comparison to accessibility standards for new construction and alterations promulgated under several Federal statutes or adopted by a State or local government The ADA permits existing pedestrian facilities to be measured more flexibly, as part of an overall pedestrian circulation program that may not achieve individual facility or feature compliance but can provide general pedestrian access to locations served by the pedestrian circulation system.
Standards implemented under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) of 1968, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (often referred to as ‘504’)and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 include scoping and technical provisions for newly constructed and altered pedestrian walkways. They include criteria for protruding objects, surfaces, ramps and curb ramps, and parking that can be broadly applied to the public right-of-way. Recommendations published in January 2001 by the Public Rights-of-Way Access Advisory Committee (PROWAAC) will be developed into to new guidelines specific to public sidewalks, street crossings, and related pedestrian facilities by the U.S. Access Board in 2002. PROWAAC recommendations refine current guidelines for application to the public right-of-way and suggest new signaling, information, and wayfinding provisions for pedestrians who have vision impairments.
Potential Funding Sources for Making an Intersection Accessible
The combined funding of Federal, State and local government on surface transportation is one of this county’s largest domestic spending programs. The funding for pedestrian issues has increased dramatically since 1991. This increase was spurred by transportation legislation, grassroots support, and accessibility policies. Pedestrian projects and programs are eligible for funding in almost every major Federal-aid surface transportation category. Transportation legislation, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991 and the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) of 1998, call for mainstreaming pedestrian (and bicycle) projects into planning, design, and operation of our Nation’s transportation system.
Public Rights-of-Way Access Advisory Committee Special Report: Accessible Public Rights-of-Way Planning and Designing for Alterations
Funding for Highways, Transit, and Pedestrian and Bicycle Activities (2/10/03)
Accessible Pedestrian Signal
Features - New Possibilities for Access in the US
This audiovisual slide show describes features of accessible
pedestrian signals (APS). It contains photos of actual APS installations. On
several slides, you can click on the slide to hear locator tones, walk signal
tones, or speech messages. One slide shows a device that includes a tactile
crosswalk map. Guidelines on push button location and audible beaconing are
Recommended Language for Speech Messages used by Accessible Pedestrian Signals
The objective of the research in this report
was to develop recommendations for the structure and content of walk messages
and pushbutton messages for directly audible APSs. An Expert Panel of
stakeholders created a survey with questions on preferences for APS speech
message structure and wording. Pedestrians with visual impairments,
orientation and mobility specialists, transportation engineers, and APS
manufacturers all participated in this survey. The survey also contained items
to evaluate the understanding of various message types by respondent groups,
and preferences for use of a pushbutton delay feature to actuate pushbutton
messages. The Expert Panel developed a series of recommended walk messages and
pushbutton messages based on their own expertise and the survey results. These
are presented at the end of the report.
Barriers to Blind Pedestrians at Signalized Intersections (9/00)
ITE Journal article presents the results of a survey of Orientation and Mobility
Specialists regarding the problems students with visual impairments experience
at signalized intersections. Orientation
and Mobility Specialists are individuals who are professionally trained to teach
people who are blind or visually impaired to travel independently. In the
practice of their profession, they regularly provide instruction in crossing
streets at signalized intersections.
Council of the Blind Survey of Signalized Intersection Accessibility
American Council of the Blind (ACB) surveyed 158 pedestrians who are legally
blind regarding their experiences in independently crossing at intersections
with and without audible signals.
- 91% of
respondents indicated that they sometimes had difficulty knowing when to begin
crossing (difficulty hearing surge of traffic on street beside them), which
they attributed to one or more of four reasons.
- 79% of
respondents indicated that they sometimes had difficulty traveling straight
across the street, for one or more of the following three reasons.
- 90% of
respondents had experienced one or more of the following problems with push
- 71% of respondents had experienced one or more of the
following eight difficulties with existing accessible pedestrian signal
Designing Sidewalks and Trails for Access, Part I, A Review of Existing
Designing Sidewalks and Trails for Access, Part II, Best Practices Guide
In an effort to determine when Americans with Disabilities Act Accessible
Guidelines (ADAAG) provisions apply to sidewalks and trails, and to bridge the remaining gaps, the Federal Highway Administration sponsored a project
to research existing conditions on sidewalks and trails for people with disabilities. Part I covers:
- Factors that affect the accessibility of sidewalks and trails in the
- The history of accessibility legislation and an overview of current
- The travel characteristics of people with disabilities, children, and
older adults in relation to their use of sidewalks and trails
- The effects of current legislation pertaining to sidewalk and trail
project planning and funding
- Current design practices used in the design of sidewalks and trails in
terms of accessibility, engineering, and construction
Part II is a practical tool for planning, designing, and constructing
sidewalks and trails. It offers a step-by-step approach to creating usable pedestrian facilities, and takes into account the needs of all users. It
- Performance measures for creating and environment that is usable for all
- How to assess the conditions of the existing pedestrian network for
- Setting priorities and maximizing resources
- Curb ramp design and application issues
- Applying geometric design to the pedestrian network
Accessible Pedestrian Signals - Synthesis and Guide to Best Practice
This online guide is an interim product for NCHRP Project 3-62, Guidelines for Accessible Pedestrian Signals, which is being carried out under a
contract with The University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center www.hsrc.unc.edu
under the direction of David L. Harkey
(Principal Investigator). It provides background information on how pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired cross streets, and how
Accessible Pedestrian Signals assist this process.
The Access Board is an independent Federal agency devoted to
accessibility for people with disabilities. It operates with about 30 staff
and a governing board of representatives from Federal departments and public
members appointed by the President. Key responsibilities of the Board include:
- developing and maintaining accessibility requirements for
the built environment, transit vehicles, telecommunications equipment, and
for electronic and information technology
- providing technical assistance and training on these
guidelines and standards
- enforcing accessibility standards for federally funded
on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) Part 4 Highway Traffic Signals
Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, or MUTCD defines the
standards used by road managers nationwide to install and maintain traffic
control devices on all streets and highways. The MUTCD is published by the
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) under 23 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR),
Part 655, Subpart F.
4, Section 4E.06 provides guidance, standards and support for the use of
Accessible Pedestrian Signals. Section 4E.07 provides guidance, standards and
support for the use of Pedestrian Detectors. Section 4E.08 provides guidance,
standards and support for the use of Accessible Pedestrian Signals Detectors.