top of page
What are Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialists (COMS)Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists (COMS) provide sequential instruction to individuals with visual impairment throughout the life span in these and many other areas. Adaptive Mobility Device Ascending and Descending Stairs Auditory Localization Accessible Pedestrian Signals Built Environment Compass Directions Detectable Warning Surfaces Depth Difference Environmental Analysis Environmental Literacy Execution of Routes Familiarization to Environments Human Guide Intersection Analysis Laterality Locating dropped objects Long Cane Skills Route Planning Scanning Skills Search patterns Sensory Awareness Spatial Skills Surface Changes Tracking Skills Traffic Patterns Problem Solving Upper and Lower Protective Techniques
What are the impacts of shared streets or curbless streets for people with visual impairments?Shared Streets - Janet Barlow and JoAnne Chalom May 2019 Shared Streets are streets where the entire area between buildings is level, signs and markings are minimal, and drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists are supposed to ‘share’ the space. They are intended to be safer for all users and provide more space for pedestrians and bicyclists, expand accessible workspace, provide more space for amenities, encourage economic development, and provide a flexible public space. Curbless streets are a variation on shared streets and are designed to provide flexible and accessible space for festivals, farmers markets, and other activities, during which time the street is closed to vehicular traffic. Curbless streets are not intended to enable pedestrians to comfortably mix with moving vehicles in the same space.
Why are Accessible Pedestrian signals needed when Leading Pedestrian Intervals or Exclusive Pedestrian Phases are Installed?Need for Accessible Pedestrian Signals when Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPIs) and Exclusive Pedestrian Phases are installed New signal timing strategies that are intended to help pedestrians and improve walkability may have a negative and dangerous effect for pedestrians who are blind, who have low vision, or who are deafblind, if accessible pedestrian signals are not installed. Some of the most popular, installed in many cities in recent months are: Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPIs)-an LPI provides the pedestrian walk signal before motorists can proceed, giving the pedestrian several seconds (usually 3 to 6 seconds) to start crossing in the crosswalk before the green signal is provided to vehicles. Exclusive Pedestrian Phase - Where there is an exclusive pedestrian phase, all vehicular traffic has a red signal during the pedestrian phase (walk and flashing don’t walk). Pedestrians have a ‘don’t walk’ signal when any vehicles have a green signal. Intersections with exclusive pedestrian phases often include the option for pedestrians to walk diagonally across the intersection. Barnes Dance or Scramble are variations of exclusive pedestrian phases. A pedestrian scramble, or Barnes Dance, is an exclusive pedestrian interval that stops all vehicular movement to allow pedestrians access to cross in any direction at the intersection, including diagonally. During a Barnes Dance, pedestrians can cross at all four crosswalks; during a pedestrian or signal scramble, pedestrians are encouraged to cross the intersections diagonally as well. Traditionally pedestrians with visual impairments have been taught to begin crossing with parallel vehicular traffic movement closest to their crosswalk (near lane parallel traffic). These signal strategies separate the beginning of the pedestrian phase from the surge of near lane parallel traffic. What are the risks (without APS)? When there is a LPI, the pedestrian who is blind or who has low vision may enter the crosswalk lane as the vehicles begin moving just when drivers’ expectation of pedestrian movement is reduced. If the signal timing is minimal, the pedestrian may still be in the street when the signal changes. Similar concerns arise when Exclusive Pedestrian Phasing is used. A blind pedestrian will typically traverse an intersection with the parallel surge of traffic, not during the exclusive pedestrian phase. Drivers would not anticipate that a pedestrian would begin crossing during a vehicular phase. The installation of Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) whenever an LPI or exclusive pedestrian phase is installed can provide the benefit of this new signal timing strategy while mitigating risks to pedestrians who have visual impairments. If your city,county or municipality is considering installing Leading Pedestrian Intervals at signalized crossings,In Focus Mobility, is here to help you create built environments that are born accessible for all vulnerable users.
What are the challenges of shared spaces for people with visual impairments?The main challenge is the assumption that users crossing or traveling in the shared street will “negotiate” with other users through eye contact. Without treatments the pedestrian who is blind or who has low vision may enter a vehicular zone or shared street and not be able to determine traffic patterns because the traffic patterns are random. Various surfaces, some not detectable under foot or with a cane, have been used to delineate the pedestrian zone from multi-use zones where pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicular traffic travel in unison. Although there are requirements for shared spaces to be usable by all, there are no specific guidelines or requirements in the Americans with Disabilities Act that address some of the issues in the shared street environment. As a result of questions and concerns about shared streets and their impact on pedestrians who are blind or who have low vision, the Federal Highway Administration funded a project to develop recommendations for cities when installing shared streets. A comprehensive report, Accessible Shared Streets: Notable Practices and Considerations for Accommodating Pedestrians with Vision Disabilities,( https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/publications/accessible_shared_streets/) was authored by Elliott, J; Lohse, K; Toole, J; Lockwood, I; Barlow, J; Bentzen, B; Porter, C. and is available free. Some of the key takeaways include: Shared streets need to be recognizable Need different types of what are called Tactile Walking Surface Indicators Detectable Warning Surfaces (truncated domes) need to be installed at corners and crossings Directional Indicators may be helpful along a pathway and need to be detectable (report includes information on what profile is needed for detectability) Detectable changes in surface texture and color should be provided Pedestrian paths along buildings (called comfort zones) need to be clear from obstructions Transitions from pedestrian only areas to shared zones and from shared streets to conventional vehicular intersections need some kind of treatment There should be obvious (to drivers) traffic calming measures and gateway Treatment. If your city,county or municipality is considering designing a space to become a shared street,, In Focus Mobility, is here to help you create environments that are born accessible for all vulnerable users. References Elliott, J., Lohse, K., Toole, J., Lockwood, I., Barlow, J., Bentzen, B., & Porter, C. (2017) Accessible Shared Streets: Notable Practices and Considerations for Accommodating Pedestrians with Vision Disabilities, Washington, D.C.: Federal Highway Administration. FHWA-HEP-17-096
bottom of page