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  • JoAnne Chalom

Bumps in the Road

Updated: Jun 22


Everyone experiences bumps in the road, as an entrepreneur, orientation and mobility specialist, consultant, and advocate those bumps in the road are often tangible.

Imagine if those obstacles were physical barriers to being able to access the built environment. Think about the challenges of crossing the street if your ability to identify different levels was limited (depth of perception). Would you confidently use public transportation if you could not tell where the subway platform ended, and the rail begins?

In Focus Mobility has opportunities to work with individuals with visual impairments. Some are young, some are older, all have unique challenges accessing the built environment. Knowing where the sidewalk ends and the road begins are critical to vulnerable road users, especially people with visual impairments.


Fortunately, the Americans with Disabilities Act, specifically section 705 requires that detectable warning surfaces be installed in specific places in the built environment. Detectable Warning Surfaces (dws) or truncated domes are can be those safety yellow, black, or brick red mats with bumps or half domes located near the curb cut or ramp of sidewalks. They are also located near railroad tracks; platform boarding edges and drop offs at edges of transit stations and stops.


They are a warning system or stop sign on your feet for people with low vision or total blindness. It is way for people with visual impairments to know they are about to walk into a road or transition into a different area with a drop off, an area that has a different level than the current one.


Ten Things to know about Detectable Warning Surfaces

  1. The requirements for detectable warning surface are detailed in Section 705 of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

  2. It is required at all rail stations, platform boarding edges that are not protected by platform screens or guards.

  3. It must contrast visually with adjacent walking surfaces either light-on-dark or dark-on-light.

  4. Some states like Florida, have adopted their own specific regulations and requirements in regard to color contrast.

  5. The Florida Department of Transportation Standard Specifications for Road and Bridge Constructions lists specific standards for detectable warning surfaces and what terrains have which permissible colors

  6. Warning yellow, red, or black are the permissible options in Florida.

  7. Black detectable warning surfaces cannot be installed on asphalt which is typically black.

  8. Detectable warnings must be 24 inches wide along the full length of the public use area of the platform.

  9. Detectable warning surfaces are required by both the Department of Justice and Department of Transportation Americans with Disabilities Standards and by the Architectural Barrier Act Standards

  10. More information is available at https://www.ada.gov/2010ADAstandards_index.htm

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