Benefits

The proposed guidelines will benefit pedestrians with disabilities. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 54.4 million Americans, about one in five U.S. residents, reported some level of disability in 2005.39 The number of individuals with disabilities is almost equal to the combined total population of California and Florida. The U.S. Census Bureau provides this breakdown of the population of people aged 15 and older:

  • 27.4 million (11.9 percent) had difficulty with ambulatory activities of the lower body;
  • 22.6 million people (9.8 percent) had difficulty walking a quarter of a mile;
  • 21.8 million (9.4 percent) had difficulty climbing a flight of stairs;
  • 10.2 million (4.4 percent) used a cane, crutches, or walker to assist with mobility;
  • 3.3 million (1.4 percent) used a wheelchair or other wheeled mobility device; and
  • 7.8 million (3 percent) had difficulty seeing words or letters in ordinary newspaper print, including 1.8 million who are completely unable to see.

Executive Order 13563 states that to the extent permitted by law federal agencies must "propose or adopt a regulation only upon a reasoned determination that its benefits justify its costs (recognizing that some benefits and costs are difficult to quantify)" and that "where appropriate and permitted by law, each agency may consider and (discuss qualitatively) values that are difficult or impossible to quantify, including equity, human dignity, fairness, and distributive impacts." The proposed guidelines promote important societal values that are difficult or impossible to quantify. As discussed above under the Need for Rulemaking, when enacting the Americans with Disabilities Act, Congress found "the discriminatory effects of architectural, transportation, and communication barriers" to be a continuing problem that "denies people with disabilities the opportunity to compete on an equal basis and to pursue those opportunities for which our free society is justifiably famous, and costs the United States billions of dollars in unnecessary expenses resulting from dependency and nonproductivity." 42 U.S.C. 12101 (a) (5) and (9). Congress declared that "the Nation's proper goals regarding individuals with disabilities are to assure equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency." 42 U.S.C. 12101 (a) (8). The proposed guidelines promote the goals declared by Congress by eliminating the discriminatory effects of architectural, transportation, and communication barriers in the design and construction of pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way. The proposed guidelines are also important to achieving the benefits of the other parts of the Americans with Disabilities Act. As the House Report for the Americans with Disabilities Act stated, "[t]he employment, transportation, and public accommodation sections . . . would be meaningless if people who use wheelchairs were not afforded the opportunity to travel on and between the streets." H.R. 485, 101st Cong., 2d Sess. 84 (1990).