UNITED STATES ACCESS BOARD
TRANSCRIPT OF MEETING
October 8, 2002
MR. LEWIS: Good morning to all of you. My name is Carl Lewis. I'm the vice chair of the Access Board, and on behalf of the Access Board, I would like to welcome each of you to today's public meeting on the board's draft guidelines for accessible public rights-of-way.
Generally, our public commentary period comes at the end of NPR, notice of proposed rule-making stage. But in an attempt to be more inclusive and hear more voices, we thought it would be more appropriate for public comments at the draft stage. Also, you may take note that today's proceedings will be broadcast on the radio station KOPB, one of the local public broadcasting networks.
Allow me to give you a little bit of history. The Access Board is a federal agency charged with developing guidelines and standards for accessible buildings, facilities, transportation vehicles, telecommunications, and electronic and information technology under several laws, certainly including the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
I think it is particularly fitting the Access Board is holding this meeting in Portland. Certainly the City has shown a real commitment to accessibility on sidewalks, street crossings, and related public facilities in its public transportation system.
On Wednesday and Thursday of this week, the Board will be touring several facilities in the Portland area as pedestrians and on transit to enhance our understanding of a broad range of issues we need to address as we continue to develop accessibility guidelines for public right-of-ways. On June 17, 2002, the Board published draft guidelines for access to public rights-of-way, and also published them on their website for public review and comment.
These draft guidelines originated from a set of recommendations proposed by the advisory committee comprised of representatives from disability organizations, public works departments, transportation and traffic engineering groups, design professionals, and civil engineers, federal agencies, and standard-setting bodies. Several members of that original committee are here today. And I would like to thank them for their hard work, especially Jerry Marcisino of the City of Portland, who served as a chairman of the advisory committee.
If all of you are in attendance, if you could stand, or let us know that you're here. I'd like to thank all of you.
MR. LEWIS: And Jerry Marcisino, thank you.
As you know, the draft guidelines at issue today cover pedestrian access to sidewalks and streets, including crosswalks, curb ramps, street furnishings, parking, and other components of public rights-of-way. These new provisions would supplement the Board's ADA and ABA accessibility guidelines by adding a new chapter specific to public rights-of-way. While the Access Board's current guidelines include certain features common to public sidewalks, such as curb ramps, further guidance is necessary to address conditions unique to public rights-of-way.
Immediately following this afternoon's session, at 4:00 p.m. the Board will host a reception here in this room. I encourage each of you to stay, and we'll individually continue the dialogue and discuss the access issues at hand. I'm certain that we can all -- we can all learn a great deal from each other.
I'd like now to introduce my colleagues on the Board. I'm going to ask -- ask them to introduce themselves and we'll start here down at the end and continue through. J.R.?
MR. HARDING: Thank you, Carl. James Harding, public member from Florida.
MR. GUTHRIE: Marc Guthrie, public member, Columbus, Ohio.
MR. CANNON: Pat Cannon, public member from Lansing, Michigan.
MS. GOLDEN: Marilyn Golden, public member from Oakland, California.
MS. TUCK: Jan Tuck, public member from Los Angeles, California.
MR. SCHOONOVER: I'm Ken Schoonover, public member from Lansing, Illinois.
MS. PORTER: Marilyn Porter, public member from Little Rock, Arkansas.
MR. THESING: Rich Thesing, public member, Palo Alto, California.
MR. LEWIS: Of course, again, my name is Carl Lewis. I'm from Illinois. In my real life, I'm an architect and professor of architecture.
I have the distinct honor now to introduce Mr. Bruce Warner. He's the director of the Oregon Department of Transportation. Mr. Warner manages a rather large transportation agency with approximately 5,000 employees and a biennial operating budget of $1.7 million. During his time as director, Bruce Warner served as a member of the governor's transportation coordination initiative policy committee. The committee is comprised of state agency directors and was formed to better coordinate the financial resources to transportation services providers throughout the state. It is my understanding that Mr. Warner will soon be taking on a new leadership role in this initiative and is excited by working with local governments across the state to maximize state dollars for transportation services.
Prior to assuming his current position, Mr. Warner was the chief operating officer of Metro, which serves the regional government of the tricounty area in Portland. He was also the regional manager for Oregon Department of Transportation here in Portland for several years.
Finally, I note that Mr. Warner has a degree in civil engineering, making him uniquely qualified to understand many of the rights-of-way issues which will be discussed today. Mr. Warner, we're delighted that you were able to join us this morning to give us a few words of welcoming. (Applause.)
MR. WARNER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'll stand right here, if that's okay.
Again, I would also like to also welcome the Access Board and all the people who have come to testify today to the state of Oregon, if you've not been here, and to the City of Roses. I think this is a great location for your conference.
I'm going to turn this off. Why don't we try this. Can you folks hear me now? Good. Thank you.
As a transportation professional, I want to first off acknowledge and thank all of you for your hard work and dedication to make public sidewalks, street crossings, and pedestrian facilities accessible to all. I think it's a very much needed effort, and accommodation to all users is an important goal.
I think you heard a little bit about my background. I am an engineer. I was a city engineer for a number of years. I was also a building official for a number of years, so I understand the issues of building design. And I have had the pleasure of working on a number of the major and visible public works facilities, which I think many of you are going to see in the next couple of days, that we're quite proud of here in the Portland metropolitan area.
And in all of those efforts, in all those positions, accessibility has always been one of my issues and concerns. And I want to let everybody know in the audience, that I, as the director of the Oregon Department of Transportation, take accessibility seriously and also personally, as I'll tell you just quickly here in a moment.
And I also know that it's not easy to do things correctly. And I'll let you know an example. About 20 years ago, when I was a city engineer for the city of Hillsboro, I thought that I was providing great accessibility on our local subdivision and major new streets we were building in the city of Hillsboro. I made sure that we had sidewalks on both sides of all the streets we built, made sure we had ramps at every intersection to provide accessibility to those walkways.
And being the efficient, effective engineer that I thought I was, I provided a design that said, let's put the sidewalks immediately adjacent to the curb, eliminating some of the landscaping and other maintenance issues that has often become problematic for cities and property owners. And I believed this was a great design.
Then I met an elderly couple who took the time to share with me some of their concerns about my designs. And when I met them -- this is the important thing -- the wife was in a wheelchair and the husband was using a walker and also couldn't see very well, and they were in the street, in front of my house walking down the street. So of course I asked them why they were in the street rather than on the sidewalks, and they took the time to show me and tell me why they were.
We went on a little field trip in my neighborhood, and they educated me greatly. Why did they walk in the street? I bet you most everybody here in the audience understands why that is, but I didn't understand that every time that this lady would try to navigate down the sidewalk, about every 80 feet she'd hit one of the driveway aprons where the curb line at the street was lowered and in back of the sidewalk there was a pretty steep -- steep incline, and she could not keep her wheelchair going straight. So she'd always end up in the street.
In addition to that, they also showed me that all of the furniture -- the post boxes and the mailboxes -- that we'd mounted immediately adjacent to the curb took up about half of the curb or half of the sidewalk, walkway area for them. So they were unable to actually utilize it. So it was better and easier for them to walk in the street.
Needless to say, their little field trip showed me a lot, and it stuck with me to this date that we need to make sure that we're looking at our designs from the perspective of the user. And obviously I changed my designs considerably. And I think I learned more in that 45 minutes than I did in hours in a classroom or looking over various designs.
So, again, that's the personal side of this. The other thing is, I do have a good friend that I got to know who was injured in an automobile accident about 25 years ago, and as a paraplegic, we've had a number of discussions about accessibility to our public streets and personal mobility and the use of the handicapped placard that we have and parking place enforcement. So I do take all of this stuff very, very seriously.
When you look at the state, I believe Oregon is a leader in providing pedestrian environment that people of all abilities can utilize. I applaud you for coming out here to look at some of those things. I also know we can learn from you and we can do things better if we have your advice and involvement.
One of the projects that I'm very proud of is the light rail system here in the Portland metro area. And I was involved in the decisions that decided to go to a low-floor car technology and to retrofit all of the existing at that time transit stops to provide low-floor accessibility for everybody throughout the entire system. I think you'll find out that it was a good decision and it works very, very well. But as I said, I think there's still things that we can do better.
My staff has informed me -- and I won't get into comments on your guidelines, but I have had the opportunity to glance at them a bit and also know that my association of department directors from around the United States, AASHTO, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, is looking very seriously at these and will hopefully be providing useful comments. I actually have in front of me -- this is actually the comments from the various committees that looked at that.
So I think there will be good comments and suggestions, and hopefully you will consider some of those. My staff will also be providing input, electronically, as we suggested.
But I think your draft guidelines, I believe, are very aggressive and provocative. I think they're going to provide a very good discussion point for a number of folks to deal with the issues in terms of public accessibility in our public rights-of-way and transportation projects. And I expect to be taking up these AASHTO considerations at our annual meeting in Alaska, which starts in just a couple days. So we will undoubtedly be talking about that.
While I'm here, though, I would like to share a couple of the issues that you'll be hearing from a number of folks. And the guidelines as currently drafted really don't allow a lot of flexibility in the implementation, and they're really expressed in absolute terms. So some of the things I think you're going to need to look at, is making it clear for myself and others throughout the United States some of things where there is flexibility and some of the things where there is not.
Some of the things that we're concerned about, things like, for example, signalizing all roundabouts. You're going to hear about roundabouts and why people like roundabouts is because there is no signals. So completely taking away the idea of a roundabout. So I think we need to think about how we're going to provide accessibility in those areas.
Signalizing all slip lines. The word is "all." I think we need to be careful there. Accessible pedestrian signals at all signal locations in the state, rural and urban. We need to have some dialogue about those. Reducing the standard pedestrian crossing speeds to three feet per second, and I think there's areas where that may be very appropriate and there's areas where you may not want that.
Also, things like elevators, where you have words like "required wherever a grade crossing or change exceeds five feet." In Portland, I think when you look around with the rivers and things that you see here in Portland, you're going to see every urban crossing we have in this city would require that. If that was the intent, I guess we need to know that, and I think there'll be some dialogue about that.
My staff will elaborate further on some of these issues as concerns, and I believe AASHTO will probably be bringing those forward after our annual meeting in Alaska. But I do believe that there is general agreement with most of the guidelines. They will improve the way we do business and help us create a walking environment accessible to all, thus improving I think the quality of life for all of us.
The one area in which the Oregon Department of Transportation could use some clarity is helping determine how strictly we need to apply these standards when retrofitting existing roads. I think you have words like "altered" in your guidelines, and I think we would like some clarity in terms of what that means, because in Oregon, at least, we have folks that really believe we ought to focus on maintaining and preserving the highway and road system we have now, which is our priority, and we're not building a whole bunch of new roads. So the idea in terms of alteration and where these improvement triggers actually become is very, very interesting for us.
And I know that the tour on Thursday afternoon you're going to do will help us move some of these notions you're talking about into the concrete. And no pun intended there.
MR. WARNER: But I think this tour will showcase some of the typical urban highway renovation projects, like Sandy Boulevard. And Eric Bosgard, who was one of our staff, and Darlene Rose, our regional pedestrian-bicycle coordinator, will show you how your guidelines interact with some unique challenges we have in trying to retrofit and improve some existing facilities in an urban area that's already developed.
This project you're going to see on Sandy Boulevard is a great example of the outstanding work that our crews did to bring the sidewalks into compliance while facing right-of-way terrain and construction practice constraints.
I want to again thank you for the opportunity to address the Access Board today. I wish you a productive meeting and an enjoyable stay in the state of Oregon and the Portland area, and I really do hope that you take advantage of some of the wonderful walking opportunities that Portland has to offer, and I know you'll enjoy it. So, again, good morning and, again, thank you for being here.
MR. LEWIS: Mr. Warner, thank you so much. We really appreciate you taking time to come down this morning in your busy schedule to address us. Again, thank you so much again.
Before I hand over the microphone to my friend and Board colleague, Pat Cannon, who has been extensively involved with these draft guidelines, I'd like to again offer a word of thanks to those of you attending today, especially those of you who will be speaking.
I know many of you have traveled a long distance to give the Board your input, and you took the time to prepare your remarks and carefully consider the complex issues surrounding access to public rights-of-way. Your input is essential to our developmental requirements to ensure that the built environment serves the needs of all of us.
Now I would like to introduce my fellow Board member, Pat Cannon, the executive director from the Commission for the Blind.
MR. CANNON: Thank you, Carl, and good morning, everybody. Good morning, everybody.
AUDIENCE: Good morning.
MR. CANNON: A lot of folks here. We appreciate the great turnout here in Portland this morning to hear what you have to say about public rights-of-way. And when Mr. Warner was talking about what he learned from the people in his neighborhood about the access issues they faced, reminds me of a wise person who once said seek first to understand and then to be understood.
With that in mind, that's really why we are here today: to hear what each of you who are here to make comment have to say about our draft text of the public rights-of-way issue. We look forward to what you have to say. That's why we're here, to hear what you have to say and listen to your issues that you raise.
I really have to commend the work of our Public Rights-of-Way Access Advisory Committee. And the Public Rights-of-Way Access Advisory Committee is made up of many, many stakeholders. It's been a great working group of stakeholders from the transportation community, the disability community, state and local government officials, pedestrian advocates, and many other organizations as well.
And shortly you'll be hearing Lois Thibault, who is going to give you a list of all of the organizations represented on the Public Rights-of-Way Access Advisory Committee.
Many of you in the room today were on hand a little over 12 years ago when President Bush, George Herbert Walker Bush, signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act on July 26th of 1990. And I was privileged to be with you on that day, and I still can recall and often recall very vividly his words as he set his pen to the page. He said, "May the shameful walls of exclusion come tumbling down."
Then the president went on to explain that at the heart of the ADA is the purpose of people with disabilities being integrated into all aspects of our society. And we think that's really what the Access Board has attempted to do with its role in the ADA, and as you know, by statute, the United States Access Board has the responsibility of developing what are called the accessibility guidelines for the ADA, or sometimes affectionately referred to as ADAAG.
And you might be interested in knowing that the public rights-of-way section of ADAAG really is probably the last key component of the ADA that we are attempting to write some guidelines on, and that's why we're here today. Back in the mid-'90s, it was part of an interim federal rule, I think section at that time, that was later -- that section was reserved in 1998. And shortly Lois Thibault and Scott Windley will be going through a little overview of how we got to where we are, and we will be hearing some of that history.
But I really want to thank the access advisory committee for their work and particularly tip our hat to Jerry Marcisino. Jerry is the chair of our Board, and Portland can be very proud of the work that Jerry Marcisino did and another member, Ellen Vanderslice, and that work is exemplary in the Portland area. They'll also help us over the next couple of days in conducting some of the tours of the facilities as we look at some of the access provisions that Portland has to offer.
Jerry's leadership really has been outstanding as the chair, and I want to thank Jerry for your steady hand and your technical mastery of the subject of public rights-of-way, his advocacy for transportation and his ability to foster collegiality for everyone in the group. It really has been terrific working with Jerry.
I want to thank, too, the City of Portland for its support of Jerry and also its support of accessibility in general. They clearly have been taking action to deal with accessible pedestrian rights-of-way and so forth. They have worked to provide access for Portland citizens. They have embraced accessible sidewalks, street crossings, and related pedestrian facilities, and they continue that work today. They have pioneered testing of detectable warnings; also accessible pedestrian signals, and other features of accessible design. In fact, few highway departments have so mastered the art of accessible geometric design as has the City of Portland, and we commend their Department of Transportation for that work and thank them, too, for providing so much time for Jerry Marcisino to work with us in our effort in the time to chair the public rights-of-way advisory committee, also given him time to speak widely on our work and to continue on with the committee and our development of a technical assistance document that we plan to publish next year.
Also want you to know, if you don't know already, that Portland is the home of America Walks. It's a national pedestrian advocacy organization whose executive director, Ellen Vanderslice, served as the editorial chair for the report of the Public Rights-of-Way Access Advisory Committee. And that report and its recommendations are really the basis for the design of the text draft that you have before you today.
Ellen's advocacy for accessibility continues as America Walks prepares its comments on the reauthorization of T-21. That's the omnibus transportation bill. Ellen has been a joy to work with these last few years, and it's hard to believe it's been three years now since the public access advisory committee began, and Ellen has been helpful and lightened the load a little when some tensions had arisen. And Ellen is quite an entertainer as well.
I want to thank all the many, many terrific individuals on the Public Rights-of-Way Access Advisory Committee, and they have really laid the groundwork for making it possible for persons to travel independently and find accessibility in all pedestrian crossings, whether it is the possibility of detectable warnings, marking the streets, or accessible pedestrian signals. We really have learned more and more about the potentials and the opportunities that might be presented to us.
I want to again emphasize our role here today is to listen to what you have to say. As you heard Carl mention earlier, usually when we have a public hearing, it is when we are at the point of a notice of proposed rule making, when we're really about to put a final rule into place. Today's gathering is far in advance of that.
As you know, from the Public Rights-of-Way Access Advisory Committee, we took their recommendations and have been working with them and others in the Access Board. We have a draft text. We wanted to be as inclusive as possible, which is why we're here today to hear what you have to say. Again, I'll emphasize the notion of seek first to understand and then be understood. In a couple of moments we'll be hearing an overview from Lois and Scott about the draft text. Following that, we'll be looking for your comments. Many of you have registered in advance, and we'll be looking forward to that. As your names are called, we'll ask you to step forward and sort of take a place in the on-deck circle so we can keep people moving along. I think there are two on-deck circles. With that let me turn it over to Lois Thibault and Scott Windley.
MS. THIBAULT: Thanks, Pat. I think we're going to try to truncate our program a little bit since we've gotten off to such a late start and we have quite a number of commenters scheduled to start very soon. Scott, do you want to fire up the screen? And we'll give you a quick overview of the history of this rule making. And then I would ask those of you that we're going to call to the podium to offer comment, if you could possibly truncate your comments, save a minute or two on each of them, so that we can cut back with our schedule.
We will be taking public comment until 11:30, at which time then we have an open microphone for which we have a number of commenters registered. We may, in fact, have more registered than we have time to accommodate. So we may ask some of you to wait until tomorrow -- until this afternoon to finish the open-mike comment period.
As Pat has outlined and others, this public rights-of-way accessibility guidelines for which we're taking comment on the draft guidelines has a long history. Curb ramps were first mentioned in the standards under the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968, which governs design and construction of federal facilities, included in the standards of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and of course the coverage was considerably expanded under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
There are two major standards under those three statutes: the uniform federal accessibility standard, which many state and local governments have grown used to applying to particularly sidewalks and street construction, because they're very often constructed with federal assistance; and then after 1991, the ADA accessibility guidelines, or ADAAG. But both UFAS and ADAAG were developed to apply to buildings and facilities. And while there are some provisions that cover work on sites, it had become difficult for engineers and designers of work in the public right-of-way to apply the provisions in ADAAG or UFAS to the particular constraints of the public right-of-way, where you would encounter slopes that might exceed allowable limits, narrow widths for sidewalks, and other complicating features.
In 1992, the Board, having finished its development of the basic ADAAG, turned its attention to developing standards for state and local governments. We included in that work the development of -- or the initial development of proposed guidelines for public rights-of-way, which were published in 1992.
Following 1992, we had the first proposed rule for state and local government facilities: section 11, judicial facilities; 12, detention facilities; section 13, residential facilities; and section 14, which included consideration of public rights-of-way.
In 1994, an interim final rule was published for those four sections. In 1998, we went on to issue a final rule, guidelines for state and local government facilities. And in that rule making, section 13, residential facilities and section 14 were reserved pending further action by the Board. We spent much of the next few years on technical assistance and outreach, particularly to the highway engineering community. We produced a number of documents, including a videotape on accessible sidewalks, a synthesis on accessible pedestrian signals, a synthesis on detectable warnings, and an overall combined manual. In addition, the committee attended many, many industry meetings to present accessible design issues.
In 1999, the Board determined that our efforts in technical assistance and public outreach had ripened to the point where we could appoint an access advisory committee so we could start up the process of rule making on public rights-of-way again. And the committee, which had 33 members, represented -- here's a photo of the committee at its presentation at the transportation research board meeting in 2001.
When they presented the recommendations that have eventually formed the basis of the work we're talking about today, stakeholders included industry, disability organizations, state and local governments, and pedestrian organizations -- and this seems like an appropriate time to ask those of you, starting over here on the right side of the room with Jerry Marcisino, to please identify yourself and the organization that you represent for those of you who are here as members of the rights-of-way -- public rights-of-way access committee.
Is Jerry still over there? He's gone. He stepped out, okay. Let's start on this side of the room. Who's here from the advisory committee? Elizabeth, Mike, can you all stand up and just identify your organization. (Introductions inaudible.)
MS. THIBAULT: Others on the advisory committee included the American Public Transportation Association; the State of Alaska; the American Council of the Blind; TASH; the National Council on Independent Living; the Canadian Standards Association; the National Federation of the Blind; the Disabilities Rights Education and Expense Fund; the Disabilities and Business Technical Assistance Center; Californians for Disability Rights; the American Association for Retired Persons; the municipality of Anchorage, Alaska; Paralyzed Veterans of Alaska; the Hawaii State Department of Transportation; the New York State Department of Transportation; the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board; the San Francisco Mayor's Office on Disability, the Council of Citizens With Low Vision International; and Ken Stewart is in fact here, and I apologize; Ellen Vanderslice of America Walks, whose name has been mentioned before; and the National Center for Bicycling and Walking.
I think the rest of you have identified yourself. And Jerry Marcisino in the door, representing the City of Portland. Jerry, we're just identifying the members of the rights-of-way committee who are here today.
As I said, in January of 2001, the committee -- we call it PROWAAC, because it has such a large and unwieldy name otherwise -- published their report, Building a True Community, and delivered it to the Board and transportation engineers from across the country at the Transportation Research Board meeting in January of 2001.
In June of 2002, the Access Board, working as staff and in an ad hoc committee, using the committee's report as a basis, published a draft public rights-of-way guidelines for public comment, intending to issue a preliminary document for public input for development of a notice, a formal notice of proposed rule making.
I note that the comment period for this draft of the guidelines will end on October 28th. For those of you who wish to provide comment other than in person today, and we will accept comment in writing electronically -- excuse me. Scott? Oh, yes. The last slide will give instructions on how to do that.
Soon a subcommittee of the public rights-of-way advisory committee will be issuing technical assistance on applying the proposed guidelines to altered facilities, which I noted was one of the requests from the Oregon Department of Transportation, that we issue some guidance, and that project is underway by members of the committee who stayed on to help us out with this document.
The next steps will be to review these public comments and written electronic comments that are submitted to us to develop a proposed rule. And once we have the proposed rule from that, to develop a regulatory assessment, which looks at the costs and benefits of the proposed rule, to submit that proposed rule and regulatory assessment to the office of management and budget for their review, and eventually then to publish the proposed rule for official public comment, as a notice of proposed rule making.
Once again, then, the public comment period will be opened on the proposed rule, and we will eventually develop a final rule and a regulatory assessment. Once again, the office of management and budget will look at the documents that we develop, and we will publish a final rule with their approval.
So you can see that there are still many steps to the development of a final rule that then can be used as the basis of the development of standards for public rights-of-way under Title II. And there will be many opportunities for public input and comment.
The rule making process is a two-step one. I often say that the Access Board proposes, but the Department of Justice disposes. And there are other rule-making agencies which also will take action on the final guidelines that we develop in order to make them effective as enforceable standards. Both the department of justice and the Department of Transportation, who are members of our Board and whose representatives are here today, have authority in those areas; DOD, GSA, HUD, and the postal service under the Architectural Barriers Act.
The draft guidelines that are the subject of comment today have two major parts: a scoping section, which indicates under what conditions, how many, and when a particular feature may be necessary; and technical provisions that talk about how that particular feature would be accessible.
So you have a scoping requirement that tells you how many and a technical requirement that tells you what accessibility is. Also in the published document, which is posted on our website and is available in other formats, including a handout today, includes a discussion of the issues raised by the draft document and even some questions directed to readers for which we are seeking specific public guidance. On the overhead is the website for the Access Board. Sorry. Go ahead, Scott.
MR. WINDLEY: Say what it is.
MS. THIBAULT: Oh, www.access-board.gov. G-O-V.
The draft guidelines include a table of contents that describes the application of the guidelines, the scoping requirements, the pedestrian access route, which is essentially the accessible portion of a sidewalk or a street crossing, curb ramps, and blended transitions, pedestrian crossings, accessible pedestrian signal systems, street furniture, detectable warning surfaces, on-street parking, call boxes, and alternate circulation paths intended for application in temporary situations over periods of construction.
I think that the Secretary of the Department of Transportation and the Access Board agree almost precisely on the key provisions that we bring to the public's attention in these guidelines: accessibility of roundabouts to users, particularly those who have vision impairments. As you know a roundabout is a no-stop crossing where very often the sound of circulating traffic masks the cues that many pedestrians use to identify when a safe gap occurs.
Some more pictures of -- this happens to be a roundabout in Towson, Maryland. The roundabout on the left shows a member of our staff waiting to make a crossing and a car in the crosswalk and a member of the advisory committee on the right, who is also a guide dog user, also waiting for traffic to yield.
This illustration shows the location of a crossing at a roundabout relative to the path of travel. There's not a traditional perpendicular relationship between the location of the crossings and the path of travel, and so the identification of where the crossings are needs further emphasis.
Here are three versions of accessible pedestrian signals. One is Swedish, on the left. There's an Australian model, and one manufactured in California. We'll have some more information on those in a short presentation later this afternoon.
All of these feature the current, modern technology which uses a locator sound, a soft tick, and a very low-volume click or an electronic sound to indicate the onset of the walk cycle as opposed to some of the beeping systems that may be more familiar to users. There are some voice applications as well.
Other issues, detectable warnings. The photo on the left shows a new detectable warning installation here in Portland. And the one on the right, a detectable warning installation in a suburb of Baltimore.
Walking speed is an issue for many pedestrians with disabilities. There are of course a number of ways to address this. This is one of the areas where the Board seeks input. This is a pedestrian at a median in downtown Washington, DC. A pedestrian is using a walker.
Temporary construction is an issue for all of us. On the left, a slide from Washington, DC, showing the inaccessible conditions often found when construction is underway on a public sidewalk. On the right, an example near Access Board offices. Interestingly, the crossing for pedestrians for the curb does not have a ramp, and I don't know if you can see that there's a temporary blacktop ramp for vehicles using the construction site.
MS. THIBAULT: Temporary routes during construction, again, a shot from a suburban Baltimore neighborhood where a construction site is rather inadequately protected with cones and tape. And a very good installation from San Francisco, where there's both an edge to follow along the construction excavation and a barrier at rail height.
Key provisions also include adequate width for sidewalk passage. We have proposed a 48-inch minimum for the pedestrian access route for one-way travel along a public sidewalk route. This is actually our staff's favorite slide. Why everyone stands on a curb ramp we will never understand, but here we've got at least six people lined up to cross a huge intersection, and everyone is standing on the curb ramp.
Other issues that I hope we'll hear some discussion of today, on-street parking, which is new coverage for this document. On the left, from Rockville, Maryland, two accessible parking spaces on the street. On the right, accessible parking in an alteration situation, where facilities -- where the spaces have been marked and signed without the provision of an access aisle. And here's the usual condition one finds in inaccessible on-street parking. Overpasses and underpasses, we're all familiar with the extensive ramping that one often sees when crossing an arterial or a route. Where a surface crossing isn't possible, the Board has proposed that elevators be required in these locations where there's more than a five-foot change in elevation.
Here are the instructions I promised on how to send written comments to Scott Windley of the Access Board, who is here with us. Our mailing address: 1331 F Street NW, Washington, DC, 20004. Scott's email address is Windley -- W-I-N-D-L-E-Y -- @access-board.gov. Our fax number is 202-272-0081. All of this information is on our website, again, www.access-board.gov, in the published Federal Register announcement of the publication of the draft guidelines themselves.
Again, comments due by October 28th. Please include your name and address if you're submitting oral or electronic comments. I see that it's about a quarter of 10:00. I think what we'd like to do now is launch right into the public comment period using a list of those who have registered to address the Board. Scott?
MR. LEWIS: Thank you very, very much. As you heard, for those who are registered in advance, we have an open mike until 11:30. For those not registered in advance, rest assured we will have an open mike session at 11:30, again at 2:30 this afternoon. We look forward to the comment. As I mentioned, we have a couple of on-deck circles to help people along quickly. Our first presenter is Mark Wales. Mark Wales, then Bruce Robinson, then Greg Kurahashi. We'll start with Mark Wales. Again, we'll limit the time to eight minutes, if possible.
MR. WALES: Thank you. My name is Mark Wales. I'm
here representing the American Institute of Architects. I appreciate this
opportunity to address the Board.
The American Institute of Architects was founded in 1857. It is a professional association for which more than 70,000 licensed architects and professionals -- associated professionals are headquartered in Washington, DC. We have more than 300 state and local chapters worldwide.
The AIA seeks to promote a more humane built environment through education, government advocacy, community development, and public outreach activities. As part of its commitment to make the built environment fully accessible for the safe, enjoyable use of everyone, the AIC supports the goal of these draft guidelines.
Comments: Accessible pathways to improve open environment.
The AIA park (inaudible) recognizes the value of developing a network of accessible pathways to and through the built environment, including those in the public rights-of-way, within a site and within buildings and facilities. Accessible pedestrian routes, approaches, and entrances are often important aspects of an architect's design of building or space. Development of a seamless pedestrian path is a goal.
Clarity and certainty: The AIA advocates clear and certain guidance to help ensure compliance of the ADA. Clearly written, concise guidelines will help ensure architects understand the requirements of ADAAG and, even more importantly, will provide them with a high degree of certainty that their designs meet its accessibility standards. The AIA urges the U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board to continue to strive for clarity and certainty in the ADAAG.
Curb ramps: The draft guidelines are consistent in their treatment the curb ramps. In particular, the draft is inconsistent in the way it handles the allowable slope for parallel --
MR. WALES: In particular, the draft is inconsistent in the way it handles the allowable slopes for parallel curb ramps and perpendicular curb ramps running parallel to street grades. The maximum length exception for parallel curb ramps does not apply to perpendicular curb ramps. When the direction of the street grade is parallel to the curb ramp, however, it should not matter which type of curb ramp is used. Both should be required to have the same maximum required distance. Otherwise, to stay within the maximum slope --
MR. WALES. Otherwise, to stay within the maximum slope requirements -- otherwise, to stay within the maximum slope requirements, the curb ramp would have to be extremely long.
Grade of pedestrian access routes: Draft guideline prohibit slopes on pedestrian access routes exceeding the grade established by the adjacent roadway. However, where parallel or perpendicular curb ramps are installed in line with the direction of the sidewalk travel, the curb ramp on the uphill side of the landing in midblock and the perpendicular curb ramp on the uphill side of an intersecting street will have to exceed the grade of the adjacent street. Exceeding the grade of the street is necessary to overcome the differences in elevation from the street to the top of the curb or sidewalk. Changes in level: The draft guidelines address the issue of changes in level in several places. The current ADAAG acknowledges the reality of changes in level, addresses how they should be accomplished, and provides a minimum acceptable standard for accessible floor and ground surfaces.
In contrast, the draft guidelines prohibit changes in level in most areas. The draft guidelines do not permit changes in level along accessible routes more often than every 30 inches. However, successive closely spaced, small vertical or beveled changes in level have not typically been used as a method to overcome large elevation changes.
The draft guidelines also prohibit changes in level to regulate the unevenness of the surface, although the Access Board has decided this is premature until measurable technical specifications are identified.
The discussion says: This would not rule out the use of bricks and other small pavers installed in a manner that provides a relatively flush surface and that are properly maintained. This assumption is inaccurate. Particularly in exterior applications, installing unit pavers without a changed level within a 30-inch zone would be almost impossible. The pavers would have to be installed with extreme precision and the joints would have to be routed exactly flush with the top of the pavers.
In addition, such materials and supporting substrates are subject to movement due to changes in temperature and washer content as well as inherent differences in the materials. It is unrealistic and unreasonable to expect that such a surface could be maintained in a perfectly smooth condition.
Vertical changes in level at curb ramps, blended transitions, landings, and gutter areas along pedestrian routes are also prohibited in the draft guidelines. This requirement would prohibit the use of any material whose texture had even the smallest groove or crack and would essentially eliminate the use of many materials.
Unit pavers, for example, could not be used because they would create a tremendous problem in trying to achieve and maintain perfect flatness. Even scored concrete would not be allowed under this requirement regardless of how narrow the score. Metal utility covers measuring less than 30 inches by 30 inches would also be prohibited.
Whereas the current ADAAG specifies minimum requirements, the draft guidelines by allowing no change in level and requiring perfectly flat surfaces up the ante considerably by moving to optimum requirements.
Pedestrian overpasses and underpasses: The requirement for pedestrian overpasses and underpasses in the draft guidelines are linked to the rise of the ramp approach -- ramp's approach. The vague terms used in the guidelines do not define the approach and do not appear to consider the distance over which the approach might span. There are no limitations on ramp rise and other areas of the built environment.
Elevators are expensive to install and maintain in such environments. Moreover, elevators in unsupervised public areas are subject to vandalism and may pose a security threat by providing hiding places for criminals. Given these problems, it is unlikely that pedestrian overpasses and underpasses will be built.
Conclusion: Accessibility in public rights-of-way is an important and highly complex subject. It is important that the impact of regulations be completely understood before development of a final rule. It is equally important that the requirements be written in clear, concise language in order to achieve the desired accessibility without misinterpretations and misunderstandings. The AIA will provide more written comments during the comment period.
Thank you for providing us with the opportunity to review and comment on this draft. Sorry I had to read that, but that's the only way I could do it quickly.
MR. GUTHRIE: Thank you, Mr. Wales. Thank you very much.
MR. ROBINSON: My name is Bruce Robinson,
representing Kittelson & Associates, 610 S.W. Alder Street, Suite 700, Portland,
Oregon 48 I'm here today to testify particularly about your proposed Section X
0215.9 on roundabouts and the subsections on separation. That's Section VIII and
subsection C on signals.
I'd like to begin by quoting the proposed text on signals: Pedestrian actuated traffic signal complying with Section X 02.5.2 shall be provided for each segment of the crosswalk, including at the splitter island. Signals shall clearly identify which crosswalk segment the signal serves. And then there's advisory.
If allowed by the MUTCD -- that's the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices -- the signal system may provide for permissible crossings without activating the signal and without violating a don't-walk pedestrian signal.
In addition, the accessible signal shown in the proposed ADAAG Section 703.7.2.1 may be displayed on the activation button to discourage use by pedestrians not needing the additional protection.
First of all, I'd like to just establish some credentials. I am the principal investigator of the FHWA publication roundabouts and informational guide. Also, the MPI on the NCHRP research project 3-65, applying roundabouts in the United States, and a team member on an NIDRR project with Western Michigan University called Way Finding Technologies for Visually Impaired Pedestrians.
So, over the past five years I've immersed myself in this topic of roundabouts, and I'm here today to state some concerns and provide some clarifications to the literature that is out there.
First of all, our literature review on both the aforementioned projects did not find any research that specifically addressed this concern for visually impaired pedestrians. Further, it found unanimous international consensus that roundabouts generally reduce injury and fatal crashes, typically in the range of 30 to 40 percent. And the reason for this is that if they are correctly designed, they result in a marked speed reduction and speed consistency between vehicles. The number of conflicts vehicularly induced compared to a cross-intersection and also the types of severe conflicts are removed, such as TT conflicts and head-on conflicts.
The only research that I'm aware of since this FHWA publication has been work by Western Michigan University that is looked into some of the issues to do with gap acceptance of visually impaired pedestrians, particularly on an exit to a roundabout where they are confused by the directionality of approaching vehicles from the circle.
I thought it would also be useful to provide some information about the applications of roundabouts in the U.S.A. We've been trying to track the number of roundabouts that have been built so far, and as of yesterday, I tried to extract the proportion of roundabouts that were previously controlled by a traffic signal, and that came to 13 percent of currently existing or planned roundabouts.
Further, 11 percent were previously controlled by an all-way stop control. Both of these could be considered to be pedestrian- friendly treatments in that there's a stop or a stoplight stopping vehicles. The remaining 76 percent of the roundabout -- potential roundabout sites are a two-way stop control or worse.
I've been told by orientation and the ability specialists that the visually impaired population tends to avoid these uncontrolled crossings, particularly crossing a major leg of the roadway, and therefore it could be argued that the majority of roundabout sites being considered, the accessibility and the safety for all kinds of pedestrians are being significantly improved.
I spent some time looking over the FHWA roundabout guide that we produced in the year 2000, looking for pedestrian-specific and visually impaired-specific references, and I found them sprinkled throughout the guide. I produced a long list today of them, that I'm not going to read through all of them, but we'll follow this up with written testimony that quotes all the places in the guide where we mention the needs and potential solutions for visually impaired crossings.
But essentially the guide carefully balances the needs of all users, including numerous references to the needs of visually impaired pedestrians, while acknowledging and drawing attention to their specific needs and concerns.
For example, audible pedestrian-activated signals may be considered on an approach, although this treatment is not typical. Any leg of a roundabout could be equipped with a pedestrian-activated signal at the pedestrian crossing if a balanced design requires providing assistance to pedestrians at that location. For example, motorized volume that is too heavy at times to provide a sufficient number of gaps acceptable for pedestrians may warrant a pedestrian signal equipped with audible devices to assist people with visual disabilities.
My comment here is that we feel that this flexible language is more appropriate given the lack of research on this issue and the possibility of there being more than one solution.
Other potential solutions discussed are as follows: In urban areas, speed tables, called flat-topped road humps, could be considered for wheelchair users provided that good geometric design has reduced absolute vehicle speeds to less than 20 kilometers per hour, or 12 miles per hour at the crossing. Pedestrian crossing across speed tables must have detectable warning material as described above to clearly delineate the edge of the street. Speed tables should generally be used on streets with approach speeds of 55 kilometers per hour, which is 35 miles per hour, or less. And so on through the guide, there are many references to potential treatments other than just signalized intersections.
In summary, the guide clearly presents both the issues faced by pedestrians as well as potential site-specific and context-based solutions. However, it's very careful to limit -- to respect the limitations of current research, knowledge, and practices.
We find the current recommendations before you are unnecessarily restrictive in that they propose only one solution to what is clearly a very complex problem that we don't yet fully understand. We think that such exclusive solutions are premature and may preempt the search for other potential solutions that are currently being considered in other research projects.
Finally, I'd like to close by quoting an email clarification from David Youth of Western Michigan University to Lois Thibault, dated January 31st, 2002.
If I could just read this paragraph, I would --
MR. ROBINSON: As one of the authors of the Access Board's roundabout bulletin and of a very brief summary of the initial Vanderbilt study linked to the bulletin, I'm concerned that the subject header of this group discussion on roundabout signalization is misleading. In the context of this discussion, the header seems to imply that the bulletin recommends a signalization of roundabouts, which is not the case.
The bulletin does not include a factual -- does include a factual, nonjudgmental report of the PROWAAC recommendations and also challenges planners and engineers to devise alternatives to signalization that will enhance the accessibility of roundabout crosswalks to individuals with blindness and blurred vision.
Our strongest statement about signalization is that it may be required in some situations, and we state that in such an event, research is needed to determine how to signalize roundabouts so that the signals optimize roundabout operations for both pedestrians and drivers.
MR. CANNON: Mr. Robinson, we thank you very much.
MR. KURAHASHI: You are pronouncing it correct.
My name is Gregory Kurahashi with Kurahashi & Associates. We are civil engineers, architects, and landscape architects. My address is [...] Beaverton, Oregon. I'll be very short and brief.
Parallel curb ramps, 1104.2.2, my comment is that barrier note should be clarified I believe to include such things as landscaping and other barriers other than the 42-inch rail. It's pretty critical because it can be misinterpreted to the point where barriers are put up against landscaping that may be only about five feet deep to a building because it is a vertical drop where no pedestrians would be on the other side.
The other comment that I want to make is that section 1102.14, 1109. The dimension of 168 inches, 168 inches, is I believe a mistake because the mention allows and requires that you have 60-inch space for someone to get out on the passenger side. When you do that, you end up with no walkway on the passenger side of the vehicle with the 168 requirement. So it has to be increased to maybe about 228 as an exception, otherwise you won't have a sidewalk on the other side, giving one on the street side.
Regarding the passenger loading section, the loading zone section 1102.15, the comment there is that if -- when there is an area of 100 feet continuous passenger loading zones, if the requirement is for the 60 inches to be on the driver's side, the problem is that most of the space will be taken up in the use for the wheelchair-accessible or handicapped-accessible zone and you may only end up with one other location there because the geometry of pulling in and out of that space will take up too much space. So that is a critical issue regarding what's stated there.
And finally, the comment regarding the overall length of blocks. There was an overall comment regarding when the sidewalk comments should apply. And -- I'm sorry -- I can't find it very fast. That's fine. Those are the main comments I had.
MR. CANNON: Mr. Kurahashi, thank you very much.
MR. SCHULMAN: My name is Cliff Schulman. I
represent Center for Independence. The Center for Independence is a state
Independent Living Council member. Our services consist of community advocacy
and education, independent living services, peer support services, and
information and referral. Of special note is our integral environs design
project that fosters comprehensive plans and community integration.
First of all, give you a little bit of background about myself.
MR. CANNON: Before you go forward, Mr. Schulman, may I ask people in the back of the room, please take your conversation out in the hallway so we can all hear what Mr. Schulman has to say. Excuse me.
MR. SCHULMAN: Thank you.
First of all, I'm an international access design consultant. I got my training in Europe with the Access Centers in London. I am one of the five original writers of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I consulted in Jordan to the royal family. I have background with ADA, a little bit, 15 years. Some started before with ad hocs to discuss the preparation. I'm in the Washington state area.
Okay. My first thing is a development of what is holistic environments? Because that's what we try to get people to understand. A holistic environment is a building or location that does not need extraordinary adaptation for any special group of people. It is a place that has been modified or predesigned for everyone's use and enjoyment throughout their lifetimes.
An environment for one's lifetime includes way finding, multimodal of transportation, building auditing, environmental impact analysis and understanding, and comprehensive, integral design concepts.
Bring up the music to enjoy.
Comprehensively integral design: Working with the engineers and architects to assist in using specific elements in an environmental area in order to create an integral environment that can support the conceptual design of the architect and engineer without compromising the importance and inclusion of the holistic elements of a design.
The inclusion of holistic environment design in the concepts leads to a more universal configuration by: One, eliminating design barriers in order to improve building and public area access; two, cultivating a vision to improve the quality of life for all people throughout their entire lifetimes. In other words, holistic and humane thinking that builds true human communities.
Because we're short on time, I'm going to skip a couple of things and move down to the specific comments. Being that you already know the numbers of the items we're discussing, I am just going to talk about our comments and call them friendly amendments. I'm going to move down on the computer.
Let's start with 1102.5.1. Our amendment, protrusions limits should read zero. Reduce vertical clearance should read 14 inches.
We're talking about the vertical clearance as you see on the slide. I can't. But there's people of different sizes, and we have youth and young people, short-statured people using -- that are blind using canes.
In your -- in your -- or the ADA picture that's on here, we're talking about a 27-inch height for a rail or something like that. I smash the back of my hand on it because -- I'm not standing straight up and down when I'm standing next to that 27 inches. My cane's at an angle and I'm moving at a good clip. So we need to reduce the height of those types of things.
I want to talk about -- I want to jump ahead a little bit. We're talking about the 80-inch height levels. People are getting a little bit taller nowadays, and people on the street who have awnings and such like that like to hang items down. So when you say trees and other items should be at the eight-foot level.
I'm being told I have three minutes. So I want to discuss a little bit about street furniture. That's 1102.9 amendment.
The street furniture must have a high contrast marking or be at high contrast in the background along a pedestrian way. The street furniture will not extend into the clear path area.
Can you change the -- okay.
So you are -- what you're looking at is you're looking at something that was built just this past year in Lakewood, Washington. And being that it rains in Washington state a lot, you can notice that there's no differentiation between the benches sticking out and your shins and your future.
I want to discuss -- move to the next place, please.
1107.2, discussing the amendment for a zero tolerance for encroachment of anything into a clear floor or ground space, changing guidelines so that the furniture may not encroach on minimum clear area. Any infringement into clear space creates a null of the definition of "clear space."
I'm going to jump past the bus stops because you already have this in electronic and print.
I want to discuss clear width and also on 1103.3, and I think I will -- okay. Change minimum clear width to 60 inches. Larger wheelchairs, people using dog eye guides, people using sighted guides, people using wheelchair, assistance animals all exceed the 48 inches proposed in this section. If you look -- that's okay. We can just jump through.
Okay. We're going to get flushed in a second.
MR. CANNON: Want to go back?
MR. SCHULMAN: No. Stay where you are. We're discussing the flush tactile design for your crossings. We have an amendment. Remove requirements for truncated domes at landings and blended transitions. In the event of a landed alleyway, crossing or any surface -- you can go through -- surface and blends -- oh, sorry -- if blends flat warning bars that extend from 18 inches from point of barrier to 36 inches in depth.
In the case of pedestrian crossing and a railroad crossing, the tactile surface must be coupled with a pedestrian crossing gate, which hasn't been covered at all by any of the ADA.
MR. CANNON: Mr. Schulman, one minute, please.
MR. SCHULMAN: All right. That's my comment there.
I want to go to pedestrian signal phase timing. So you can skip through to until you see a street for a crossing.
1105.3. We recommend the walk speed be reduced to 2.3 feet maximum. The total distance used in calculating pedestrian signal phase timing should include the entire length of the crosswalk, plus the distance from the curb cut if they are in line, plus the distance from the audible pedestrian signal to the curb cut must be included in the walk speed because you're now including your vibration system.
If they're six feet back or four feet back, you need to include that time.
I see my time is up. Thank you very much. You have everything.
MR. CANNON: Mr. Schulman, we thank you for your comment and the obvious time you spent preparing the memo and preparing the memo to Scott in a format we can take back with us.
MR. COOK: Good morning. Thank you. I appreciate the
opportunity to speak. I'm speaking here as an individual. I'll give my name and
area first and credentials.
I want it to be known I'm speaking not as an advocate for the agencies I work with or anyone else, though it interrelates to my job. My name is Robert Cook, Robert G. Cook. I live in Springfield, Oregon. I have quite the list of academic credentials, mostly involving the rehabilitation for the blind, education, community development, and planning. And I have a Master's in teaching. I've been blind for 23 years, and I have travelled internationally and nationally.
Presently, I'm on the Oregon Commission for Disabilities as a commissioner. And I also work at the Independent Living Center, and I have a recreationally camp for blind adults in Washington state. So I'm very well acquainted with both rural and urban environments in the Northwest.
My real issue is fairly simple. I don't claim to be any expert in ADA. My interest is usually educational, rehabilitation, teaching independent living skills for people who are blind and other disabilities in my work as a person and advocate in the Independent Living Center in this environment and also my work in
Washington state in the services for the blind. I quite often have to answer questions about access to intersections and safety, and also my comments involve that in two areas. Fairly simple.
I at the present have some 61 listings in my consumer booklet of people that I've worked with in Lane County, Oregon, that have questioned me. These are both people with and without disabilities, the majority of people being either merely visually impaired or new to disabilities such as mobility impairments. And questions usually fall into, why do we need truncated domes?
I am here as an individual stating, as a blind person, I highly approve of truncated domes when they're used in safety environments such as elevated platforms, blended curbs, and anywhere where there is a common problem of safety. I think this is the most sensible simply because I do not see people complaining or picketing or having a problem over a simple gate, a rail, a guidance path in a Greyhound bus station or AmTrak, which are also concerns placed there for the concern of public safety.
These environments aren't in the public right-of-way. They do impinge people in such a way to create a greater level of safety.
My two comments, then: First, I'm concerned with the wording that I've seen and read recently. Again, I claim not to be an expert in the statutory language, but as a public reader I would just like to suggest that the term "truncated dome" not be the only term utilized when it comes to detectable warnings, because at the moment we have products by the companies that have built and made and patented truncated domes primarily. They have products that serve one other purpose, which is of great importance to people with blindness.
Coming to a blended intersection I think it's most important to have a detectable warning in an area where a person might cross a cross-expansion joint and into the vehicular right-of-way without any awareness because of lack of detectability. So I think it's important. Again, I'm a proponent of truncated domes in that regard. But there's still one issue, which is they stop, they warn, and at times, many of my 60 people have talked to me, they disorient.
My suggestion for the language is detectable warnings, detectable surfaces, and a parenthetical statement, truncated domes, linear, way finding, detectable markers. Open the guideline or the soon-to-be statute, I hope, to allow people and energies that have yet been unexpended in potential resources for people who are blind to both detect, warn, and guide. And this is something that I know the truncated dome companies are moving towards, yet at the present I have not seen it achieved at any crossing out of the some I surveyed. Also, I question at times the depth at which the truncated dome companies, which are measured noted, are not detectable in a two-by-two pattern yet produced with paint 22 by 26, which does nothing for a totally blind person. A truncated tactile area is 22 by 24.
So I think it's important again for uniformity that there be some energy placed within the Board to -- or PROWAAC, rather, to put energy into opening it so that people who have products, such as the truncated dome companies who have to have linear and detectable-pattern products, be allowed into the arena, the capitalistic arena, to save us money so we can utilize directional systems that also detect and direct.
I've seen this in several places in Europe. I think the sensibility must go all the way back to the original pieces of directional guidance material that were developed in Japan in 1966, now being used in other countries, London and such. And I think to leave that directional part out of the picture by creating the language stating only truncated domes is kind of self-defeating, to be honest. It ain't quite the American way.
On top of that, I believe the one aspect I do question -- truncated domes are a term. But the detectable and directional aspect of warning systems and placements for the safety of people with visual impairments, my hope is it wouldn't impinge other travellers, pedestrians in the name of safety for just the blind because we have people with multiple disabilities. People who use wheelchairs. People who use baby strollers. Men and women in high heels these days who walk down a curb cut as an avenue of access, yet I question the propriety and if not oxymoronic use of detectable high-level, not-at-surface truncated domes to be placed there simply because if the curb cut was created for greater access for people who are mobility-impaired, to create a smoother transition into crossing areas, it seems nonsensical to use it in one area as a truncated barrier, i.e., warning, for safety.
Utilize it in another.
And I understand the concern about people who may or may not be blind, warning about blind people wandering into an intersection. I feel that it's less likely that that would happen in a curb cut, whereas if the curb cut is there, it's because there are proximity edgings that allow you to know what and where you are.
Also, it's kind of demeaning being a person that is blind to think you need a detectable warning in the middle of an area which you are probably walking down due to an engagement or position or place that you have propriety getting to. In other words, I kind of know where I'm going.
So simply my two questions are: Is it possible to make the statutory language open to allow other systems which the truncated dome companies and my fellow who will speak next also have an interest in, because they are far less expensive, they spend too -- I mean, they utilize too the aspects needed. Which is warning for safety --
MR. CANNON: Mr. Cook, if you could wrap up in a minute.
MR. COOK: -- and direction. Also, I'd like to limit the use of detectable warnings for use in curb cuts. Thank you.
MR. CANNON: Thank you very much, Mr. Cook. Appreciate it.
MR. STOCKTON: Thank you very much.
I had the opportunity to address the PROWAAC committee in February. For those of you who were here then, hello again. For those of you who were not, my name's Kevin Stockton. I developed a way finding system for the blind and visually impaired.
When I had the opportunity to speak with the PROWAAC committee back in February, they said, you know what? That looks like a pretty good idea. Do your homework and see what you come up with.
So I have come back to give you an update on a very, very good idea. I think we've got a better mousetrap going. We've had some implementations here within Oregon to several different cities. We're working on some other ones. We're also working on some implementations in cities throughout some other states.
So this has gained an awful lot of popularity because of its simplicity, because of its workability, and because of its lack of impact on people with other disabilities. What I'm talking about is it can be termed as a detectable warning, but typically people are calling it a detectable directional guidance system, way finding. A lot of people have different terminology for it.
What I brought to you today are some of the letters from the responses that we've had. This was following up on my promise to the PROWAAC committee to bring back some of the responses. Within this, you're going to find responses from the blinded veterans association. Within the -- you're going to find responses from the American Council of the Blind, the National Federation of the Blind. You're going to find responses from orientation and mobility instructors, the people that teach us how to be blind.
You're going to find information in there from engineers, architects. Everybody has given us a great big thumb's up. We've got a recent endorsement from the state independent living centers, which identify cross-disabilities and low impact on them or the positive impact we're coming to find out for people with cognitive problems.
So we're working on a better mousetrap, and I would certainly like the U.S. Access Board to consider it. I'm not the only company making things of this nature, but this is the type of information that we as blind people are actually looking for, not so much where am I but where am I going?
I guess we all know the statistics, and that's apparently why there's such a big push to correct the problem, keep people from getting killed out in the public right-of-way.
So I would like the U.S. Access Board to take a look at what I brought to you and consider the option of a better mousetrap and I believe fulfill the goal that you came together with, and that's to make this country more accessible than it ever has been before. Thank you very much.
MR. CANNON: Thank you, Mr. Stockton.
MR. CANNON: Does the material you have given to us have pictures and descriptions as well, of the product? Mr. Stockton?
MR. CANNON: Thank you very much.
MS. WALHOF: My name is Ramona Walhof. I'm with
the National Federation of the Blind. My address is [...] Boise, Idaho.
Audible traffic signals cost money. I've been quoted $4,000-5,000 per signal. Not per intersection, per signal. I hope that's wrong. That's what I've been quoted. Eight signals would be necessary for a simple intersection. This would be between 30 and 40 thousand dollars for purchase only. It would not include truncated domes or any other textured crosswalk installation. It would not include installation or maintenance.
The intersection next to my office is -- would need ten to 14 signals, and that would make it more dangerous. The streets that come together, there are five of them, and there are at least five islands in that intersection. It would be dangerous for blind people to assume that they get the correct information from birds or beepers because they would not know that there is not a crosswalk on the north side of the intersection.
The noise created by all of the beepers and buzzers would indeed make it more difficult to hear the traffic sounds, which give the best information. It is hard to cross this intersection, but blind people do it all the time right now. There may be a better way to help, but right now the traffic sounds are the valuable sounds.
Blind people regard too much noise as a pollutant. Traffic sounds are valuable but must not be jumbled with too many other sounds. The fewer the sounds, the better we can hear them.
I have recently spoken to several people who were visiting in Victoria, Canada, and they found the audible traffic signals there confusing and unclear, troublesome because they caused them not to be able to hear the regular traffic sounds. Thus, bird calls or beepers will be dangerous at many intersections.
In Boise, Idaho, we currently have 326 intersections with traffic signals. At the prices I have quoted, it would cost $10 million-plus to purchase these signals, let alone all the other costs associated with them.
I contacted the national -- the Institute of Traffic Engineering. In 1991, according to its study, nationwide there was 1.24 signals -- signal crossings per -- signal intersections with traffic signals per 1,000 population. I could find no newer statistics than this.
If you figure the population of the United States at 270 million, this would mean there would be more than 334,000 signalled intersections in the country. These figures probably proportionately continue even though the population increases.
If you figure the purchase price per intersection at 32,000 -- and that may be low, it may be high -- then the purchase cost of the audible signals alone would be $11 billion. That is four to five times as much money as the federal government is spending on rehabilitation for the disabled right now. Not just disabilities -- not just rehabilitation for the blind but disabilities in general, the federal rehab budget.
This is an expenditure far out of proportion to its value. But this is not all. Installation and maintenance are not included in the truncated -- domes are not included. So you have to watch the cost.
I was recently in San Diego walking along Pacific Highway downtown, and the birds were trilling. I urged my sighted companion to cross the street when the birds indicated we should go. He refused, saying the light was red. I pointed out that the bird said go. He replied, if you go, you'll be killed. Now, that may have been dramatic, but the birds were set opposite to the traffic lights.
Maintenance had not been done. And if I had been alone and if I had paid attention to those birds, I would have been in extreme danger. Never will I rely on those sounds if I can hear the traffic.
I have observed items bounce out of grocery carts and strollers when they are pushed through humpy-bumpy surfaces and slopes at exits in grocery stores. I have observed women wearing high heels and people on crutches who lost their balance on these surfaces. We must be careful that they are as limited in size as possible. We do not wish to make the world less safe for others.
There are far more blind seniors than younger blind people, and these people need secure footing, not humpy-bumpy surfaces. We should keep architectural alterations at a minimum.
There may be some intersections that could be more safe for the blind if some special signals were provided. If so, they should be quiet. What are called vibrotactile or vibrating signals are available. Perhaps they're newer than audible traffic signals, but they could -- they could provide information to anyone who wishes to use them. They can be turned off. They also can be designed to -- and equipped to show what direction you need to walk when you're at these intersections, when the intersection is not square.
But most important, it would be used by pedestrians to decide whether or not these special signals are needed, and it would not disturb the peace of all the people around. Do you really want a bird chirping outside your bedroom window 24 hours a day, seven days a week? Or, for that matter, do you want it outside your office window?
We've got to take these things into consideration. Not only would many people find this irksome, but they would blame the blind. They might be charitable and sympathetic, but they would want the -- the blind want to be respected as responsible citizens, not pitied because people think we cannot cross the street as regular pedestrians.
MR. CANNON: Wrap up in one minute, please, Ms. Walhof.
MS. WALHOF: We know technology is changing rapidly, and we believe the vibrating signals are much newer and perhaps more appropriate than the audible ones. If special signals could be made quiet and not terribly costly, there are a limited number of intersections where these vibrating signals might be helpful.
We ask the Board -- I know you don't want to hear this. You've put a lot of work into this. We ask the Board, please do not adopt this regulation, but let's reconsider and let's redesign a new regulation, please.
MR. CANNON: Thank you.
MR. CASTORIA: Thank you, Mr. Chair. My name is
Eddie Castoria. I serve as the executive director for the San Diego safe call
box program in San Diego, California.
I'm sorry to hear the prior speaker had problems in America's finest city recently, although it doesn't surprise me (inaudible) city of San Diego.
I am, just by reference, a former special prosecutor for fraud section of the criminal division, Department of Justice in a past life, and I guess that makes me close to a neighbor of yours since I was at 19 Pennsylvania.
Thanks for the privilege of addressing the Board today. I know we're in a hurry, so I'm going to cut this down a lot.
MR. CANNON: Mr. Castoria, excuse me. I hear quite a bit of noise in the room. We know you've come here to share your views, and we want to hear them. For those of you having conversations, we would appreciate it if you would take that conversation outside the room.
Mr. Castoria, I apologize for the intrusion.
MR. CASTORIA: No problem. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I would like to offer special thanks to Kathy Johnson and her staff, who could not have been nicer in arranging my testimony today. Please note that for your record.
I have written testimony I would like to submit for the record, and I can submit it in written form or, if you like, I can submit it electronically, Scott, if that would be fine for you, or both.
MR. WINDLEY: Both.
MR. CASTORIA: Okay. I'll hand this to you when I'm done. And I may ask for permission otherwise to extend the deadline of the 28th, especially since we're going quickly.
What I want to talk about today, if I might, is Section 1110, which pertains to call boxes and talk about how California call boxes have been working to comply with the -- a number of the things over the years. Talk about the facts and misconceptions that I often hear about our call box programs and how they differ from other call box programs around the country.
I will not talk about the initiatives that we have done to implement these things in the California call box program because that would take time. That's in the record. I'd ask your staff to read that, however.
And finally, some suggestions on modifications and clarifications to Section 1110 as drafted. And, again, I will limit what I'm going to say today and ask staff to review the more detailed information.
Let me talk about some facts about California and the call box programs. We were established initially in California in the late 1980s. San Diego, I might mention, is the first one, in Orange County. And since that time, the call box programs have been implemented in over 30 of California's 54 counties, primarily the larger ones, although many of the very small ones have also installed call boxes.
At this point in total there are over 17,500 call boxes in California in the various programs, which I believe would make us have more call boxes than the rest of the country put together. Part of that's because of our unique funding that we have. They range from a dozen call boxes in the smallest one to over 4400 in Los Angeles County.
Call box programs in California, so that no one is confused by this, are referred to as service authorities for freeway emergencies, or SAFE as an acronym, and they are created under authority created by state statute, streets and highway code Section 2550. And under that statute -- this is one of the misconceptions, things people don't understand -- each local call box program is a local government entity, not one big program in the state of California, as they may be in other states where they're run by the Departments of Transportation. And that has an impact on how we get to deal with all the things we have to, including the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Each SAFE is operated under a board of directors made up of local elected officials within that county or, in a couple of locations in the Bay area and Sacramento, a group of counties that are in a multicounty jurisdiction. Again, individual government agencies.
For those of you who have been in California, you've seen our call boxes. They are the yellow call boxes on the 14-foot silver poles with the big blue signs and the solar powered panels at the top, generally at half- mile intervals along the freeways and state routes.
They provide dual-voice capability. That is, people may speak on both ends, the caller from the call box and the call taker from the other end. That differentiates them from many of the call boxes at other parts of the country. You simply push a button, pull a handle, and send some sort of message that says, I need police. They're able to communicate two-way.
Call boxes are used for a number of reasons, but most often through requested service for a vehicle, out of gas, need a tow, medical emergencies, accidents, et cetera. They're taken 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And since the beginning of California programs, my estimate is that over 10 million motorists have been assisted by call-box calls in California alone.
What about misconceptions? I talked about one of them. We're different from other call box programs because we do provide two-way call boxes. Some other programs in the country do, also: Buffalo, City of New York, Georgia. But many others do not. We're different in that way. We are not a single system owned and operated by the State of California or any -- we're not operated by the County or the City. It's a separate government agency run by the board of directors of locally elected officials, county supervisors, city council who were appointed to that board by local agencies.
We are limited in where we spend our funds. The funds that are raised by the $1 vehicle registration fee add-on may be spent only within the county in which they are raised. So we're not a pot of money around the state that can be used or moved to take care of requirements we have.
Perhaps the biggest misconception that I would like staff and the Board to think about in terms of how these draft guidelines might apply to us is that people think that we can simply make any alteration in the right-of-way that we wish to comply with these regulations or any other. And the fact is we can't because we are guests on the right-of-way of the California Department of Transportation in the state of California.
We operate under an encroachment permit issued by Cal-Trans to each individual SAFE. So, therefore, in order to comply with any regulation, we have to get those changes we would make approved by Cal-Trans.
MR. CANNON: One more minute.
MR. CASTORIA: All right. Thank you.
Therefore, we would ask the Access Board to think about these in the direction of receiving guidelines and ask you to bring Cal-Trans in on that in some way, because we need their assistance to do what we are being asked to do.
Finally, with only a minute left, I'm going to ask you to look at my comments on the suggestion modifications that we have given. We've tried to look at this fairly detailed. A couple of them are fairly simple. The requirements are that there be no reflective coatings on the signs.
Our signs have reflective coating because we want people to see them at night. It's important to find the call box on a dark freeway. So that would be a good exception. There are others discussed.
The biggest issue that we need help on, and we want to think about, is the requirement to put TTYs in the call boxes. They are installed in the call boxes in three of the counties: Los Angeles, Ventura, and most recently Orange. There have been problems with their operation.
There was a lawsuit between Los Angeles County and the manufacturer of the call box about patent rights. All of these things raise issues with us in terms of, as public servants, can we spend the money on them?
I will extend my remarks. Thank you very much for the time.
MR. CANNON: Thank you, Mr. Castoria.
MS. NOELL-WAGGONER: Thank you, Mr. Chair
I am president of the Center for Design for an Aging Society, a nonprofit organization.
MR. CANNON: Call attention again to the conversations in the back of the room. It is distracting, and Ms. Wagner has come here to share her thoughts with us. We would like to hear them. If you're having a conversation, please move to the back of the hallway.
MS. NOELL-WAGGONER: Thank you. And so I'm here to talk about the needs of older people. And as other presenters have talked about, as people age, their vision diminishes. So my questions are very -- the items that I'd like to draw your attention to are mostly having to do with projection into the walk space and value contrast, because as people's eyes age, they lose contrast sensitivity because of the light scatter within the eye.
So that's a very important thing for being able to see under high-light conditions as well as low-light conditions. In fact, the value contrast enables everyone to see better in low-light levels.
So, I passed out some photographs of curbs and different things that would -- that illustrate my point that these are tripping hazards for people who have low vision, that cannot discern where an object is in their pathway when it isn't tall enough or doesn't have enough value contrast to demonstrate where that object is. And I would like to see if we couldn't include some language regarding that. Then in -- that would be in section 1102.5.
And then in the Article 1108.1.3 relative to contrast, you allow light to dark and dark to light. However, older eyes are much more sensitive to glare, and so bright daylight reflecting off a very light surface can be blinding to them temporarily, and so it's painful as well as not being able to see.
So I included an example of a sidewalk that has color in it so that it isn't so light and reflective and then another one that isn't appropriate to the city street. It does demonstrate the point about light value.
And the third comment, I don't know where it goes, but I would just simply like for the record to say that there is an ANCI standard out relative to lighting and contrast in the environment for older adults. And since some of the nursing homes we're talking about are federally funded, I would like to see how we could get that document into -- to be recognized by the Board and have it as part of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Thank you for my time.
MR. COLLEY: Thank you, Mr. Chair, members of the
The Washington Council of the Blind will be submitting its position paper, which is in addition to the remarks that I'll be making today. My name is Berl Colley. I am president of the Washington Council of the Blind. My address is [...] Lacey, Washington 98503.
The Washington Council of the Blind wants to commend the Board on the efforts that have been made to date to produce the report, draft guidelines, and we wish to address three areas of concern to our membership.
First of all, the Washington Council of the Blind is a grass-roots consumer organization of blind and visually impaired people and low-vision folks from around the Pacific Northwest. That's Washington, Oregon, and southwest British Columbia.
Three areas that we want to address will be spending some time on pedestrian signals, talking a little bit about detectable tactile warnings, and also way-finding systems.
I want to commend some Northwest cities, and this isn't by any way a complete list of those that have addressed the situation, but the cities of Yakima, Washington; Olympia, Washington; Longview-Kelso, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Salem, Oregon; and Victoria, British Columbia; are all areas in the Pacific Northwest that have installed some or a lot of pedestrian signals, and we applaud them for that.
Pedestrian signals, as we see them, are an adjunct to the safety of a pedestrian crossing an intersection. That's whether they're blind or sighted, but particularly for those of us that are blind, it's an assistance. It's another level of safety. And I'll give you an example of that.
Where I cross, when I go home from work every day, is a T-intersection. That is, we have one road going east to west and another road, the leg of it, coming from the south. And the environment is such that if a car coming from the east stops and you're standing on the north side of the street, you would naturally cross.
Another indication is a road -- car coming from the south leg and turning left across the traffic going east, you would assume that it's okay to walk, also, because that's crossing a lane of oncoming traffic. Unfortunately, what often happens is the driver, whatever mood that particular person might be in, sometimes takes chances. And sometimes because there might be enough of a gap, they will go ahead and go no matter what the lighting situation is.
An audible signal in that intersection would tell any of us crossing at that point that it's time to go and we wouldn't have to take the chance relying on the whims of drivers. I think in this case I would rather take chances with the percentages of failure on electronics than I would on the human being.
Secondly, I want to talk about detectable tactile warnings. With a number of intersections where I live -- and I have travelled around the state of Washington and Oregon some -- there is a greater tendency to build wheelchair ramps so that they face the intersection rather than face the crosswalk. When you go down these ramps, that puts you out in the intersection. You have to make an either right- or left-hand turn to get over to the crosswalk. A detectable warning would at least let you know that you're there.
Also, a number of cities around the country are making flat corners. And detectable tactile warnings would at least let you know that you're coming up to the corner and not let you wander out in the middle of the street, which a couple years ago in Des Moines I saw some things like that happening because of the flat corners that were there in Des Moines, Iowa. So that's a concern.
An additional concern is detectable warnings for subways and train stations. Over recent years, it's gotten quite a bit of publicity, there have been blind people killed on subway platforms because they didn't realize they were as close to the tracks as they were. That's unfortunate. That makes the members of our organization sad to know that those kinds of things occur, when at least they could be prevented or reduced by detectable warnings.
Third area I want to talk about is that of way-finding systems. The Washington Council for the Blind wants to encourage the Access Board to investigate, develop a system of research into areas of way-finding systems that are now currently being either sold or developed.
Three of them that come to mind are the system from England that produces a flat sound across the sound spectrum for way finding from safety points. Another one is the system from Talking Signs, which some of you may have seen in the Mosconi Center area of San Francisco. That's the one where the infrared signs are there and you have a receiver, something like a television remote, that tells you what's there and where things are at. And finally, those systems now that are looking at the global positioning systems that tell people where they may be at.
These are all not things that are ultimate answers, but they're things that are an addition to the safety of blind and visually impaired people in the United States, and all citizens of the United States.
MR. CANNON: One more minute.
MR. COLLEY: The Washington Council of the Blind wants to encourage the Board to look at the pedestrian signals, look at the tactile warnings, look at the way-finding systems, review the documents that I have produced. The ones that you have may not be the ultimate answer, but they are in addition to the safety that we all would like to have while we're out and about. And we encourage you to take what you have and adopt those and continue your work.
Thank you very much.
MR. CANNON: Thank you very much, Mr. Colley.
MR. BURGER: Good morning, Mr. Chair, members of
the Access Board. Thank you for the opportunity.
I'm Ric Burger. I'm a member of Oregon ADAPT, American Disabled (inaudible) Programs Today, and also one of the organizers who are not dead yet. Also a member of the Disabled Services Advisory Council of Multnomah County.
I'd like to start off by talking about things that I think are needed in the procedures for placing curb cuts. We have a -- I think what's a rather extremely dumb law here in Portland, an ordinance that requires that when a utility works on a sidewalk, whether that be a crosswalk, intersection, corner, wherever, when they are finished with the work, they have to return that sidewalk to the exact condition that it was in before they started.
The result is that in many cases, opportunities for installing curb ramps are lost and certainly adds to the cost of installing curb cuts later. This is a really poor situation. I would suggest that you address that with some sort of (inaudible) that requires cities when they do utility work, that they install curb ramps.
By the way, the City's definition of utility includes its own water bureau. So, you can see that's a real problem. The other thing I wanted to talk about is technology. There needs to be some sort of accountability for having technology that works. A few years ago the City created a esplanade on the other side of the river from here, a pedestrian right-of-way, bike path, pedestrian path, docking path, and at the point it connects with the Burnside Bridge they installed a stairway.
We were promised at that time that -- the City said they would also install an elevator to bring -- for people who use mobility devices to get up to the level of the bridge. It's in a very important intersection for this path.
First the City said, well, we're going to install the elevator, but we're not going to install it right away because we're concerned about crime. When we pointed out that that was not a valid reason to not put the elevator in, what the City -- and when we said that we were considering legal action, the City responded saying, okay, we'll put in a stair lift on those stairs.
We said to them at that time, that's a technology that's notorious for having maintenance problems. Unfortunately, under current ADA regulations, I'm told that apparently that was legal for them to do. They did that.
The point I'm trying to make here is that so far as I know, that stair lift worked once the day the esplanade was opened, and I have not been by there and seen it work at all. It has been out of service -- actually, I have never seen it in service, yet this is legal. And we did warn the City that this is notoriously poor technology.
You need to make sure that if you're going to put in some sort of technological assistance in your right-of-way, it needs to be a technology that works. It needs to be a proven technology. And as far as I can tell, there's nothing that forces the City to go back and put that elevator in simply because the stair lift doesn't work. It's a real problem. It needs to be addressed.
The other thing I wanted to say is there needs to be something addressed about economic development. I live in an area of the city that's called the Gateway district, which is currently under an economic development plan. The City wants to develop the area. But along the area I live, there's quite often no curb ramps. There's often not even any sidewalks. And if the City's going to do a lot of development that's going to increase automobile traffic, I'm really concerned about my safety in that regard.
So there needs to be something that ties improvements in putting in sidewalks, improving -- putting in curb ramps, otherwise you're going to see a lot of injuries for people with mobility issues or people who have disabilities as well.
And that's basically the gist of my remarks, and I want to thank you.
MR. CANNON: Thank you, Mr. Burger, very much.
MR. CANNON: Thank you.
MR. MORRIS: I'd like to thank you for the
opportunity to both hear our stakeholders and get some sense of their concerns.
I think there's nothing more sobering than hearing stakeholders hear about their
unmet needs and what we need to do to actually meet those needs.
My name is Ed Morris. I'm associate administrator for civil rights for the Federal Highway Administration.
The Rehabilitation Act and ADA requires the Federal Highway Administration to ensure people with disabilities are not discriminated against in transportation projects and that all people have the same opportunity to use facilities built with the federal and federal aid funds.
These guidelines are significant because they provide a set of standards specific for public rights-of-way and offer how-to guidance to offer facilities that comply with the nondiscrimination requirements. It's important for engineers, designers, planners to have specific right-of-way guidelines because guesswork is often applied in attempts to meet the ADA general design standards.
Because few engineers have formal training on how to design for pedestrians, the lack of training in the absence of specific standards has led to noncompliance with the laws, pedestrian facilities unusable by people with certain disabilities, and complaints and lawsuits that lead to higher costs than the costs of originally providing accessibility when a facility is constructed or repaired. Also leads to limited resources being stretched to resolve or investigate complaints.
The USDOT is a designated agency and is required to oversee state and local projects and activities associated with ADA compliance. FHWA is responsible for oversight of highway and pedestrian rights-of-way. This responsibility includes sidewalks, crosswalks, signalization, and any other facility or application provided for and used by pedestrians.
What you have provided in your draft is a framework for action by personnel in the Federal Highway Administration and states who have a responsibility to meet the requirements of the ADA. When it's published, the FHWA will develop training courses and trained trainers to present those courses to personnel in state and local government who have the responsibility to meet the obligations in the ADA.
What we are focused on is building the capability and capacity of state and local government personnel to actually meet the obligations incurred by their agencies receiving federal aid funds. I would indicate that there are no perfect plans, no perfect regulations.
I would await your changes based on your hearing the exhibits received today. And once published, I think you need to monitor compliance with it and make the adjustments necessary to get as close to perfection as possible.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide these comments.
MR. CANNON: Thank you.
MR. LOZANO: Good morning.
MR. CANNON: Good morning.
MR. LOZANO: My name is Eugene Lozano, Jr. I am the chair of the committee on access and transportation for the California Council of the Blind.
MR. LOZANO: Today I'm representing the California Council of the Blind, which is a state affiliate of the American Council of the Blind, and is the oldest and largest consumer organization of the blind and vision-impaired in the state of California.
We're very pleased to have the opportunity to comment on the proposed public right-of-way guidelines. We feel that these guidelines are very vital to ensure the participation of persons with disabilities fully in their communities. We would like to express our support of these guidelines and would like to make comments and some suggested amendments that might help, in our opinion, to strengthen these.
I will just briefly go over these, and I will be following up with an in-depth written statement to the Board.
The first I would like to touch upon is your requirement for stairs, which is 1102.10. We agree with the stair-striping requirement, feel that this section needs to be amended to refer to the other approach of the stairs as well as all treads should be marked. It is our understanding that the other approach is not considered a stair tread and wouldn't be -- very crucial to be able to see that. And that's input from many of our persons that are visually impaired in our organization.
Next I would like to go to 1105.2, I believe, which protects pedestrian crosswalks. We are in support as it is written but feel there needs to be a section in there that cross -- cross-references the requirements for clearly contrasting crosswalk markings that are found in the Federal Highway Administration's manual on uniform traffic control devices. The white crosswalk markings provide a visual guide for many persons with low vision and clearly lets people know where to cross, not that it ensures their safety, but we feel that that crosswalk marking contrast needs to be provided and stated. Also, to avoid the use of brick and other paving materials that have very little color contrast and very difficult to see.
Next, roundabouts, which I believe is 1105. We are in support of what you have put in at this point, particularly with the separation, to see that persons will have some clue as to where the crosswalk markings are by having planners or other means of separating the sidewalk from the street.
But particularly of great importance is the accessible pedestrian signal that is needed at those roundabouts. Without those accessible pedestrian signals, it would be almost in some cases impossible to cross safely at roundabouts. So we support what you have written and encourage you to keep it and strengthen it.
Detectable warnings you have throughout the whole guideline. I think in general I'll say under 1108, we are very much in support of the use of detectable warnings at all curb ramps regardless of the slope. Track crossings, boarding platforms, medians, pedestrian refuge islands, and so forth, we feel it has been more than two decades of research that have substantiated the need for detectable warnings and their effectiveness.
Just -- there is one thing that we'd like to bring to your attention for you to consider, and that is on the detectable requirements, 1108.1.1, dome size. We feel that there is a little too much latitude in the variations of the dimensions of the domes, and we feel they need to be more definitive. There could be a possibility of -- with the variations that -- and with the spacing variations that some of the detectability may be lost, and we'll touch on that in our written comments.
The 1108.1.3, contrast, we support that, feel that should be added at least 70 percent contrast, and we would like to see whether if you have appendix or regulatory language, then in addition to the contrast that shall be stated to be used. That is something we have found very effective in the cities of Roseville, Counties of Sacramento in California that they have put in the last four years -- there has been probably close to 2,000 curb ramps put in with detectable warnings that have been yellow, and there has been no complaints about the aesthetics. The feedback we have gotten is it has made them stand out more and has added to their safety and provide information.
I know my comments time is wrapping up. The last thing would be accessible pedestrian signal, 1106. We feel very strongly about this section. It's extremely well-written. We like that it mandates the installation of these signals, when new signals are put in or when existing signals are upgraded. We also are very much in support that there is no requirement that you have a long pedestrian push button to activate the accessibility features. We have no problem with the three-second delay information that tells you features about the intersection, but when --
MR. CANNON: One more minute, please, Mr. Lozano.
MR. LOZANO: We need to know that immediately. And I wish to thank you again for the opportunity to speak on this, and if you have any comments, I'd be willing to answer them right now.
MR. CANNON: Mr. Lozano, we thank you very much for your comments this morning.
MR. FRYE: My name is Daniel Frye. I am a member of the board of directors of the National Federation of the Blind of Washington. My address is [...] Renton, Washington 98055.
I have submitted detailed comments prior to my presentation today, and I appreciate the chair and the Board for your time and attention.
It is my position as a blind person that the use of audible traffic signals and detectable warnings must be considered only in certain limited circumstances. The position of the National Federation of the Blind is indeed the moderate and reasonable position to consider.
My objections to audible traffic signals and other methods of modifying the environment are based on two principal concerns. I believe that their excessive installation promises to negatively impact the social consequences for blind people in our effort to integrate into society and to be accepted well.
For example, if I should seek employment and I go in dressed well and prepared to give a competent interview but the employer feels obligated to purchase a lot of adaptive technology to make this environment accessible, I worry that my chances for success will not be well. Or if I am a blind parent and I go to court to argue that I should have custody of my child, I worry that excessive environmental modifications may suggest to the court that my inherent ability is going to be less than it truly is.
Those are some examples of the social consequences that may not be considered with regard to accessible traffic signals and other detectable warnings.
My second principal suggestion is that they are not practically effective. Most intersections do not -- are not -- in most cases adaptive technology, audible traffic signals are not required. Most intersections do not provide -- most blind people are able to safely and competently travel without pedestrian signals.
Only in certain circumstances, with complicated geometry, complex signalization, or varied signalization may these devices be appropriate. In all cases, I do believe that vital tactile technology should be used if they are to be used at all.
In this way, we limit excessive noise and let us rely on fundamental sounds in our environment for access information. In this way, we do not develop an unnecessary dependence on these types of issues.
MR. CANNON: One more minute.
MR. FRYE: I would ask you not to include requirements for low painter tones as the rules envision consistent placement of these devices, and generally I think it would be hard to get lost in such a finite space while looking for a pole.
Ladies and gentlemen, I would really appreciate your consideration of the fact that everybody's views here are genuinely felt, and I respect them all, but I hope that the social concerns and pragmatic limitations that I have identified will resonate with this Board as you review your -- as you review and deliberate the adoption of rules.
Thank you for your time.
MR. CANNON: Mr. Frye, we thank you for your comments.
MS. BURGETTE: Thank you. My name is Cindy
Burgette, and I am from Bremerton, Washington, first vice president of the
Washington Council of the Blind and president of my local chapter. I am also the
mother of two sighted daughters; married. I work in my local school district,
working with visually impaired students, and I am 40 years old and been blind
all of my life. I am also a guide dog user.
I tell you these things not to boast or brag about me, but to let you know that blind people, just like all people, are a diverse group of people, and we all have different abilities and different lifestyles.
I am very involved in my community, and obviously don't drive. Therefore, I use public transportation as well as getting around as a pedestrian to get from place to place, to go to movie theaters. To go to Seattle, I have to take the ferry, to go shopping, et cetera. I encounter street crossings often.
One of the things that I want to give consideration to is that when a sighted person approaches an intersection, they are able to scope the entire intersection and know exactly what they are encountering. They can tell whether or not there is a right turn lane, whether or not there's an island with multiple lanes that they're going to have to cross, whether there's multiple streets that they -- that are intersecting. They know exactly where the crosswalk is.
When a blind person approaches an intersection, we've heard some testimony that people have had no trouble crossing intersections that are -- sound pretty complex to me, and they do it on a daily basis. The fact is that, yes, anyone probably could learn -- or most people could probably learn an intersection over a period of time, doing it multiple times over and over again. However, we need to make sure that our environment and access to it is based on the idea that people are going to encounter these intersections for the first time.
When I approach an intersection and I'm not fearful of it, it is probably because I have no idea what it looks like. And if I cross based on just a standard intersection, listening to my parallel traffic and crossing along with it, there is a strong likelihood that I am in danger.
Please uphold the rule -- or the report that you have that in regard with APS, and we encourage -- I encourage you to use the locator tones. Those are wonderful attributes, and they're something that people don't have to use if they don't want to. So if I go to an intersection and I think I can do it and I don't need to know when it says to walk, I don't need to use it.
However, if intersections are such that somebody feels that sighted people who can see their environment need to know when it says they can walk, then I feel as a blind person I should have that same information.
MR. CANNON: One more minute, please.
MS. BURGETTE: Thank you.
Yesterday I went to cross an intersection in Seattle. My dog took me to the ramp. I told her, "Forward."
Somebody said, "Ma'am, you are not anywhere near the crosswalk." In fact, we were further down the street. He helped us, and then there was a car actually parked -- pulled into the crosswalk, and we had to go pretty darn close to the parallel traffic. It was a bit scary.
And so I just want to say that that's the real world. And I really do appreciate your time for allowing me to speak, and thank you for acknowledging that all people, whether they're blind or sighted, are different with different abilities. Thank you.
MR. CANNON: We appreciate your comments.
MR. HASTILAS: Good morning. I'm Steve Hastilas
of [...] in Chicago. I am now first vice president of the National Federation of
the Blind, Chicago, Illinois, chapter.
As a blind person, I use many characteristics of the environment all around me to travel safely, competently, and efficiently. Therefore, I strenuously oppose -- propose the requirements for truncated domes at all curb ramps and accessible pedestrian signals at all signalized intersections.
At many intersections, I often use the curbs to the side of the ramps as a reference. Further, the contrast between the concrete sidewalk and asphalt street pavements often provides tactile and auditory cues, which I feel and hear through my cane tip and shoes. The combination of ramps down and up on both sides of the street and the crown of the roadway slightly up in the center of the street for drainage also tells me that I'm crossing the street when I have no traffic sound to inform me otherwise.
I like to walk in a relaxed fashion with grace and finesse. I tend to walk straighter, at a moderate to brisk pace. Unfortunately, I have found that the truncated domes, heavily grooved surfaces, or other textures, ostensibly to benefit blind people, obstruct my cane tip to the point where the cane either -- I'm at risk of either losing my cane from my hand or that its handle will jab me in the stomach.
Additionally, I have encountered snow and ice on truncated domes on railway station platforms where the truncated domes are adjacent to perfectly dry concrete or wood.
Therefore, I support the position of the National Federation of the Blind, calling for truncated domes or, as others have suggested, perhaps other textured treatments, but only at very shallow surfaces of one in 15 or less -- very shallow slopes I should say.
As for accessible pedestrian signals, I have heard several demonstrations in quiet meeting rooms such as this one, not outdoors in vehicular traffic, where sounds echo and dissipate more than appear. I first heard an accessible pedestrian signal --
MR. CANNON: One more minute, please.
MR. HASTILAS: Okay. -- at a real intersection a little over a year
ago, and I went with a mobility instructor, and I heard the mobility tones all
over the intersection at all the different crosswalks, and I told her, "I am
And she replied, "I'm confused about why you're confused."
MR. HASTILAS: And I said -- and I replied, it's too busy. It sounds like a stereo video game.
(Applause and laughter.)
MR. HASTILAS: And my reflections are these: I need to hear the all-important traffic sounds, especially vehicles moving parallel to my direction of travel, vehicles -- stopped vehicles perpendicular to my route, and obviously none turning in front of me.
Vibrotactile signals at pedestrian-activated signals where the pedestrian presses the button to get a green light, any pedestrian, blind or sighted, press the button to get a green light will confirm the actual change of the light to a blind pedestrian. I urge the Access Board to call for features -- these feature only in very limited circumstances.
Thank you very much.
MR. BASKIN: Thank you. Thank you for listening to
my remarks. I am Brian Baskin, and I am executive director of the Sacramento
Society for the Blind. It is, like, dozens of centers around the country. We are
interested in the training of blind people, and since all of our interests are
in safety of blind pedestrians and getting about business, training is at least
as important as modifying the built environment.
However, today I'm not speaking as director of the society; I'm speaking as a blind traveller myself and a blind taxpayer. And I want to confine my comments today to just a proportion of where we're spending the proposed amount of money.
This committee has received a report from PROWAAC which is progressive, positive in so many regards, particularly in regards to people with physical disabilities and mobility impairments. I want to talk today about one small part of the report, which has one enormous cost, and that is the cost relating to blind adaptation of the built environment. Here are some facts. There are about 300,000 signalized intersections in the United States, and as far as we can tell, about on the order of 10 million intersections. Buried within these proposed requirements, the requirements that every single place where a sidewalk meets an intersection, tactile warnings be installed. That's really the huge cost center in this, and I want to inject in my commentary some realities and some reality checks.
How much cost are we talking about? Well, at $4,000 a signal, we might be talking about $1.2 billion for signals, but for tactile warnings, about $40 billion when all this gets built out over the life of the proposal.
How much is $40 billion? It is more than the gross domestic product of the nation of Vietnam. It is more, in fact, than the United States spends -- $10 billion more than the United States, federal government spends on all elementary and secondary education. It is, in fact, triple the amount of the entire budget of NASA. It is five times the amount the federal government spends on all disabilities for special education in the course of a year in all 50 states.
Now, we're just talking about tactile warnings for blind people here. It is 14 times the total amount the federal government spends on its entire RSA, rehabilitation services administration, for all disabilities. It is 1,000 times the amount of the Older Blind Americans Act, federal monies for all 50 states under title 11 --
MR. CANNON: One more minute, please.
MR. BASKIN: The interest on this amount of money itself would be enough if it were just banked to pay for all payments to all blind people currently on SSI, supplemental security income. In California, where I come from, we're looking at a proportionate cost of around $5 billion to adapt the state's built environment.
We're looking at a kind of distressing situation in which we have private poverty in blind training, that is, cane-travel instruction, all the other instructions that are important for blind, and public largess.
$5 billion for adapting the environment? What is the California state budget in rehab for training blind people? $25 million.
In sum, we are not saying that these systems are horrible. I advocate them on nonstandard intersections, in intersections where there is difficulty. We are just saying these things are horribly expensive. I urge the committee to look very hard at a reasonable approach because we do not want to encourage a public backlash against unfunded federal mandates that will wreck the system --
MR. CANNON: Thank you very much.
MR. BASKIN: -- and access to the whole environment.
MS. HILL: Good morning.
MR. CANNON: Welcome.
MS. HILL: Thank you. My name is Arlene Hill. I am a certified orientation and mobility specialist working at the Louisiana Center for the Blind in Ruston, Louisiana. I have been an orientation and mobility specialist for somewhat over 18 years, first in Baltimore, Maryland; now in Ruston, Louisiana.
I'm also the mother of three children, raised them as a blind parent, have done all the social things that other people have talked about previously.
Since Brian and Ramona Walhof have covered a lot of the expense area, I'll leave that alone.
We train our students by the discovery method, which means we learn to problem-solve. Part of that is listening to your environment around you, listening to what traffic is doing. Yes, sighted people can walk to an intersection and see what's around. So can blind people, if they'll take time to listen and if, number one, they were able to get really good training.
I advocate that we take the money that we're talking about to adapt the system and provide excellent training for all blind people. It would not cost nearly as much.
I want to go over a few figures that are from the Louisiana Police Department in 1999 and the year 2000, things that we as blind people need to be able to listen to or listen for, things that do happen.
Okay. Cut corners on left turns. In 1999, there were 64 injuries, zero fatalities. In 2000, there were 74 injuries, with two fatalities.
Here's the one that really could be damaging to blind persons: Disregard of traffic signals. This means people running red lights. If you do not -- if you have an uncluttered sound environment, you can listen to what engines are doing. You can hear a car not stopping, even though possibly others have stopped. So we're talking about people who run red lights. This is only in the state of Louisiana: 1999, 2,737 injuries, 46 fatalities; in the year 2000, 3,212 injuries with 45 fatalities.
Wrong turns, again, something you can hear if you have --
MR. CANNON: One more minute, please.
MS. HILL: -- you can hear if you have a nonpolluted environment. Year 1999, 404 injuries, one fatality. Not only are you asking to pollute our environment with sound that's not needed, but you're asking to take the risk of taking out taxpayers as injuries and/or fatalities that could be prevented if taught to learn to listen, to use the environment that's there now, with slopes, with asphalt streets opposed to cement sidewalks, with curbs.
Let's help blind people get better training all around and not change the environment.
When I was a child, we had square curbs. That was changed for wheelchairs. We adapted. Now we have rounded curbs. Again, we've adapted. Blind people are really pretty adaptable, all in all, and we don't need all kinds of money spent on us.
I thank you very much.
MR. CANNON: Thank you very much.
MR. McCULLY: Good morning. I prefer to stand up.
I just want to start by actually giving credit where credit is due. I actually agree with the National Federation of Blind and a couple of comments they made. One is law enforcement needs to do a lot more about illegal turns and such, and also they mentioned tactile-vibro APSs. I think all APSs should be tactile-vibros, for different reasons, for the deaf-blind people in the country, who by the way cannot hear traffic at all. So, all of this commentary about traffic noise is totally out the window for a deaf-blind person. As far as APSs go, some of the older designs definitely are loud and obnoxious. I have never actually been to an intersection where there was eight of them going on at one time. I think that must have been a function.
The newer ones, the demonstration you'll see this afternoon I actually saw last week from the same person, and if you don't want to use the APS, you don't have to because you have to push that button to activate that thing. If you are confident enough to cross the street without using the APS, then you're more than welcome to.
For those of you who are against audio description, you might want to plug your ears for a minute because I want to do a little prop here. I want to describe for the blind people in the room.
I have a deck of cards in my hand. A lot depends -- when we speak about the blind population, I think people's perception of the blind population is that they're all like the backs of a deck of card. As you can see, they're identical in every way, nondistinguishable. But when you really investigate it and you turn the cards over, you see that every single one is different.
And while it is true you can run many blind people through a quality training center in Louisiana or Colorado or whatever state you want to send them to, and a lot of them will come out with expert mobility skills, they're not all going to do it. And the initial cost of changing the environment a little bit is going to cost some money, but it isn't ongoing costs other than routine maintenance.
And for my money, the federal government wastes a lot more money on unnecessary programs that they could put into saving a few lives, and I would encourage you to consider the cost and realize that the money spent will save lives. And if we're doing bean counting and losing lives, then we're doing the wrong kind of bean counting, and we need to figure out other ways to save the money rather than at the expense of the lives of disabled people.
MR. CANNON: One minute.
MR. McCULLY: That's basically where I was going to stop right there.
MS. HANSEN: Thank you. Thank you.
Thank you. Thank you.
My name is Tina Hansen. I live at [...] in Salem, Oregon 97302. And I want to add and comment and sum up what was said.
I think that one of the issues that seems to be brought up time and time again is the need for balance and the need for moderation. I think that this is why I really believe that the approach that is advocated by the National Federation of the Blind is a very moderate approach, because it recognizes the need for safety, but it also recognizes the need that blind people need to be aware of their surroundings just as much as anyone else.
I would like to also add that I know somebody said this earlier today, that sighted people can indeed look at the intersection and find out what's happening. But so can we.
I should mention that as was also alluded, the National Federation of the Blind does operate three model training centers around the country. And I know this is probably going to be heard on radio. We have three centers. We have the one in Colorado, and we have one in Minnesota, and we have one in Louisiana.
And these centers teach the students how to work in the world as it is, because it really is a matter of coping and not a matter of crying. It has to do with an attitude adjustment.
I also believe that I think the reason that these guidelines have been adapted as they are, I really believe that for many people it's a fear of blindness. Many people just don't always really understand how blind people can negotiate the world successfully, but we can and do. And those of us -- anybody who is going to any of the training centers is already seeing that they're able to do that when they see -- they see the people at these training centers role-modelling this for the students. The students get to see that, yes, they can do it, too.
So I really believe that it's understanding is what we're fostering here, and I really believe, as I say, that a lot of the guidelines, part of it is resulting in fear. And I don't think that's the way to go, because I think that just really scares more people, not just the blind person themselves, but also I think the public tends to be -- gets a feeling of fear as well. I don't think that's what we want to foster. We really want to foster understanding.
And I really believe it is a matter of coping and not a matter of crying. So, I hope that you can recognize the position, my own position as that of the National Federation of the Blind is for the limited use of the audible traffic signals, especially the detectable warnings.
I have a problem with detectable warnings big time, in the form of the truncated domes, because a blind person when they're travelling safely can detect things in the environment via the white cane and/or via their feet. So a detectable warning is not needed. So, I hope that you'll recognize that is something to be aware of.
Thank you for taking the time to hear my comments today, and I hope that you recognize my position and take it to heart. Thank you.
MR. CANNON: Thank you very much, Ms. Hansen.
MS. WILCOX: My name is Emily Wilcox. I am an
American with disabilities.
My three requests for changes in the proposed rule are:
Number one, add the description of the blended -- of blended transition to the list of defined terms;
Number two, specify that blended transitions allow equal access for vehicular users of public rights-of-way;
Number three, either change the title of these guidelines to "accessible pedestrian public rights-of-way" or make it clear that persons with disabilities have the right of equal access both as vehicle users and as pedestrians.
People with a wide variety of disabilities cannot use roads, driveways, parking lots, and garages obstructed by speed bumps, speed humps, and other vertical deflection devices. People from around the country have communicated this problem to the Access Board staff, the public rights-of-way advisory -- access advisory committee, the USDOT and DOJ as well as state and local governments.
It is revoltingly offensive to see that the material under review today suggests that blended transitions be deformed into speed tables which the ITE describes as long, raised speed humps. All such devices are designed to modify behavior by causing pain.
I am an example of a person with a painful and degenerative disability. My experience after riding over a series of speed humps in a sedan at very low speed was excruciating pain, visual disturbance, and spasticity. My recovery was slow and required ongoing treatment by a physician.
In the dark ages before the concept of equal access, I attended school as a disabled child. When I began wearing a brace, some in the school's administration and on the staff felt that I should not remain in the local system. One of the ways they attempted to keep me out was by trying to prove that it was unsafe for me to ride the school bus. For example, during a fire drill I was forced to jump out of the back of a bus while wearing a brace that extended from my legs to the base of my skull.
Ironically, today all such small-minded people need to do to make the ride to school unsafe for orthopedically impaired students is to install bumps and humps on school bus routes. Interfering with access to education has horrible, lifelong consequences for children who are disabled. Safe transportation is a core component of this and other major life activities.
To sum up, please fix this document to protect our right to vehicular access to public rights-of-way. Thank you.
MR. CANNON: Thank you.
MR. CANNON: I want to commend all and each of the commenters this
morning. Your comments have been thoughtful, provocative, presented clearly,
well articulated, and respectfully. And it is also clear that many of our
commenters held a great passion for their convictions and at the same time
respect for views taken from theirs. For that I commend all of you.
MR. CANNON: We will be breaking for lunch, also government style.
MR. CANNON: Each of us are on our own, and we will reconvene promptly at 1:30 for additional comment period and a following open-mic session at 2:30, presentations at 3:00, and the reception at 4 o'clock. We are at recess for lunch.
(The midday recess was taken from 12:00 noon to 1:30 p.m.)
MR. CANNON: Good afternoon, everybody. If you would be seated, we'll resume this afternoon's program in 90 seconds.
MR. CANNON: Good afternoon, everybody. We'd like to resume this afternoon's session of this meeting of the United States Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board. Because of that long title, you know our short title is thought of as the U.S. Access Board. This afternoon we will resume hearing comments from those who had advance registration. We will also have an open-mic session at 2:30 this afternoon, followed by some presentations on accessible pedestrian signals and detectable warnings.
We want to remind you again of the reception in this room starting at 4 o'clock this afternoon. It will be in this room. Also, as part of the reception, we will have an awards ceremony. We hope all of you here will be able to join us for that. We remind you our reception is government style. That's with a cash bar.
It is my pleasure to introduce a gentleman with the Portland Department of Transportation who was not here this morning when I said all those nice things about his department. I will repeat some of them again. The Portland Department of Transportation really has been exemplary and a trend setter in many ways and have helped pave the way to explore the possibilities about accessible design in the public rights-of-way. Moreover, they have been very, very helpful in allowing us to access the talent and time of Jerry Marcisino, the chair of our public rights-of-way and advisory access committee. With that, it is my pleasure to introduce to you Grant Williams, the director of the Department of Transportation for the City of Portland. Mr. Williams?
MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you very much. Thank you very much, Mr. Cannon.
Good afternoon on behalf of the mayor, Vera Katz, the Portland City Council, and the office of transportation. It is my pleasure to welcome you to Portland, Oregon.
Vice Chairman Lewis, members of staff, and those of you here to testify, we're certainly honored to have you with us. We support all of you in your efforts to ensure access to facilities, government facilities, other places of public accommodation and now the public rights-of-way. Your work will help to remove the physical barriers that have hindered many of our citizens as they go about their daily life.
Accessibility in the right-of-way is necessary and important. Public rights-of-way touch all of our lives until they provide a physical connection between our homes, jobs, and essential services. But right-of-way is also more than just a conduit that allows us to move from place to place. It's also the public space where we come together to exchange ideas, to share in celebrations, and sometimes just to be in the company of others.
It's important that all of our citizens can enjoy and participate more fully in these public spaces. With the creation of Chapter 11, the public rights-of-way section of the ADA and accessibility guidelines, you will take a major step forward in delivering on the original promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
I would like to recognize the Board's Public Right-Of-Way Access Advisory Committee, or PROWAAC as it has come to be known. I want to thank this group of volunteers for all their efforts in grappling with these very complex issues and working with Access Board staff in putting together the guidance document for this broader public review.
Jerry Marcisino, as you mentioned, from our office and Ellen Vanderslice, the lead architect in developing the Portland pedestrian design guide, are both members of PROWAAC.
Over the past few years they've shared with me some of the issues the committee has had to deal with, and they have also told me what a talent and dedicated group this has been. I want you to know how much we really appreciate their work.
While the Board is here in Portland, several tours have been arranged to show you the efforts of the City of Portland and our regional transit partner, Tri-Met, that we've done as far as design and constructing accessibility features in our public rights-of-way. During these two days, you'll be escorted on a pedestrian tour of the Pearl District. This is a new, lively, inner-city residential neighborhood that also includes a wonderful mix of restaurants, cafes, shops, and parks.
You'll get to experience our recently completed Portland streetcar. We're very proud of this project. It's the first streetcar to be built in this country in the past 50 years, and so far it's doing the job much better than expected.
You will also ride on Tri-Met's nationally recognized light rail system, known as the Max. You'll also be visiting Portland's recently renovated and very accessible baseball/soccer stadium, PGE Park, and a voyage on one of our cruise ships, the Portland Spirit. This will hopefully assist the Board in how you determine how to make cruise vessels more accessible. We believe it's appropriate that Portland, which has been cited as one of America's most walkable cities, has been chosen for this committee because we hope to be known one day as one of the country's most accessible cities.
I certainly hope you enjoy your visit here in Portland. If there's anything we can do to be of assistance during your stay here, please let us know. Again, we appreciate your efforts and wish you the best in your deliberations.
Thank you very much.
MR. CANNON: Thank you very much, again, Mr. Williams.
MR. BRAY: Hello. I'm Scott Bray. I'm from Salem,
Oregon, and I'm here to talk a little about what I have seen out there as far as
the truncated domes. And I did go down and see them there at the Salem bus stop,
and I did like them as far as telling you not to go into an area that is --
should be -- you know, obviously they were there for the buses, but they don't
tell you anything about direction. And that's a lot of what blind people need,
is something that tells you which way to go.
And I think that a product that's come out by Blind Signs Incorporated is a product that's about two feet wide -- I mean two feet long, two feet wide, and they're strips that are on the ground, about four inches apart, and you can feel that with your stick when you rub across it. But they're not as high as truncated domes, which are half inch high. They're only about a quarter inch. So they don't trip you.
And what they do is they tell you which way is straight across the street. And I did realize this. I've been blind for about four or five years now. And I was up at the Blind Commission, and when I was up there, a friend of mine, that was my roommate that was staying with me -- and he not only was blind but he was almost half deaf. And he started to cross the road, and I couldn't yell at him because he couldn't hear me, that he was going diagonal across the street. There was nothing to tell him which way to cross the street.
And so I let him go across the street because I couldn't stop him, that he was halfway across. The cars luckily stopped and let him go across the street. But in another situation, it could have been a lot worse.
But if something would have been there to tell him which way was straight across the street, that would have helped him get straight across the street. But they tell you, you know, hang your toes over the edge of the curb and see which way the street goes. And when you do that, that's fine, but almost all corners are round for the cars to turn easier around the corner. They're not obviously created for blind people.
So you have to walk up the street a little bit and see which way the street goes, back down and then across the street to see which way is straight across the street.
The best way that I see is with the product that Blind Signs has created, the strips that glue onto the ground that tell you that that is the way to cross the street. It's plain and simple and very inexpensive, and I think that that's the best product that should be used in a situation like that.
Now, the truncated domes, they tell you that there is something there. They don't tell you -- there's nothing about direction, nothing about where to go or how to get across. All they do is tell you not to go there, which I agree that those can be used in a situation where you're going to go onto train tracks or something where you shouldn't go. So there is a place for them, but I don't think as much as what they're using them, trying them out, they should be used in that situation.
MR. CANNON: Thank you very much.
MR. CANNON: Appreciate you coming back this afternoon.
MR. BRAY: Thank you.
MS. NELSON: I'm Lana Nelson, in case there's any
question about that. Michael Miller there. I'm project manager for signs,
(inaudible) and tactile way-finding in Puget Sound area.
We're representing Sound Transit, the new regional transportation district created in 1996 by a vote of the public. We're also speaking today on behalf of the Northwest Transportation Coalition, made up of Sound Transit, King County Metro, Community Transit, Everett Transit, and Pierce Transit.
We'll be introducing into testimony two letters, one from the general managers of all of those agencies speaking to the new proposed rules and, secondly, one from Sound Transit as it is an accessibility advisory committee responding to the rules.
At this time we'd like to commend the Board again for being advocates for the Americans with Disabilities Act and respecting that changes are needed along the way as we learn more about improving accessibility.
Just briefly, Sound Transit has an accessibility plan. Within it, we have a mobility initiative plan. We have three lines of business: commuter rail, light rail, and express bus service. We are building approximately 65 brand-new transit facilities out of the ground and are applying all of the accessibility tools we have in hand to those new facilities.
We have adopted truncated domes to the edges of all transportation platforms: bus, commuter rail, and light rail. We've also adapted additional tactile tiles that we feel are better guidance and way-finding tools for persons who need extra help. We have a plan in place.
We have three of the new facilities actually built with the new tiles that guide people to the boarding points for all three lines of business. I don't want to go on any longer. Our time is so limited. However, I'll just introduce Michael and go from there.
MR. MILLER: Thank you. As Lana said, we have two letters to introduce. One is from the transit partner area, and I won't go through everything that they comment on, but I'll just hit some of the major notes that they had comments about.
One is alternate circulation paths at public right-of-ways. The proposed rules have it on the same side of the street as the regular circulation path, and this sometimes is not practical due to the whole right-of-way being preconstructed. We would like to see that changed to be the safest and most direct route for people to use in those situations.
The next important one is the bus route identification. Whereas the proposed rule would require both braille and raised-letter route numbers on the bus route signs, Sound Transit was ready to put signs on all of the bus stops in the region, 15,000 signs, that had the words just "bus stop" in raised-letter bus/rail to help find.
But requiring the signs to have bus/rail numbers is really impractical from a logistical standpoint. We have some bus stops that have 50 buses -- bus/rails that stop at them, and the bus service can change three times in a year. When that service changes, we will have to remake the raised-letter signs, and the logistics and the expense of that would be prohibitive.
Those are the major ones for -- from the transit part of this. Other than the detectable warnings and curb ramps, we would like to recommend a different form of detectable warnings other than truncated domes be used because we're worried about the curb ramps being confused at the edge of the boarding platform where the truncated domes are required.
From our citizens committee, we also have that same concern that the truncated domes cause confusion if they're at curb ramps or in the path -- before they go into hazardous vehicle area, can be confused with boarding areas.
The citizens committee also would like to recommend that the requirement for the raised-letter rail/bus stop sign not be enacted and that future technology be looked at. They would -- one of the things they were worried about was the clear ground space, both for protruding objects into the right-of-way and the height of things.
They would like to see the height lowered so that shorter persons who use canes to guide them would -- the protruding objects would be in the area where their cane is being swept other than being too high for it to be detected.
The clear widths for pedestrian access routes they would like to see enlarged to a minimum of 60 inches to allow for larger wheelchairs and persons who are using canes or guide dogs so they have more space to get through.
The surface gaps at rail crossings was one of the things they brought out. They would like to see this looked at more and, as a new technology develops, have that gap reduced so that at all train crossings, including freight trains, they are down to a minimum amount.
I believe -- those are the main points from these letters. We provided the Board with both of the letters, so we'll have them --
MS. NELSON: One last point before we're out of time. We did construct a light rail platform, a mock-up in the basement of our building in Seattle and brought numerous groups of folks, including Lighthouse for the Blind and various agencies representing persons with disabilities, to test out the products.
We concluded with considerable research that truncated domes should be (inaudible), in line, and a natural yellow rather than a bright yellow. The reason for that is the Paralyzed Vets of America have assured us that the domes that are set in the diamond pattern tend to set off spasms with people who have spinal injuries.
So we have adopted as a policy the in-line hexagonal truncated dome in a natural yellow rather than a bright, even though in the Northwest it always rains. The blind individuals working with us assured us they preferred a more muted yellow versus the bright yellow because it tends to cause reflection which is hard on person who have limited vision rather than those who are blind. So we've adopted that as our policy for the region and are currently working in that direction.
We thank you very much for the opportunity to comment today. We'll leave our letters with whomever you tell us to, and are available for questions should you have them.
MR. CANNON: Thank you, Ms. Nelson and Mr. Miller. That would be Scott who is the collector of the letters and written comments.
MR. McCARTHY: Good afternoon. Mr. Vice
Chairman and members of the Access Board, I am James McCarthy, assistant director of governmental affairs for the National Federation of the Blind.
My purpose in coming before you here today is to help the Access Board develop appropriate guidelines for nonvisual warnings in the public rights-of-way. To do this, I would first like to make a distinction between actual barriers and perceived barriers.
Actual barriers do exist. They are situations where nonvisual cues don't provide enough information for blind persons with ordinary training which is available to make efficient and safe street crossings. Perceived barriers are just what the term suggests. They're barriers more in the mind than in the nature of the physical surroundings.
For those who are not blind, sight seems vital. The world is full of perceived barriers to functioning without vision. This is not wrong; it is just the way it is. Perceived barriers can be eliminated with training, but actual barriers cannot.
Whether a barrier is perceived or actual is a sensitive point. Perceived barriers are at the heart of the real problem of blindness and discrimination. This is why so many blind people react with a visceral response in opposing guidelines which assume that perceived barriers are actual. Some people believe that all barriers, perceived or actual, should be addressed by access requirements. This approach is tempting for people who are not blind, since there are so many perceived barriers.
As a matter of public policy, however, it is essential to sort out the actual barriers from the perceived ones. If this is not done and elimination of perceived barriers becomes part of the guidelines, the Access Board itself becomes guilty of the discrimination it is charged with eliminating.
Blind people and local jurisdictions affected -- the jurisdictions affected will be able to support the final guidelines with genuine enthusiasm if you adopt a reasonable approach to address actual barriers. Otherwise, as in the case of the existing ADAAG requirements for detectable warnings, the new guidelines could become mired down in controversy for many years in the future. Finding the appropriate balance can avoid that kind of situation.
That said, Mr. Vice Chairman, I will next provide our recommendations for audible traffic signals and detectable warnings.
Audible traffic signals: Paragraph D of Section 501 of the ADA gives individuals with disabilities control over accepting or rejecting aids, benefits, accommodations, or services. Therefore, the Access Board's guidelines must take this into account. The standards should be to preserve individual control over accommodations unless not permitted by the nature of the accommodation, and the need to have forced use of an accommodation is compelling. In the case of audible traffic signals, the technology permits push-button activation. The accommodation does not preclude compliance with Section 501-D. Therefore, the guidelines should specify that all audible traffic signals must be pedestrian-activated.
As to location, there is ample information available for a trained blind person to cross efficiently and safely at most intersections. Therefore, rather than mandate for an audible signal wherever there is a walk/don't walk sign, the guidelines should preserve some degree of discretion with specific criteria. The criteria would be used by traffic engineers to make an informed choice to install or not to install audible signals unrelated to the mere presence or absence of a walk/don't walk sign.
With the exercise of discretion, it is conceivable that audible signals should be placed at some locations where there are no walk/don't walk signs. Permitting some flexibility in the guidelines based on evaluation of circumstances would help to avoid an unacceptably rigid -- unacceptably rigid application.
Regarding locator tones, this is a situation where a forced accommodation can have serious unintended consequences. The purpose of these tones is audible pole location, but poles are identifiable, fixed objects quickly found with a cane or dog guide. Placing a sound on every pole is certainly not essential for access.
The compromise of safety resulting from a competition among sounds, locator tones added in, is serious.
MR. CANNON: One minute, please.
MR. McCARTHY: For detectable warnings, a standard of one in 12 is reasonable for the installation of curb ramps. However, such a standard does not relate to the detect -- to detectability of the warnings. The one in 15 standard that we propose is flat enough that most people -- many people may be unable to locate them. Therefore, a detectable warning is appropriate.
If you -- I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you. And a careful, thoughtful approach to these questions would be most helpful. Thank you.
MR. CANNON: Mr. McCarthy, we thank you very, very much for your thoughtful comments.
MR. CAMPEN: Good afternoon. My name is Tim Campen. I'm here representing the City of San Diego.
By way of background of who I am, I'm one of those people everyone loves: I'm a lawyer. And you might think, what is a lawyer doing at a hearing like this? Well, invariably whenever we have regulations that regulate how cities and local governments must comply with federal regulations, lawyers get involved.
It is my hope that the final rules as they -- as they come down will limit the amount of lawyers who get involved. And by doing this -- the way to do this is through greater clarity and specificity within the regulations as they're proposed. We realize that they're in a draft form now, but greater specificity will encourage compliance.
Specifically, where there is a lack of specificity on what it means to comply with particular regulations, there becomes differences in opinion as to their interpretation. Whenever you have a difference in interpretation, that leads to -- well, it's a fancy word for a lawsuit.
When the lawyers get involved, it becomes very expensive, and the more expensive compliance becomes, well, there becomes a chilling effect on compliance. By having greater specificity and clarity as to what it means to be compliant will encourage municipalities, counties, and state governments to do what the regulations require.
Now, how is this going to be achieved? I'd like to examine a few specifics. First of all, Section 1101.3, the defined terms. There needs to be more terms that are defined, and I'd like to touch on just a few.
First of all, the triggers for when compliance is required. Things like alterations, additions, and new construction need to be clearly defined within 1101.3. This will -- referring to other areas of the ADAAG for what an alteration is is currently inadequate. Right now if we look somewhere else, it applies to buildings and structures. The specifics to a right-of-way are very unique, and there need to be more defined terms that are specific and unique to Chapter 11, especially alterations. We need to know exactly when an alteration is achieved so that we have a triggering effect of having to comply.
Without more specificity as to what an alteration is, places like the City of San Diego are put in a very rough spot. We don't know whether we're required to comply or not comply, and whether we do or don't, again, it leads to what we don't want, and that is a bunch of lawyers getting involved.
Next is we need a definition for "block face." And I'll talk a little bit about this in just a moment. But in an area like downtown Portland or downtown San Diego, where you have square blocks on a grid system, it's very easy to -- we can all pretty much agree what a block face is. But in irregular areas what might be a block face here in downtown Portland could extend for seven or eight block faces in another area. What is a block face? We need to know that so we know how to comply. Finally, a clear definition with examples of what it means to be technically infeasible is necessary specifically for Chapter 11. For example, the existence of subsurface utilities can affect the placement of a pole, for example. Is that considered technically infeasible? We don't know. And looking through the rest of the ADAAG doesn't really give us the guidance that we need to be able to be compliant.
Need to also take into consideration existing geographical condition, and maybe things that may not be necessarily technically infeasible, but what role do the legal concepts such as eminent domain play? If compliance requires acquiring greater right-of-way through the use of eminent domain, it puts municipalities in a very difficult position.
In other words, if we use eminent domain, we're going to get sued by the property owners, and if we don't use eminent domain, we'll be sued by those who want us to have greater right-of-way.
Without specificity as to what it means to be technically infeasible, it's inviting challenges which, again, will have a chilling effect on compliance. I'd like to touch on 1102.14 which requires there be one disabled parking space on each block face. Again, we need to know what a block face is in order to comply. This tends to be -- in certain areas, like downtown San Diego, only have one or two parking spaces in the whole block face. Is it the desire of the Board to have at least one of those comply with these provisions? Or should we maybe look at the other parts of the ADAAG which require roughly a ratio of parking lots of one in 25 disabled parking spaces for every 25 parking spaces in parking lots?
The question is, you know, is this meant to apply to this degree? And also is it meant to apply to residential areas? In the city of San Diego, when people in residential areas would like a disabled parking spot near their residence, they simply ask and we provide it. We mark it, we sign it, and we provide that disabled parking space. We would ask that residential areas be exempted since we are applying this where it's needed anyway.
With regard to 1105.5, elevators for pedestrian overpasses and underpasses, the City has a very real safety concern. There may be some question as to whether there is a safety concern. It's been our experience anytime you have an enclosed, unobservable area where people will periodically frequent -- in other words, there aren't always a lot of people there, especially at night -- it presents a very clear security concern for anybody who's going to be there.
You also have the issues of maintenance. Often these elevators would be located in areas where there just isn't anybody around. And in the city of San Diego, unfortunately, like all major cities, we have a relatively large homeless population. It's our belief every time areas like this are provided, they become a temporary home for the homeless, which will necessarily discourage the use of the elevators, and we're not getting any closer to providing accessibility.
In our written comments we'll provide alternatives, but perhaps something greater than a five-foot elevation should be the trigger.
I'd like to speak about roundabouts just for a moment. I'm not going to go into the details of it, but the effect of the regulations as proposed will effectively regulate them out of existence. The vast majority of roundabouts are designed to be a unsignalized traffic-calming device. I'm not saying it's a good idea or it's a bad idea; I'm just saying the way it's proposed will regulate them out of existence effectively.
If that's the goal of the Board, then so be it. That's fine. But understanding I think is critical.
Section 1111, the alternate circulation route. The previous -- it was spoken about just by a speaker before me. We agree that with that, providing an alternate circulation route on the same side of the street should have clear exceptions, specifically, where it is safer to be on the opposite side of the street. There are large construction projects where it simply isn't practical to have this access on the same side of the street.
Furthermore, there are times in relatively narrow auto traffic areas where providing -- go ahead.
MR. CANNON: One minute.
MR. CAMPEN: Thank you.
-- where providing accessibility on the same side of the street will cause a need to divert traffic and detour traffic, which creates more traffic problems. It throws -- it potentially creates more of a safety hazard. So, when safety is concerned, there needs to be more clear exemptions and exceptions to these alternate routes.
Finally, it is the hope of the City of San Diego that in clearing up and providing greater specificity and clarification as to the intent, there are as many pages of background and discussion in the proposed guidelines as there are guidelines themselves, and those discussions provide a great deal of insight as to how to interpret. But in the final draft, they won't exist.
We are hoping that a lot of those sentiments and reasons for why these rules are being proposed are integrated into the final draft or the final regulations. This will allow greater interpretation.
I hate to say it, but eventually the courts are going to decide a lot of these issues, and I have a lot more faith in this Board to decide what is in the best interest of disabled people than I do in the courts. And greater -- greater specificity, greater clarity will go a long way in aiding compliance and allowing the City of San Diego to meet the needs of its disabled community.
Thank you very much.
MR. CANNON: Thank you.
MR. CANNON: Mr. Campen, we thank you.
MR. LEE: Can everybody hear me okay? Okay. My name
is Robert Lee, and I'm from Las Vegas, Nevada, 8[...]. And I want to speak on a
couple of issues about audible signals and curb cuts. As many of you see, I'm
rolling around in a three-wheel scooter, and I have cerebral palsy. I'm also
statutorily blind. With my wife that has cerebral palsy, we go out and about and
go on the city bus and use the fixed-route bus with lifts and very little --
very rarely do we use paratransit.
I am here representing Disabled Rights Action Committee. That's out of Salt Lake City, Utah. And the lawyers spoke to me today and yesterday that they're having trouble with the paratransit: that when the scooters are larger, they won't -- they won't fit on the lifts, so they're not being certified. They even use paratransit in Salt Lake City on the bigger scooters.
My scooter is 48 inches long and it is 23 inches wide, and I specifically wanted a narrow one so I can get on and off of the bus and use that city bus.
Now, when I go across the street, I can get across a little bit faster, but when I do walk with my crutch, it takes me seven and one-half seconds to cross in front of each car. So if I'm going to cross eight car lanes, it's going to take me 60 seconds to get across that street.
So what -- my recommendation is you have seven and one-half seconds for each car lane when you can function -- I'm also asking the City of Las Vegas to work something double-fold.
Now, they're putting a lot of audible signals, and I know that's a very pricely, costly thing, but we sure don't want to go back to just have four-way stop signs everywhere and no street lights. I mean, that would cost less, but it would slow down the traffic quite a bit. But -- so you wouldn't also want to put audible signals every other street light and make somebody go double the distance to use that audible signal.
So what I'm proposing, since there's heavy traffic in -- in some city, like a small New York City that Las Vegas is, that we get seven and one-half seconds across or a full 60 seconds for eight car lanes or 60 seconds -- it would be 15 seconds blinking and 45 seconds to -- I'm sorry. 15 -- it would be 15 seconds solid walk time and 45 seconds blinking so you could have enough time to get across that street. Now, if it's six lanes, that would be 45 seconds, 15 and 30.
Okay. Now, on the -- also, there's no easement laws in Nevada. So that puts all of the sidewalks all up on the curb. And this gentleman who spoke earlier this morning about where the person -- the couple was walking in the street, I just -- that hit home with me. But many places there's no sidewalk to walk on, and then I run into a problem that way, and then I go out into the driveway that is slanted and I have to be careful there. And the curb cuts I think should be textured in such a way that I find it so I don't bounce off the curb and tip over, which I have sometimes.
And so it should be light enough to be in the corner similar to this picture. This is a picture of Third Avenue and 11th Street in Minneapolis, Minnesota. There is two curb cuts on each corner there. So the person goes this way or goes that way. That means left -- north or south or east or west. And if we get something that is uniform across this country, we wouldn't run into such a problem with, well, can you do this and you can't do that.
So, my recommendation, like I said, is to have something where I would be able to roll over something and know exactly where I'm going before I get to it. And there -- also, where there are joints, I have to use vision to find the joints of the sidewalks.
Now, I want to emphasize, I have one good hand and one bad hand and not real good legs, so I -- so I'm not able to use the cane to function. I have to pretty much depend on sight. So, I would appreciate that you would give my recommendations to be a longer time, and then you would push the -- instead of the signal, would be like I said, seven seconds -- I'm sorry -- 15 and -- 15 and 45, that would only work when it would be worked as the audible portion, not when it was -- somebody would just push it on a normal basis.
Okay. If anybody has any questions, they can talk to me, and I'll be glad to give them my address to talk to them.
MR. CANNON: Mr. Lee?
MR. LEE: This is my wife, Carol, that wants to say something.
MR. CANNON: Okay. We have about a minute left.
MR. LEE: What's that?
MR. CANNON: One minute left.
MR. LEE: Oh, yeah, the curbs -- the cuts are not even, so she has to go up backwards across the -- across the street.
And -- what else?
To get up?
You have to go backwards to go up the curb, all the time I hear somebody say, just all the time. And so if everything was just uniform and even and textured, I'd at least be able to find it and I wouldn't be able to roll off these curbs. And let's get the sidewalks at least six feet wide and not run into a problem in there being obstacles -- obstacles in the way.
It depends on the ways the cut is, that she tips over sometimes. Okay. Thank you very much.
MR. CANNON: Mr. Lee, we thank you very much for traveling here and sharing your comments.
MR. CAMERON: Mr. Vice Chairman, ladies and
gentlemen, thank you for the opportunity to address the Board today. My name is
John Cameron, city civil design engineer for the City of Memphis, Tennessee. I'm
in charge of city street improvements.
So it's with great interest I've been following these guidelines and how they will impact the city. The City of Memphis is committed to improving access for people with disabilities. All new construction and all street improvement projects include installation of curb ramps as per the ADA.
Above and beyond that, which is merely complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act, we have a program under my administration to install curb ramps on our city streets not in conjunction with other improvements. Under this one program, the last three years we have installed over 3,000 curb ramps. We have committed to installing 1,000 curb ramps a year for the foreseeable future.
This year we have $1.9 million budgeted to this program. Next year, $2.5 million. In all, the City has committed to capital investment of nearly $6 million a year over each of the next four years beyond the basic requirements of ADA.
To put this investment in perspective, the total capital budget for the division of housing and community development for the current fiscal year is $3.5 million. All this to say the City of Memphis is aggressively committed to providing improved access to our citizens with impairments. I recognize that the compilation of these guidelines is a daunting task. It is expected that DOJ will adopt these guidelines currently being commented on as the basis for the regulations and, in effect, the guidelines we're discussing will become the law of the land.
While preparing detailed comments for submittal, I'm here today primarily to express my concern to the proposed guideline as written will have some unintended consequences. Primarily, I'm concerned that the draft guidelines fail to explicitly give designers flexibility to design improvements. The draft guidelines fail to differentiate between the requirements for new construction, requirements for alterations of existing facilities, and there is a general lack of clarity as to how the guidelines should be applied.
I am pleased to hear that a PROWAAC subcommittee is investigating how to clarify the technical application of the guidelines for alterations within the driveway. I would also request the subcommittee investigate how to provide some flexibility to application of the guidelines beyond the rationale of technical and feasibility and that the guidelines be clarified as to their application wherever possible.
As the draft guidelines are written, I fear the unintended net result may be an overall reduction of public safety in cases where a governmental agency is reluctant to deal with a safety concern because of an inability to address all the requirements of the guidelines.
Some of the other people who have testified today have alluded to this concern. The public rights-of-ways have many users and functions: pedestrians, personal vehicles, commercial vehicles, public transit, public drainage, and utilities to name a few.
There are a myriad of agencies, industries, and private interest groups that all have input into how the rights-of-ways are configured and used. Design is guided by government regulations as well as conceptual design practice. The inflexibility of the draft guidelines may work at cross-purposes to the interests and indeed the safety of some of the other users of the right-of-way.
Let me address some specific concerns, one of which was just addressed by Mr. Campen. It was the definition of technical and feasibility.
I'll skip over that.
In a similar manner, the draft guidelines are vague as to the scope of renovations required when an existing right-of-way is altered. Discussions accompanying the notice of availability of draft code rights-of-ways accessibility guidelines state the draft guidelines consistent with ADAAG would apply technical requirements according to the scope of work plan for an operation or addition. In effect, compliance is prorated based on the extent of the work plan.
While this may be the intent of the Board as stated in the commentary, it is not made clear in the guidelines themselves. Fortunately, the DOJ operates under the premise of maximum usability of the facility. According to DOJ regulations 28 CFR 35.151, each facility, part of a facility altered by, on behalf of, or for the use of a public entity that affects or could affect the usability of the facility or part of the facility shall, to the maximum extent feasible, be altered in such a manner that the altered portion of the facility is readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.
My concern is that based on DOJ's premise, if one element of, say, a crosswalk is altered, all other elements of a crossing will have to be brought into compliance with the guidelines.
As an example, if an existing traffic signal timing were adjusted to accommodate the walking speed of three feet per second, a relatively simple task to accomplish, would the signal also be required to be retrofitted with audible indicators? To carry it further, would curb ramps be required to be installed or upgraded to current standards of the plan? Would the crosswalk crossload have be modified to conform with the criteria proposed by the draft guidelines?
These measures would seem to run contrary to the Board's intent. However, under DOJ regulations, it may be required. In fact, many municipalities may not be aware that a court has already ruled that repaving of the street represents an alteration of the right-of-way that requires installation of curb ramps where none already exist.
This decision was based on the premise that the usability to the general public was improved and therefore access to mobility impairment should be provided. This is why clarity in the guidelines is required.
Municipalities are under tremendous fiscal pressures and pressures from private industries which affect how many tough decisions are made concerning the needs of the community. Providing the same degree of access can be achieved in two ways: by meeting the requirements of the guidelines of new and altered projects or, alternatively, by not doing the project.
Currently, the City of Memphis requires installation of sidewalks on all but the lowest traffic volume streets. It may be decided that other categories of streets will no longer be required to be built with sidewalks. Construction of new pedestrian overpasses may become a rare thing, as mentioned previously today.
Installation and upgrades to traffic signals may be postponed or dropped altogether. On-street parking may be prohibited.
MR. CANNON: One minute.
MR. CAMERON: In conclusion -- I will be submitting detailed written comments, but for today, I would once again ask for some flexibility to be written into the guidelines that requirements for new and altered construction be delineated and that the guidelines generally be clarified in the application.
MR. CANNON: Thank you, Mr. Cameron.
MR. YARNELL: I'm Wayne Yarnell, and I'm from
Corvallis, Oregon. I've been a part of our access Benton County group there for
14 years. I'm one of the -- recently on the downtown Corvallis parking
First, I have a real brief thing about curb ramps, and somebody may have already talked about this this morning, but we have a few curb ramps like this picture I found that shows -- they're coming straight out square. There's no curve or flare on the curb ramps. They just come out right square to the road. And we have an example where they've done that, and there's a disabled parking spot parallel to the sidewalk that's right there, and you're going to get out of the car and trip over this protruding curb trying to get onto the curb ramp. But I can't find anything in the specs that says there's anything wrong with those kind of curb ramps.
If you look in pictures of specs, there's always a radius or a flare, and the specs don't have any pictures of these square-faced curb interfaces. I don't know what they're called.
Okay. I would like to just compliment the work on the -- primarily the downtown -- the downtown parking ideas of a spot on every block face, and particularly making all diagonal and parallel perpendicular spots van-accessible. It's been my experience that that's absolutely essential because we so much focus on wheelchairs when we worry about parking, but there's the people that walk with the canes who can't walk very far, and they're going to take the closest parking spot to where they're going to go regardless of the kind of spot they need.
This idea of statistics, of minimal -- so many vans, we don't need van-accessible spots all the way. Just plain doesn't work with distributed parking spots. So I'd like to just agree with the specs on that.
Particularly, on the issue of diagonal or angular van-accessible spots, I believe we need to have some work done on looking at what kind of spec really should apply. Basically, right now you just take the perpendicular spec and say the same thing applies to diagonal.
But the way -- when you go diagonally, you start changing the angles to the line of traffic, and like on my van, I have the switches inside the back door of my van, so I have to get out of -- on my lift, and actually my lift in one case I will actually blindly pull into traffic because my van is hiding my space, and the space to get off my van goes off into the traffic lane. Then I have to swing around behind my vehicle, again in the traffic lane, trying to open the door and use the switches.
There's also other people -- there's rear-lift vans where people actually get out on the rear, and then other people will store their three-wheel cart in the back of the van. So they need access there.
So it's my contention when you start going angular, you've got to increase the length of the spot to provide the clearance in the back as the corner of the van sticks more out into the street. And there actually is no spec for length of parking space anywhere, actually. So it's a little bit complicated.
I did work out with one of our engineers in Corvallis -- we came up with a spec where we actually did cut into the sidewalk to make the angular van -- angular spot longer. So, I'm not sure. That's maybe something you can't figure out a spec because it's confusing.
Anyway, thank you, and good work.
MR. CANNON: Thank you, Mr. Yarnell.
MR. STEWART: Thank you, Mr. Cannon and members
of the Board. Kent Stewart. My address is [...], Warrick, New York. I'm here
representing myself who, as a legally blind person, for life I've logged tens of
thousands of miles as a pedestrian, since I don't have good enough vision to
drive a car. I'm also the president of the Metropolitan Council of Low Vision
Individuals, and I'm also representing our parent organization, which is the
Council of Citizens With Low Vision International.
With the very little time I have, I want to first offer some rebuttal testimony to that you've heard from several people who, in my opinion, are a bit misinformed or uninformed on some of these guidelines, and then, if there's time, offer a little corroboration about what you heard this morning about the importance of visual contrast and lighting for low-vision people.
The accessible pedestrian signals that are now recommended in the guidelines are a very smart device, and if anybody takes the time to read the guidelines, they'll see that there are very specific requirements for those APSs. For one thing, the woman who was confused in San Diego will not be confused by an APS because they're very specific. The guidelines are very clear that audible sounds cannot be ambiguous. They must be obvious and very specific about which crosswalk they're saying it's okay to cross now. So they're not ambiguous.
People who are concerned about noise pollution and about people being kept awake at night because they live near them don't have to worry about that, either. The new generation of APSs are very local. They're designed to be heard only within a very few feet of the site of starting your crossing or finishing your crossing.
For those people who seem to be a little shy about admitting that they need some extra help, they prefer to be secretly disabled, you can be secretly disabled and still take advantage of an APS.
I'm told that the president of the National Federation of the Blind, when he went to Europe, he experienced some European cities, that I have, too, and they're just considered a part of life there and very routine. He came back acknowledging that they can be quite valuable.
Typically it's a soft tick when you're not supposed to cross. When the walk sign is on, it's a frequent clicking noise. You hear it right near it, and then as you're approaching the other side, you hear it again, so it becomes a beacon to get you across the street. So it's not at all a social stigma to take advantage of that.
And in terms of the cost, several people seemed to worry it was going to break the bank. They're not expensive at all.
Share an experience I had --
MR. CANNON: One minute, please.
MR. STEWART: Several years ago, in a meeting with the Manhattan borough commissioner of transportation, I was trying to persuade them that they're really not very expensive. I said, you can get them for about $300.
He revealed himself to be a true Manhattanite who likes to brag about never paying full retail price for anything. He turned to me and said, I can get them for $195.
You multiply that by eight -- one of these at each end of each crosswalk at a four-way intersection -- you're talking about not much money at all compared to 30,000, 50,000, $80,000 to signalize a four-way intersection. It's really not much money at all.
Same principle applies to detectable warnings which are replacing curbs. Curbs are extremely important for many people who don't see well. It tells the border between safe pedestrian territory and dangerous territory. Extremely important. If you take away those curbs, give us something else that's both visually and tactilely detectable.
New York City just agreed to spend $218 million to put in lots of curb ramp. That's great for everybody that needs those curb ramps. If they put them in properly with detectable warnings, it's not going to show up. So the people worried about the money, I think they're putting the decimal points in the wrong place.
MR. CANNON: Thank you, Mr. Stewart.
MS. SHAQUILLE: Good afternoon. My name is
Sumara Shaquille, and I'm with the National Federation of the Blind. I am an
orientation and mobility instructor for the Colorado Center for the Blind. And
my address is [...] Littleton, Colorado.
As a blind person living in a large city setting, it is vital for me to travel in many different areas, both familiar and unfamiliar, in which I will encounter a variety of intersection types. As an orientation and mobility instructor, I teach my blind students the nonvisual techniques that are needed to cross safely and efficiently at various intersection types, having complex patterns, and to locate drop-offs and obstacles in the environment. Such intersections include angled intersections, "T" intersections, intersections having turn islands, and so forth.
My students cross at these intersections on a daily basis using their long, white canes, coupled with reasoning skills and traffic cues. We use position-of-traffic flow to maintain a line of direction while crossing the street and changes in traffic patterns to determine when it is appropriate to make a crossing.
The vast majority of intersections which we encounter are not equipped with audible traffic signals, yet we are able to cross at these intersections day after day without event. APSs, which we encounter on occasion, are proven to be of little assistance as these tones often mask sounds of turning traffic and do not provide the necessary cues for maintaining a line of direction while crossing the street.
As I have mentioned, my students often travel in unfamiliar areas in which it is not possible to anticipate drop-offs and obstacles in the environment until they have been located with a cane. Yet my students are able to locate these drop-offs in plenty of time to stop or make any adjustments in the course of travel in the absence of detectable warning.
In fact, I find that detectable warnings often prevent the cane from easily gliding to the edge of the drop-off. They also have the potential to trip women in high-heel shoes and obstruct wheelchair wheels, and this poses a safety hazard to all pedestrians and travelers.
The cost --
MR. CANNON: One minute, please.
MS. SHAQUILLE: -- of installation of audible traffic signals and detectable warnings is significant, as has been stated earlier. It is our belief that the blind would better be served if these funds intended for such technology would be dedicated to improving training for the blind. We want the ability to adapt to our environment and not our environment to adapt to us.
MR. CANNON: Thank you.
MR. CANNON: Dr. Riles, if we were giving a prize for the individual
who traveled the greatest distance, you just might be the winner today. Welcome
DR. RILES: Thank you, sir.
Good afternoon. I'm Dr. Ruby Riles, coordinator of professional development with Louisiana Tech University's Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness.
The graduate students in our programs earn Master's degrees in teaching orientation mobility and are employed as certified O and M instructors across the United States. Most of our graduates are themselves blind. In fact, Ms. Shaquille is one of our graduates.
Our institute wishes to go on record as opposing sweeping regulations that mandate audible signals and detectable warnings at intersections. Because we are in the business of training orientational ability instructors, we are profoundly cognizant of issues involved in the independent travel of blind people.
Even with minimal training, the vast majority of intersections in the United States can be traversed and are traversed daily by most sighted people. If the intersections in the vicinity of this hotel are indicative of the intersections that the Board is looking at to retrofit, my advice is to save your money. These intersections are especially simple to cross as is.
As you have heard from earlier speakers, the retrofitting of these crossings is not only unnecessary but is likely to render them hazardous for most blind travellers who have received training in independent travel. It is crucial, as you know, for blind pedestrians to hear the sounds of traffic. There are no statistical data to prove the effectiveness or the need for these signals. The use of your community's financial resources to install and maintain them is unwise and unwanted by many of the very population that they're intended to serve.
How much more effective and economical to use your financial resources to provide all of Portland's blind citizens with good travel training, so that they can cross streets in Omaha, Cleveland, Wichita, Miami, or a hundred other cities where there are no such signals. There may well be a few signals -- a few intersections in Portland where audible signals are appropriate, but the decision to adapt these intersections needs to be on a case-by-case basis and always -- and I underscore the word "always" -- always, always look to the blind consumers for direction on which intersections need adaptations.
In conclusion, the Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness urges the Board not to adopt a false sense of security regarding the safety of blind citizens by using these very expensive modifications to the local environment. The only way that blind people are truly safe in travelling is when they have received good, independent travel training. Change the training because it's impossible to make the world barrier-free for the blind.
MR. CANNON: Our next commenter will be Elsie Lind. Ms. Lind, welcome.
MS. LIND: Thank you, sir. And thank you to the Board for letting us make our comments.
My name's Elsie Lind. I live in Pocatello, Idaho, at [...]. I have been blind for 27, 28 years, and have travelled all over the United States and in several foreign countries. I have been most frustrated in cities where there are audible traffic signals.
I have worked as an independent living advisor at Independent Living Center. I serve on the community access committee. I serve on the job access research committee, which definitely deals with transportation for people with disabilities. And the biggest issue among the disability community is transportation.
If you take the kind of funds out of the funding for the Department of Transportation and put them into audible traffic signals, then there will not be as much access for people with disabilities, all disabilities, to communities that they live in because there will be less money for bus services, there will be less money for road repairs, there will be less money for transportation in general. And I strongly oppose the usage of money in such a way that will actually limit access to people with disabilities.
I am a member of the National Federation of the Blind. I am a very recent member of the National Federation of the Blind. I only joined about three and a half years ago. I serve as a chapter president in my local city, which is a city of about 100,000 people, in the metropolitan area. I also have a lot of consumers in my group that are from outlying cities that are less than 2,000 in population.
I have talked with many of them, and in travelling around the different parts of the United States, it is so much easier to have good training because then you can go anywhere in the United States you want to and you can access places like Yellowstone Park, where there aren't audible traffic signals, but you can still get around where you need to go and you can still have access to the whole -- the whole community and everything that you want to access.
But if you have -- if you become dependent on audible traffic signals and you don't have the proper training, then you have a crutch that you don't need, and it limits you to where you can go.
I would recommend to this Board as a personal citizen and as a member of the National Federation of the Blind that you look at the access that needs to be available to people with all disabilities and not put so much money into an area that will actually limit the kind of access that we all need, which is transportation.
MS. McQUILLAN: No. I'm not Nathaniel Wells. He
had an airplane to catch because he had scheduled his flight before he realized
what the committee's ultimate position on time was. Is it all right if I speak
on his behalf?
MR. CANNON: You are?
MS. McQUILLAN: I would be Carla McQuillan, from Springfield, Oregon.
MR. CANNON: Carla McQuillan, welcome.
MS. McQUILLAN: Okay. Thank you.
As I said, my name is Carla McQuillan. I live in Springfield, Oregon. I'm the president of the National Federation of the Blind of Oregon, and as some of you may have noted, kind of spearheaded a little demonstration we had going on out in the street.
And it's one of the things that I wanted to mention, we have for the better part of the day had a number of blind people, and we were very cautious to select those who had very limited or no vision at all because I know there tends to be some discussion regarding partially sighted folk and their abilities versus those who are totally blind, have been crossing and recrossing the street corners out here at Taylor and Sixth.
And one of the things that they noted was that they were capable of crossing those streets without event, even though there are no audible traffic signals. And the only time that there appeared to be a problem was when a sighted gentleman stepped out in front of a bus to shout to our blind folks who were standing waiting for the traffic to change that he did not want them to step out into traffic.
MS. McQUILLAN: My observation as a blind individual -- and I do have a great deal of residual vision. I have peripheral vision. I was not trained to travel effectively as a blind individual until I attended the Colorado Center for the Blind and did my travel training under sleep shades so that all of the travel instruction I received was without the benefit of any vision at all.
And what I will tell you is I've listened to some of the low-vision folks who have talked about high contrast of the colors in the street to detect, and I'm here to tell you that having travelled under sleep shades and acquired the type of training necessary for me to pick up cues in my environment strictly by the tactile sense that was coming through my cane and also the auditory cues and input that I received, I am a much safer traveller today than I ever was using any of my residual vision.
And I think it is critical that people who are low vision recognize that to use vision that is failing and not an efficient means of collecting information from their environment is incredibly dangerous and that I think if we put in these audible traffic signal -- I was speaking to a travel instructor just this morning who said that she hates taking her students on travel routes where there are audible traffic signals because what happens is when the signal goes off, the student jumps into the street thinking it's their turn to cross, even if there are cars that are making right-hand turns or other situations in the intersection, such as a car that literally isn't stopping for the lights.
They're not listening. They're relying on signals that may or may not actually –
MR. CANNON: One minute, please.
MS. McQUILLAN: Thank you.
-- reflect what the traffic is doing. The other point that I would like to raise is here in Portland, there is an incredible transportation system, as there is in my area of Eugene-Springfield, Lane County. However, in a lot of communities -- Bend, for example, here in Oregon, is the largest city west of the Mississippi River without a fixed route transit system. If we were to spend our money on audible traffic signals rather than putting that same amount which comes from the same pot into better transportation systems, our blind individuals would be more employable because they would be more readily available to travel across town to get jobs.
And here in the National Federation of the Blind, we believe that working is the best therapy for a blind person, to be a full participant in society.
Thank you so much.
MS. BROCK: Good afternoon. Thank you for giving us
this opportunity to speak. My name is Carolyn Brock. I live at [...] in
I'm a new Portlander. I moved here just over a year ago, and like many of your other speakers, I'm a member of the National Federation of Blind. I lived in Missoula, Montana, for many hundreds of years and was 100 percent opposed to audible traffic signals. In fact, our group succeeded in shutting down the one signal that was put in near the rehabilitation agency at no one's request, when we took the traffic engineers out there and said, what are you doing? This is an easy intersection.
Since I've come to Portland, I have found one intersection in particular, not in Portland but in Vancouver, near where my two daughters live, where I have to cross out of a bus transit center that I cannot cross because there is not an audible traffic signal, and it's the one place I have found that I would welcome something. But I can show you about a hundred places on the eastside of Portland where there are inappropriately used audible traffic signals. I'm glad that you're going to get a tour of our very wonderful city and get on the public transportation. I've heard Mr. Williams of the city invite you to do that. The Pearl District is a fabulous area of the best kind of urban renewal.
You'll ride the Max. You'll ride the Portland streetcar. You're going for a boat ride. That stuff's all great. Hope you have a wonderful time. But those aren't places that most Portlanders live.
And what you will not see is the very fabulous bus system that goes not to the museums and to the zoo and to the airport but to residential areas where people live and business districts, the eastside in particular, which is a huge area of Portland.
And on the eastside, I have encountered -- I probably should have counted them -- a shocking number of audible traffic signals at easy intersections. I would invite you to take bus number four over on Fifth Avenue. It goes right past my house and goes out -- way, way, way out to Southeast 122nd and Division where I change buses to go visit my mother, who lives farther north off of 122nd. It was the first one I encountered.
In fact, when we moved to Portland -- first of all, let's me say, it's an easy intersection. I don't know. Six lanes of traffic, eight lines. Lots of traffic. Tons of traffic going every direction, every hour of the day or night. It's very, very easy. There are left turn lanes. There are straight-aheads. I mean, it's just one of those easy intersections because there is always traffic going every way.
Last year when I moved here, the first time I went to cross it I stood there, thought, oh, no problem. The light's going to change. I know what to do. And as the light changed, screech, right in my ear. And on those old signals, I mean, I will not step out into the street.
MR. CANNON: One more minute, please.
MS. BROCK: That signal, as of about a month ago, has been taken out, replaced with one of the new ones that is so quiet that in heavy traffic you can't hear it. I don't find that objectionable, except that it's money spent. And I don't care if it's $5,000 or $500 or $5, it's too much money to spend for nothing, at an easy intersection that can be crossed with no problem.
I hope you get out and see more of our city than just the most beautiful parts. Look at some good examples. Look at some bad examples. And look in particular at ways that we can be better spending our tax money for all kinds of things that we need here in Oregon, here in Portland, as well as everywhere else, on something besides even a few dollars at every one of the million intersections for something that's not needed.
Thank you very much. And thanks for coming to Portland.
MR. POMERANS: Good afternoon. My name is Mitch
Pomerans, and I live at [...] Pasadena, California 91106. And I am representing
the American Council of the Blind. I'm a member of the board of directors, and
I'm also the ADA compliance officer for the City of Los Angeles.
Today I am speaking on behalf of ACB. We applaud the Access Board for your fine work in developing draft guidelines for accessible public rights-of-way. Such guidelines are long overdue, and it is our hope that the recommendations contained in this draft will be retained in a speedily promulgated final rule.
Of particular concern to the members of ACB are those provisions dealing with the installation of detectable warning surfaces at curb ramps and rail crossings, the installation of accessible pedestrian signals, and those proposed guidelines related to enhancing the visual contrast of signage and walking surfaces at stairs. We are pleased with the Access Board's recommendations on these items and have a few comments regarding our reasons for this position.
The Board provided that detectable warnings should be installed on all curb ramps and blended transitions and asked for comments on whether they should be used on -- should be used only when the ramp slope is one in 15 or less. It is our view that this change would not be an improvement to accessibility.
The purpose of the detectable warning surface is to warn of the approach to a street, not the presence of a ramp. Therefore, it is not the slope of the ramp that determines their necessity.
And we agree with the recommendation of the Access Board. We also agree with the Access Board in asserting the need for accessible pedestrian signals at street crossings that are equipped with pedestrian signals, and thank the Board for including the detailed specifications in its draft guidelines for appropriate location, installation, and functionality of these signals.
The Board rightly recognizes that technological developments in this area have made accessible pedestrian signals a valuable addition to the accessible environment. We support and encourage their use as a means of enhancing the safety of blind and visually impaired users of the public right-of-way.
I want to digress briefly to say that in my role as the City of Los Angeles ADA compliance officer, I know what it costs to install accessible pedestrian signals. My friends and colleagues in the NFB seemed to have moved the decimal place. The average cost is $400, not 4,000.
We just concluded our ADA transition plan for the City of Los Angeles, and over the past three years we installed 22,500 curb ramps at an average cost of $1100. It's interesting that no one complained about spending that kind of money on curb ramps. I think blind people deserve at least the same access and the same civil rights as our colleagues and friends who use wheelchairs.
I would also say that while in the best of all worlds all blind people would have appropriate training, the reality is that the vast majority of blind people are over 70 years of age, including my mother who is 82 and losing her vision. She and the vast majority of older blind people will get no training ever.
We at ACB plan to submit additional written comments prior to the October 28th deadline as will I in my capacity with the city of Los Angeles.
Thank you all very much.
MR. CANNON: Thank you.
MR. MOBLEY: Ladies and gentlemen, members of the
Board, I do want to thank you for the opportunity for letting me speak to you
today. I don't represent the National Federation of the Blind. I don't represent
the American Council of the Blind. I'm representing me. A lot less people to
worry about. I'm speaking because it's -- it's important that the Board
recognize that we're all in this together. We're not in it for politics. We're
not in it for -- to aggrandize our own -- our own needs at the expense of
others. We're here together. It's a big world, and we need everyone's help and
I can remember several years ago when there were no lights, no signals at Max crossings here in Portland. I was almost killed by one. I was lucky I could jump backwards three feet. But we -- my contention is that we just cannot afford to be divisive for, as Abraham Lincoln once said, a house divided against itself cannot stand.
And if we are divisive in this and we fail, when will that stop? Stay together. Stick it out. Compromise if we must, but let's stay together.
MR. CANNON: Thank you, Mr. Mobley.
MR. BROWDER: Good afternoon. My name is Bill
Browder with the Association of American Railroads out of Washington, DC.
And I appreciate the opportunity to make comments again to the Access Board concerning issues that are significant to us. In fact, we feel a kindredship to the Access Board by the fact that we, too, are a standards and practices organization for our membership that we represent in North America, including Canada and Mexico.
We got our start in the late 1800s by recognizing that time was not necessarily standard, and we developed standard time, which we still use here in the United States today.
We're focused on the Section 1103.7, which concerns surface gaps at railroad crossings. And in particular, with the comment made by the PROWAAC committee, which we can confirm that, AAR, the Association of American Railroads, initiated a project with the Transportation Research Board, and we have enlisted the assistance of the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration to pursue research for gap investigation of usable gap fillers at public right-of-way crossings.
Currently, there is no workable, usable, safe gap filler available, and that is our concern.
We also will be submitting written comments again to Scott, are concerned about Sections 1102.3, 1103.7, 1103.8.1, 1103.8, 1105.3, and without wasting a lot of y'all's time, our concern addresses the interpretation and clear definition of those and how it may apply to my railroad industry, which is private business engaged in selling to the public.
MR. CANNON: One minute, Mr. Browder.
MR. BROWDER: The only thing we have is public transportation.
So we thank you for your time and look forward to continuing to work with the Access Board. Thank you.
MS. KRIER: Thank you. My name is Cheryl Lynn Krier.
I come from Utah. My address is [...] Salt Lake City, 84102.
I just wanted to briefly share some perspective from an educational standpoint. I'm a special educator, and I think the major goal in special education and probably education in general is to equip individuals with the skills they need to become independent, productive adults in society.
I know in my classroom my goal has always been to teach skills, but then to go beyond the classroom and practice them in society. And this term in education is known as a generalization.
Well, since I live and work in Salt Lake City, I have the opportunity to walk through a fairly busy city. And I kind of pride myself on my ability to walk straight down one street to get to my own home. It might be seven blocks, but I'm able to do that because I listen to traffic. I don't listen to the chirps and the beeps that Salt Lake City is probably not very well-respected for because it's a very confusing system.
But I don't have to walk two to three blocks out of my way just to walk down the street that happens to have those signals. I'm very grateful to have the skills that I need to walk down any street safely, to cross any intersection safely. And I would hate to see someone become so dependent upon a system of beeps or chirps or clicks that they can't function in their own neighborhood, that they can't go visit family out of state and be able to get around independently.
I think the most important thing that can be done in your discussion is figuring out ways to allow the blind to adapt their own skills without having to cost extra money --
MR. CANNON: One minute, Cheryl Lynn.
MS. KRIER: Thank you. -- when this money could so vitally be used in education to train people to have the skills to be independent and productive in society.
MR. GEARHART: My name's Scott Gearhart. I am
from Portland, Oregon, and I'd like to give some of my evaluation on being in a
wheelchair and with respect to the wave liners. Please forgive me because I'm
not well-versed at all in all the acronyms, all the agencies, and all the code
names for some of these things.
I was invited about a year ago to witness and test a wave liner from Blind Signs and at the OCB -- I do know that acronym -- here in Portland. And I was impressed because it did not adversely affect me being in a wheelchair, being over the bumps. The bumps were quite minimal and did not affect me in the wheelchair one bit.
In fact, the one thing that I did notice at the OCB that day was the -- it was on the basis of those people, those blind people who were using it -- their faces were lit up with the joy of -- of this device.
I'm not going to speak on using it as a blind person. I have my sight. I will comment on the use of those devices. With a lot of people having decreasing sight, like macular degeneration and what have you, it makes sense to me that the visual aspect of this device might be beneficial --
MR. CANNON: One minute, please, Scott.
MR. GEARHART: -- might be beneficial to those people who are losing their sight in old age.
I think that is about it. The main point I wanted to stress was that -- the one point I do know is that truncated domes are quite annoying, and this device that I used or tested out was not as annoying. That's it.
MS. MADERA: I'll stand because, I don't know
about you guys, I'm quite tired of sitting.
MR. CANNON: Good afternoon.
MS. MADERA: Good afternoon, sir. I'd like to thank you and the Board for the opportunity to express a viewpoint we haven't heard from today yet, and that is the viewpoint of dog guide users. I happen to have a dog that doesn't speak English very well, so I decided that what I wanted to say was that guide dog users of Oregon represent -- we have about 30 or 45 members, and that represents quite a few people spread out about -- all over Oregon.
Many of our members and many of my friends happen to live in the tri-county area of Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington County, and we feel that we've had pretty adequate training. We may not have attended schools in Colorado and Maryland, but we think we have good training.
And some of that -- what that means to me is that when I work with my dog, and I work on streets that happen to have audible signals, I listen for traffic just like any good mobility-oriented student would do. I pay attention to my traffic. And I can use the audible signals to enhance my travel. That's my prerogative.
And since, you know, you were encouraged to have a consumer express one's point of view, who just happens to be blind, I'm just saying I'm expressing my opinion. I'd like to thank the people who were in the forefront of testing for audible signals and who have steadily worked to improve a technology that was started five, six, seven, eight years ago.
MR. CANNON: One minute, please.
MS. MADERA: I would encourage you to make sure you know there are different points of view in the diverse community.
I thank you for the opportunity to share that. And I thank you for taking the time to listen to at least one person's point of view from the guide dog community.
MR. CANNON: That concludes the comments we have heard today on the draft text of our proposed rule making on public rights-of-way. Shortly we'll be having a presentation on new technologies and accessible pedestrian signals and detectable warnings. Before we do that, we'd like to ask Fred Hansen to come forward. I have the privilege in my hometown of Lansing to be on our transit board, the Capital Area Transit Authority, and occasionally go to transit conferences around the country, and it has been always interesting to hear that Tri-Met here in Portland is generally viewed as one of the finest transit systems in the whole United States and also generally regarded as the most accessible public transit system in America. So, Mr. Hansen, we're very proud of your Tri-Met system.
MR. HANSEN: Thank you. I couldn't have said it
better. I hope we can live up to that -- those very kind comments.
First, let me welcome the Access Board to Portland, Oregon. I am Fred Hansen. I am the general manager of Tri-Met. That is the local transit agency that operates all of the bus, rail, and paratransit services in the area, among other things.
I know that you as an Access Board will have a chance to be on the system, if you haven't already, both tomorrow and the next day, and we welcome you to do that.
Let me make just a few comments in general terms, because I think it's important. Our ridership on the Tri-Met system continues to grow and set records, because we really do connect people throughout our whole region, and that's all people, throughout the whole of the community. Most of our riders are what we call choice riders. That is, they have access to a vehicle or choose not to own a car because they are, in fact, relying upon Tri-Met.
We are one of the few regions in the country where transit ridership is growing faster than vehicle mileage travel. What makes us different is that we do plan and coordinate land use policies and transportation investments to create and maintain our liveable communities, and we have a longstanding commitment to full accessibility, as you indicated, Mr. Chairman. That means that Tri-Met designs, constructs, and maintains a fully accessible transit system.
Our entire fixed bus route system has been 100 percent accessible since 1999. And we are making it even easier for people with disabilities to ride our buses. Low-floor buses are now the standard, all we order, and comprise nearly 50 percent of our fleet.
We also recognize that there are constant demands to be able to adjust to changing additions, as we have seen with larger mobility devices, how to be able to ensure that we have access through our front door and be able to have good securement as well as other elements. We see our responsibility as a part of ensuring on an ongoing basis we make those adjustments as society requires or provides us opportunities to address.
Additionally, Tri-Met continues to make substantial investments in our bus stop accessibility, partnering with local jurisdictions and communities to improve bus stop amenities, to enhance the accessible pedestrian network. In fact, since 1997, Tri-Met has spent a minimum of $50 million a year solely on the accessibility improvements at bus stops. That is in addition to, as we construct new bus stops or do new light rail, where obviously we're making those investments. This is the retrofit element.
Tri-Met began a pioneering commitment to accessible transportation when it purchased new low-floor light rail vehicles, and we became the first transit agency in North America to employ such vehicles. We also continue to work to ensure that light rail station areas are compliant with ADA guidelines and also fulfill the needs of the local disabled community.
In our effort to ensure that our bus and rail system is barrier-free, Tri-Met engages the support of an active citizens advisory committee on accessibility, known as CAT, committee on accessible transportation. That panel has been advising Tri-Met executives, advising me, and our board of directors since the early 1980s.
The CAT is comprised of 15 members from the community, seven of whom are senior citizens and/or persons with disabilities who use Tri-Met. Six members represent persons with disabilities and/or seniors. One is a local government representative, and one is a member from our Tri-Met board of directors.
Their dedication and help has really helped us address a whole series of issues and continues to be able to make us, we believe, one of best transit districts in terms of accessibility in the nation.
Tri-Met is also a leader in the paratransit services you will have a chance to be able to utilize, I understand, on Thursday. And although the ADA requires that paratransit services be fully implemented by no later than 1997, we were in compliance one year earlier, 1996. Tri-Met goes beyond the ADA standards by providing door-to-door service for people unable to use our regular fixed route service.
In closing, Tri-Met considers itself a leader in an effort to provide all individuals with equal, universal access to its system, and we strongly support the objective of you, the U.S. Access Board, ensuring that all facilities are accessible. We will provide you more detailed written comments on specific items of your agenda by the closing. Thank you.
MR. CANNON: Thank you, Mr. Hansen.