RVAAC Communications Subcommittee
March 18, 2015
1:00-3:00 PM


  1. Introductions and Self Identification of Participants
  2. 2. Discussion of attached Draft Report
  3. 3. Adjoin

AS OF March 17, 2015

1. General: Audible and Visible Communications:

Where audible announcements are provided to passengers via a public address system or other audible means, they shall also be provided visually. Where visible announcements are provided via variable message signage systems or other visual means, they shall also be provided audibly.

2. Variable Message Signs – VMS:

A. Variable message signs shall be provided for all pre-recorded or "canned" audible announcements excluding advertisements.
B. Variable message signs shall be provided for real time or "dynamic" audible announcements to the extent practicable.
C. All cars must provide variable message signs in at least two locations so that the message is visible in every part of the car.
D. Where high definition VMS is provided, audio description and ALS should also be incorporated.
E. Where cars provide route map tracking, signs shall be provided in two locations so that the map is audible and visible in every part of the car.
F. [Standards for sound quality and visual aspects must be added here.]
G. [Make recommendation to the Board to do research on speech intelligibility and rail car acoustics.]
H. Variable message signs legibility (e.g., font, case, style, and location) – Recommend referencing the ANSI A117.1 technical requirements for VMS systems.

3. Induction Loops:

A. Wherever audible announcements are provided, an induction loop system shall be provided.
B. The induction loop system shall be accessible in at least two seating areas of each car where technically feasible.
C. The Access Board should evaluate technical feasibility of induction loops on rail cars – a majority of the Subcommittee already thinks it is feasible.

4. Audible Announcements:

A. Where feasible, audible announcements, including stop announcements, shall be pre-recorded, high quality messages.
B. Human announcements should be kept to a minimum. This is especially important with station stop announcements.

5. Lighting:

The sub-committee recommends that the Board do research on lighting as there is no requirements in the Standard for general or task lighting other than in elevators and at bus entry points. (See additional notes below.)

6. Menus & Directories:

At least one menu or directory shall comply with the building accessibility standards for visual signage in each car where menus or directories are provided.

7. Service Animal Relief Area Signs:

A. Information should be made available on an inside wall nearest to the locations where the ISA is required.
B. We recommend that this sign should inform passengers to ask a crew member for the availability of this service. Service Animal relief area information should be available from train crew. Recommend DOT require crew be trained to know where they are.

8. Emergency Notification Announcements:

A. Emergency Notification Announcements via VMS shall be connected to the car's back-up power system.
B. Visual emergency alerts (flashing fire alarms and such) in all parts of the rail cars -- compartments, main area, restrooms, etc. recommend NFPA 72 requirements with the use of VMS; what db level is in NFPA 72. Is it too loud? Alarms can cause disorientation and additional dangers to people who are blind or have cognitive disabilities.

8. Call Buttons:

A. Any button used to communicate with rail car staff.
B. These buttons should give audible and visual feedback to assure they have been activated.
C. Tactile sign to identify the purpose ("emergency help", "steward", etc.)

9. Door announcements:

An audible and visual notification shall be provided to indicate the door that is opening. A second and different alarm shall be provided when a door is locked out and not going to open. Route tracking for Rapid and Light rail only and add in flexibility for this requirement. Include what doors will be opening in stop announcements.

10. ISA Signs:

The ISA shall be provided at required wheelchair spaces and priority seating and shall be located 48' to 60" above the floor where most logical.

11. New Technologies:

Recommend that DOT examine the potential for providing messages on hand-held devices such as smartphones and tri-mode communication.

The following are recommendations for various types of primarily static signs not specified above that may be located throughout rail vehicles. Recommend using the Signage requirements from the building Standards.

Signs that shall meet the Tactile and Visual requirements:

• Signs Designating Rooms and Spaces and Exit Signs at doorways (located 48' to 60" above the floor at doors or doorways)
• Emergency Informational Signs (Recommend that DOT work on pocket signs, apps, web sites, etc. if you don't have the space.)

Signs that shall meet the Tactile and Visual requirements for size where practicable:
• Non-Emergency Operational Signs
Specifically where instructions for door latch/locks are provided they shall be both visual and tactile and be located next to the latch/lock but not more than 10 inches from the latch/lock. Where a pictogram is provided for these instructions a tactile description shall be provided directly adjacent to it.

Signs that shall meet the Visual requirements:
• Directional Signs including directional Exit Signs
• Emergency Operational Signs (Color alone shall not be used to designate elements. Recommend that DOT work on pocket signs, apps, web sites, etc. if you don't have the space.)

Signs that shall meet the Tactile and Visual requirements for size where practicable:
• Non-Emergency Informational Signs
• Caution and Safety Signs (includes icons and logos)

Signs not required to meet accessibility Standards:
• Employee Only Signs
• Designation Signs for Elements

Additional Notes &Recommendations to Access Board:
• Examine what factors should be used to determine equivalency of audible and visible messages. Oral announcements need to have the same level of clarity as visual announcements. This is why pre-recorded announcements are generally better.
• Lighting in circulation areas, restrooms, sleeping compartments, step wells, and in any other areas. Step wells in particular raise issues: 1. Because they may or may not be level platforms; 2. It may or may not be a paved surface one is stepping down on to; 3. Distance to platform varies; and gaps may be difficult especially at night.
• Task lighting and on-demand passenger controls

* This draft is based on 1. The recommendations and decisions of the sub-committee over the last several teleconferences; 2. Comments submitted following the posting of the first draft; and 3. Comments and discussions at the February 27th meeting of the RVAAC as a whole.