Maneuvering a cityscape for a people with disabilities has many challenges. Fortunately, the Americans with Disabilities Act provides regulations that make navigating the mean streets accessible:
- Curb Ramps: The sloped areas at intersections or in parking lots that create a ramp between sidewalk and street allow for people who use wheeled mobility devices to safely cross streets. They also inform blind or low-vision pedestrians that they are at an intersection or other possible hazard. They are handy for bike riders and stroller pushers as well – no wheelie-popping required! (Read on to find out why some curb cuts have those bumpy things on them. They’re probably not what you think!)
- Island or Median Cuts: Raised islands or medians in the middle of an intersection where pedestrians cross must have curb cuts on either side or must be bisected with the path entrance and exit at the same level as the street.
- Passenger loading/Bus/Rail boarding and alighting areas should have an accessible route to streets, sidewalks, or pedestrian paths, and have a curb cut.
People who are blind need access to the same information as sighted pedestrians. To that end, some curbed ramps have “truncated domes,” also known as “those bumpy things.” Truncated domes are not, as one might imagine, placed there for traction in slippery weather conditions. Instead, they are useful to blind people as detectable warnings. Detectable warnings are “A standardized surface feature built in or applied to walking surfaces or other elements to warn of hazards” and intended to function much like stop signs. The noticeable texture and different sound than the pavement, can be detected by pedestrians who are blind, and is a uniform warning used to provide them with information about where they are in the environment. Truncated domes are also an effective way to warn of drop-offs at curbs, on the edges of rail tracks and at the perimeters of ponds or reflecting pools that have no barrier.
Thanks to the ADA, people with disabilities can be safe and independent in their daily lives.