Public Transport: Accessibility Solutions, Also for the Intellectual Disability!

Public Transport: Accessibility Solutions, Also for the Intellectual Disability!

Public Transport: Accessibility Solutions, Also for the Intellectual Disability!

 

153 million people live with an intellectual disability in the World. How do they get around the city and take public transportation independently? What are the facilities, accessibility equipment or human solutions that facilitate their mobility? The accessibility regulation is not very explicit on the subject. But many public transport networks have already experimented and implemented measures that have positive effects. Here is an overview!

Intellectual Disability: Specific Needs for Mobility

 

Intellectual disability, also known as general learning disability or mental retardation, is characterized by significantly impaired intellectual and adaptive functioning. Often confused with the mental illness and associated with the cognitive disability, the intellectual disability nevertheless has its specificities.

People with intellectual disabilities have, to a greater or lesser extent depending on the case:

⊗ difficulties of understanding and conceptualization,

⊗ reduced analytical capacity,

⊗ increased emotions and sensitivity to stress,

⊗ difficulties in getting in touch and being understood,

⊗ a reduced ability to be aware of space and time,

⊗ a lack of ability to cope with unforeseen circumstances,

⊗ difficulty concentrating and remembering information,

⊗ difficulties to sort out too much information,

⊗ complicated access to writing, especially when the information is long or contains abbreviations or acronyms…

For the use of public transport, these difficulties have concrete consequences at each stage of the journey: reading maps, understanding schedules, wayfinding, remembering and following directions, identifying the correct bus stop or subway station, coping with service disruptions, delays and emergencies, requesting information from appropriate sources…

 

Tools Adapted to the Intellectual Disability to Use Public Transport

Many transport authorities have already put in place solutions to facilitate access for people with intellectual disabilities to public transport. Beyond the 153 million people with intellectual disabilities identified in the World, it is many other travelers who benefit: the elderly, children, people with mental or cognitive disabilities and potentially anyone stressed or distracted.

 

Help by Planning a Trip

Planning a trip is essential to feel reassured and anticipate difficulties. Some people with intellectual disabilities need to be trained to use public transport.

In New York City, the MTA offers free travel training to all travelers with disabilities. They learn to use the bus and subway independently. To remember the skills obtained, they can also refer to the MTA Guide to Accessible Transit.

In San Francisco, travelers with intellectual disabilities can also get an individualized travel training with a qualified travel trainer. This training allow them to improve their travel skills and gain more experience using the Muni system.

This kind of trainings also exist in Paris with “Mobility Workshops”. The RATP transit system has published a guide in language easy to read and understand.

Some people with an intellectual disability are quite able to use a map as long as it is simplified. Many cities have maps that include photos of the main places. This preview has a reassuring effect and facilitates the recognition of its destination when reaching it. Transport for London offers a large collection of maps in different forms: color, black and white, large print, audio, etc.

 

Multichannel and Multisensory Signage

 

Dissemination of information via several channels and in different sensory modalities (visual, sound, tactile) can reach a wider audience and ensures a better understanding of the message in all circumstances.

More and more transit systems are providing traveler information in real time both in visual form (lighted signs) and sound. Most of the World’s largest cities have passenger information systems with both visual and vocal announcements. This is very helpful for most fragile travelers.

Many French cities have installed audio signage for blind and visually impaired people. The speakers are activated on demand with a remote control or smartphone to avoid noise pollution on roads. They broadcast a fully customizable message wich announces the name of the location and guiding information. Specialized associations on intellectual disability suggest extending the use of these audio beacons to the population they represent. These devices are gradually installed to locate the entrances of metro stations in Paris.

The use of symbols or pictograms also facilitates identification and helps memorize information. Mexico City’s Metro system has icons to identify each station. Instead of a name, these graphic elements make wayfinding easier for passengers with intellectual disabilities or those who cannot read.

Still underdeveloped in the urban space, pavement marking has a strong potential for wayfinding of all the public. In Liverpool, the locations of the main bus stops are indicated by footprints incorporating the bus number and differentiated by a color code.

 

Training Frontline Staff and Drivers on Disability Awareness

 

The behavior of drivers and transport employees can, as appropriate, improve or aggravate the stress or panic situations of travelers with intellectual disabilities. This is one of the reasons why training for the reception of disabled people and accessibility must be provided to all personnel in contact with the public.

This approach is already in place on many public transport networks, as in London, Paris, San Francisco or Toronto.

 

Implementation of Easy-to-Use Equipment

 

The complexity of automated ticketing or security gates can compromise access to transport for people with intellectual disabilities.

The design of this equipment must therefore take into account the specific needs of these users:

⊗ Reduction of the number of manipulations,

⊗ Information easy to understand,

⊗ Tolerance to slowness, etc.

Digital Solutions Adapted to Intellectual Disability

 

People with intellectual disabilities also benefit from advances in information and communication technologies. The Disability Innovation Institute in Sydney (Australia) conducts interdisciplinary research on the use of mobile technology by people with intellectual disabilities, and its capacity to improve their social inclusion. Apps on tablets and smartphones can help them in their daily lives to do their shopping, count the currency, organize their schedule, and of course, travel on public transport. To design accessible applications, it is necessary to take into account the following points:

⊗ Easy to read and understand text: use simple words, not jargon (e.g. travel document = ticket),

⊗ Photos of places: preview of strategic points and places of destination. The fact of being able to visualize one’s journey has indeed reassuring for a person with intellectual disability. A 360 ° view is a real plus.

⊗ Voice input: Users must be able to query with their own words.

⊗ Several possible paths: What is logical for some is not necessarily for others, for example for people with autism. An application accessible to all must allow access to the same information by several methods.

⊗ Suggestions when typing: Whether the query is captured by voice or text, the application should provide suggestions for failure (e.g., “Do you mean…”).

⊗ Priority to the most common queries: These should appear as close as possible to the beginning of the home screen to allow quick access to information.

⊗ E-mail or SMS Alerts: To help users better manage unexpected events and disruptions, it is essential that the application offers an e-mail or SMS alert system on predefined routes. The application should also propose alternative routes.

⊗ Personal preferences: Users must be able to record their own parameters as their preferred mode of transport (surface transport for a claustrophobic person), their walking speed (calculation of the journey time), map display mode (change map orientation, zoom control), etc.

 

As you can see, the needs of people with intellectual disabilities allow the development of solutions that benefit all public transport users. Anyone who occasionally encounters difficulties in comprehension, memory, strength or reactivity, because of their age, illness, stress, fatigue or a simple moment of distraction . Mobility professionals with disabilities are able to assist you in implementing these solutions.

 

If you like this article you might also like this one: 8 Clichés About Intellectual Disability

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The needs of people with intellectual disabilities allow the development of solutions that benefit all public transport users. Anyone who occasionally encounters difficulties in comprehension, memory, strength or reactivity, because of their age, illness, stress, fatigue or a simple moment of distraction.

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Zoe Gervais

Zoe Gervais

Content Manager

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7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities

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7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities  Who hasn’t been uncomfortable dealing with a person with disabilities? We’ve all been afraid to drop a clanger, to be clumsy and to behave badly. It’s normal to feel disconcerted in a new situation when we don’t...

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on the accessibility market.

For more than 25 years, we have been developing architectural access solutions for buildings and streets. Everyday, we rethink today’s cities to transform them in smart cities accessible to everyone.

By creating solutions ever more tailored to the needs of people with disabilities, we push the limits, constantly improve the urban life and make the cities more enjoyable for the growing majority.

The Ultimate Guide to Pedestrian Wayfinding: Understand the Needs and Take Action in Your City

The Ultimate Guide to Pedestrian Wayfinding: Understand the Needs and Take Action in Your City

The Ultimate Guide to Pedestrian Wayfinding: Understand the Needs and Take Action in Your City

 

Have you ever got lost in the city or in a complex building? With the densification of urban areas good wayfinding systems are a major step to empower pedestrians. To boost the population’s walkability, best practices wayfinding solutions encourage and enable people to walk more often to more destinations.

This article brings together all the information you must know to meet the needs of all populations, the existing solutions and how to implement them in your city. You will then have all the keys to take action and help all the citizens to get their bearings, regardless of their disability, age and knowledge of the area.

Let’s empower all the pedestrians!

Why pedestrian wayfinding is important in a city?

 

Wayfinding systems for pedestrians are essential in cities as they give information about the environment and enable a smooth and coherent walk. They provide accurate, clear and quality information allowing to streamline the flow and make citizens as autonomous as possible.

According to SEGD, Wayfinding refers to “information systems that guide people through a physical environment and enhance their understanding and experience of the space”.

Wayfinding solutions give the right information at the right time and enable people to easily build a mental map of an area. They make the environment readable and navigable. Using wayfinding systems also help improving the user experience and pleasure for pedestrian visitors.

Wayfinding systems also encourage the walk. In cities walking is crucial as it helps reduce pollution and climate change. It also improves personal health. In addition, a pedestrian will be more likely to consume than a person by car, thus directly impacting the economy of a city. From a social point of view, walking promotes equality and strengthens social bonds between inhabitants. Finally, walking in the city makes it easier for people to use bicycles and public transport.

In other words, the information provided by wayfinding systems has a major impact on the economic, social and well-being of all.

 

What are pedestrian wayfinding needs?

 

The basic need in terms of pedestrian wayfinding is to be able to navigate in the public and private space to reach a destination. Go from point A to point B without encountering any difficulty in finding one’s way and without getting lost.

When a person moves on foot, all his senses are awake. A pedestrian wayfinding system delivers sensory cues. It can solicit sight thanks to visual signage, audition by the transmission of sound information, olfaction with the orientation by the smells etc.

A conventional pedestrian wayfinding system therefore meets the primary need for orientation and safety using sensory information.

We will now review the needs of users according to their situation. Please click on the situation that better suits you:

 

Residents of a city that doesn’t have any disbility need occasional help in case of uncertainty. Wayfinding solutions then fills a grey area for example when the person doesn’t know the neighborhood well or if roadworks change the usual walking route.

A resident doesn’t need to be guided step by step but rather have a glimpse of the global journey to reassure himself in the choice of the walking itinerary. He will rely on familiar landmarks to get his way round.

Non-resident persons without disability are little familiar with their environment and therefore need help to find their way round the city. Business travelers need to find their hotel and their place of work. Tourists need to know the location of touristic places to visit, to discover the city and to know where they are. They all need to be guided step by step for the duration of their stay.

In addition to the needs of sighted people, blind pedestrians have specific needs due to their disability.

First of all, they need to appeal to a different sense than sight to find their way. Blind people necessitate non-visual cues such as tactile or auditory cues.

Another need is to feel safe while walking. Without sight, the danger is more difficult to apprehend. Wayfinding systems make it possible to overcome the visual deficit by providing clues soliciting other senses.

A blind person also needs to be able to preview his itinerary step by step before departure. Knowing the key steps is essential to anticipate changes of directions, pedestrian crossings, number of bus stations etc.

The need for reassurance and comfort in moving is also essential. A person who does not see wants to know if the path he is taking is the right one.

Finally, the need for autonomy is also essential to take into account. A blind or visually impaired person wants to be able to move alone without having to seek the help of a third person.

People with physical disabilities need to go to a destination based on their motor skills. They need to know where to go to find accessible sidewalks, elevators, slopes, etc. The importance of having a path adapted to their disability is essential.

Wheelchair users have low visibility due to their height. They need information within reach. They also have the desire to be empowered and to be completely sure that the route is accessible before following a path.

Deaf people need visual information to walk safely. Visual guidance is indeed important to meet their needs. Allowing them to get a view of their destination point is very helpful.

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The information provided by wayfinding systems has a major impact on the economic, social and well-being of all.

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Complex built environment and city managers are looking for lower guided assistance costs. The economic challenge also lies in welcoming tourists. A city that informs its tourists favors its economy.

In addition, conveying a strong image by taking into account all types of disabilities is often challenging for decision makers.

Decision-makers and site managers therefore have an economic and image need to meet.

For signage installers, the set-up and the maintenance must be easy and accessible. Power connection must be minimal. They also need solutions that respect the standards of the public space: high, hygiene, solidity etc.

For digital solution designers, mapping updates must be made on a regular basis.

What are the existing wayfinding solutions?

 

After reviewing and understanding the needs of different groups of the population, let’s talk about existing wayfinding solutions from around the world.

Please click on the solution to access the information:

• Human solutions

Help of passersby

Benefit for end-user: human contact

Drawbacks for end-users : not reliable, not always easy to go up to a stranger in the street, impossible when there isn’t any one to ask

Wheelchair and guided assistance

Benefits for end-user: human contact, reliable, reassuring, less stressing

Drawbacks for end-users : less autonomy, need to book ahead, less spontaneity

Benefits for site managers: gives a positive image, complies with the law

Drawbacks for site managers: expensive, resource-intensive, takes time, misuse and abuse from people

• Visual solutions

Classic or connected signage

Benefits for end-user: allows to find one’s bearings with ease

Drawbacks for end-users: possible contrasts problems, too high, not multilingual, impossible to understand when illiterate, hard to update, can be poorly positioned, no audio information, infrequent

 

Benefits for decision-maker: streamlines human flows, attracts tourists

Drawback for decision-makers: costly maintenance, vandalism, update

• Audio solutions

Audio beacons

Navigueo+ HIFI…

Benefits for end-user: guidance and vocalization of the information, variety of audio messages, most efficient solution for blind people to walk independently and to find landmarks

Drawbacks for end-users: beacons need to be named well by the site manager, the triggering application is energy consuming

Benefits for decision-makers: accessibility of the place, attracts more visitors, proven effectiveness, connected device

 

Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS)

aBeacon

Benefits for end-users: pedestrian safety, customizable, some Accessible Pedestrian Signals indicate the name of the streets, autonomy

Drawbacks for end-users: Accessible Pedestrian Signals that don’t require a remote control or a smartphone activation are noisy

Benefits for decision-makers: easy to install as they are compliant with all pedestrian signals, affordable, reduces noise pollution, ready for standards laws and needs, provides urban connectivity

• Digital solutions

Outdoor journey planner

Google maps, Apple maps, Bing maps, Here WeGo, Maps.me, Qwant Maps, Osmand

Benefits for end-users: allows to know its location in real time, preferred features

Drawbacks for end-users: mapping is not always intuitive, doesn’t work indoor

Drawbacks for designers: needs to be updated on a regular basis

 

Indoor mapping

Evelity, MapWise, MazeMap

Benefits for end-users: ability to get information about an indoor location, step by step or from points of interests guidance, connection using other technologies than outdoor navigation app, customizable information according to personal preferences

Benefits for decision-makers: long-term savings over wheelchair/guided assistance and signage

Other digital pedestrian wayfinding solutions

How to Implement a Wayfinding Solution? 10 Steps to Take Action!

 

  1. Understand the needs and expectations from users: start from analyzing the needs of people with disabilities who have specific needs to expand to all audiences. Understand the needs of the users according to the people who visit the place (daily users, occasional, punctual). For each type of person arise different needs and problems,
  2. Analyse the environment: strengths and weaknesses of the environment. Take into account the constraints of the place,
  3. Consult with users: interview the end-users to confirm their needs, take time to get to know them, follow them in their journeys etc. This will allow to understand the mobility chain and solve all the problems encountered in their journeys,
  4. Choose the wayfinding solution that best fits the needs of the audience: human, visual, audio or digital,
  5. Choose the guiding solution: for digital solutions, the choice of guiding solution is important. It can be a step-by-step or strategic landmarks guidance,
  6. Prototype the solution,
  7. Test the solution with end users: use the Agile method in order to keep all the stakeholders involved in the development cycle. Have the solution tested at several stages of creation process,
  8. Produce the solution: use designers to create the best wayfinding solution possible,
  9. Develop the solution: this step requires technical skills inherent to the choice of guidance system,
  10. Install the solution: even for most digital solutions, on-site installation is required. It can range from beacon installation as landmarks to the installation of signage.

You now have all the keys to set up pedestrian wayfinding solutions in your city. Keep in mind that an accessible system for blind people will also be accessible for everyone. So, design for the most vulnerable people and you will reach everyone.

Over the past 50 years, most wayfindings systems were orientated for drivers. People on foot have been forgotten. The 21st century stakes have evolved especially because of climate change, fuel prices, personal health, obesity and urban livability. Pedestrian wayfinding is one of the solutions that answers to all of these major issues.

As a decision-maker, help make your city more walkable, legible and liveable for everyone!

If you like this article, you will also like this one: Making Public Transport Information Accessible to Disabled People

Evelity, the first wayfinding solution for all types of disabilities in public and private facilities

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on the accessibility market.

For more than 25 years, we have been developing architectural access solutions for buildings and streets. Everyday, we rethink today’s cities to transform them in smart cities accessible to everyone.

By creating solutions ever more tailored to the needs of people with disabilities, we push the limits, constantly improve the urban life and make the cities more enjoyable for the growing majority.

Obstacles in Public Transport: What Solutions for Physical Disability?

Obstacles in Public Transport: What Solutions for Physical Disability?

Obstacles in Public Transport: What Solutions for Physical Disability?

 

Wheelchair, crutches, bad balance, but also heavy luggage, strollers, young children… 30 to 40% of public transport users are in a situation of reduced mobility and 6.6% of the US population is living with an ambulatory disability. The removal of physical barriers is a prerequisite for their access to the transportation network, but also a huge challenge for transport network operators, especially when the infrastructure is old.

Let’s have a look at existing solutions and services. Get inspired by the transport networks that get it right!

What are the physical obstacles encountered in public transport?

 

Imagine yourself in front of a 15-inch step using a wheelchair, lengthening your trip by half an hour because of a broken down elevator, passing the safety gates with a large and heavy suitcase, going down 3 floors with your stroller and your baby in your arms, etc.

Reducing physical barriers in public transport is a real need for people with reduced mobility and physical disability.

Here are some examples of physical barriers that can be found in public transportation:

⊗ Unsuitable steps,

⊗ Significant differences in height between floors,

⊗ Long distances,

⊗ Slippery floors,

⊗ Excessive space between the platform and the vehicle,

⊗ Access heights too important.

These difficulties mainly concern people with ambulatory disabilities but can be extended to all people with reduced mobility.

 

What are the solutions to reduce physical obstacles in public transport?

 

Planning ahead: tips and tricks to travel serenely

 

To save time and avoid unpleasant surprises (elevator down, stairs at the entrance …), planning ahead is a key step.

Many websites and mobile applications, often unknown to users, allow to locate accessible places and to be informed in real time of the level of accessibility of infrastructures. Among the best known are: wheelmap and access earth.

In addition, most cities like Chicago, Toronto and London provide users with a journey planner taking into account the network’s accessibility.

 

Facilities adapted for people with reduced mobility

 

In the United States for exemple, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is the landmark civil rights law that deals with the rights of persons with disabilities. Title II of the ADA “prohibits discrimination based on disability in public transport such as city buses and public railways”. The regulation imposes certain standards on transport networks, such as the requirement to provide disability access in new vehicles and paratransit services to those who cannot use public transportation.

Some transport network operators go beyond legal obligations and address custom-made arrangements to people with motor disabilities.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of the different accessibility solutions dedicated to people with reduced mobility all over the world:

⊗ In Lyon, France, all metro stations are equipped with lifts and dedicated gates,

⊗ The subway of New-York City is equipped with AutoGate: an automatic entry/exit gate

⊗ In Montreal, all metros and buses are accessible for wheelchair users (elevators, front-door access ramps…)

⊗ In Barcelona, ​​a stop request button and a request button of the ramp has been set up in the buses to simplify the wheelchair exit,

⊗ Several metro lines in the world have a retractable threshold in order to fill the space between the platform and the vehicule,

⊗ Throughout Spain, a dedicated spot in buses is equipped with a belt and a grab bar that secures people in wheelchairs,

⊗ Many European buses have a validation terminal located in front of the access ramp preventing wheelchair users from having to move to the back of the bus,

⊗ The city of Toulouse in France has implemented a lowered card transport validation in buses.

 

Services adapted for people with reduced mobility

 

Reducing barriers in public transport also means providing services to people with motor disabilities.

Alternative modes of transport at the public transport rate is often offered in the event of a hazard and to those who cannot use public transport. In some cities, a free accompaniment service by qualified members of staff is offered. Other cities have also developed an ambulatory ambassador service. Disabled users advise and accompany those in need to better understand their difficulties and overcome them. Uber and Lyft both provide handicap-accessible transportation. Depending on the area, you may need to plan and pay more than a traditional ride. However, those private rideshare services can fill occasional needs.

 

If leaving the house is often an expedition for people faced with a reduction in mobility, this is not inevitable. As an accessibility actor of your public transport network, you have the power to improve the situation of at least 30% of your users. Lifts, access ramps, adapted furniture, real-time information on network accessibility, paperless ticketing, assistance services …, many solutions have proved successfully. Before setting up one or the other, we recommend that you look for feedback and organize a consultation with users of your network with disabilities to identify their difficulties, because what works well somewhere may need to be adapted elsewhere.

 

If you like this article you will also like this one: Making Public Transport Information Accessible to Disabled People

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Of the nearly 2 million people with disabilities who never leave their homes, 560,000 never leave home because of transportation difficulties.

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Zoe Gervais

Zoe Gervais

Content Manager

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7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities  Who hasn’t been uncomfortable dealing with a person with disabilities? We’ve all been afraid to drop a clanger, to be clumsy and to behave badly. It’s normal to feel disconcerted in a new situation when we don’t...

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities

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The French leading company

on the accessibility market.

For more than 25 years, we have been developing architectural access solutions for buildings and streets. Everyday, we rethink today’s cities to transform them in smart cities accessible to everyone.

By creating solutions ever more tailored to the needs of people with disabilities, we push the limits, constantly improve the urban life and make the cities more enjoyable for the growing majority.

Are Accessible Pedestrian Signals Required in Your Country?

Are Accessible Pedestrian Signals Required in Your Country?

Are Accessible Pedestrian Signals Required in Your Country?

 

Pedestrian safety is a major milestone in building an inclusive and accessible city. To meet this ambition a simple solution has been developed to help visually impaired and blind people cross the road safely: the Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS). This integrated device located in the pedestrian light communicates tactile or/and audible information about the WALK and DON’T WALK interval.

If its regulation is not always easy to be familiar with, we have deciphered for you the great founding principles that legislate Accessible Pedestrian Signals around the world.

International Law Requires Equal Access for People with Disabilities

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Security, safety and freedom of movement are fundamental rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The installation of Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) allowing visually impaired and blind people to cross the road safely meets the principle of equal access for all. This is one of the pillars of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) adopted by the United Nations in 2007. With 177 States parties all around the world, the Convention stresses that persons with disabilities should be able to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life. States parties should then take the appropriate measures to achieve this objective.

In its article 9 about Accessibility, the Convention provides that: “These measures, which shall include the identification and elimination of obstacles and barriers to accessibility, shall apply to, inter alia:

  1. a) Buildings, roads, transportation and other indoor and outdoor facilities, including schools, housing, medical facilities and workplaces;
  2. b) Information, communications and other services, including electronic services and emergency services.”

The signatories shall “develop, promulgate and monitor the implementation of minimum standards and guidelines for the accessibility of facilities and services open or provided to the public.

Europe: Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities

The European Union is a party of UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and promotes therefore the active inclusion and full participation of disabled people in society. Accessibility is one of the eight priority areas of the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 with one clear objective: make goods and services accessible to people with disabilities and promote the market of assistive devices. The European Accessibility Act was adopted in March 2019 and Member States have six years to transpose it into national law.

One of the measures to be implemented under this decision is that all goods and services provide information in more than one sensory channel: vision, auditory, speech and tactile elements. Accessible Pedestrian Signals meet these requirements and improve pedestrian safety for visually impaired and blind people.

America: Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination

The Inter-American Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities was adopted in 1999 within the Organization of American States. 19 States have ratified the convention yet including Brazil, Mexico and Argentina.

One of the objectives of this convention is to promote full integration of disabled people into society. This includes:

  • “Measures to ensure that new buildings, vehicles, and facilities constructed or manufactured within their respective territories facilitate transportation, communications, and access by persons with disabilities;
  • Measures to eliminate, to the extent possible, architectural, transportation, and communication obstacles to facilitate access and use by persons with Disabilities.”

In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)  also establishes a clear and comprehensive prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability. The title III “Public Accommodations” sets the minimum standards for accessibility for alterations and new construction of facilities.

National Regulations Standardize Accessible Pedestrian Signals

After a global overview of the various founding regulatory texts that govern and regulate the implementation of Accessible Pedestrian Signals in the world, let’s see how it works nationally. The following section will not go into detail as local laws will be developed in dedicated articles, but will fly over basic legal principles.

United States

The Proposed Accessibility Guidelines for Pedestrian Facilities in the Public Right-of-Way from July 26, 2011 states that all pedestrian crosswalks must be accessible to pedestrians with disabilities. The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) requires improving accessibility at all newly constructed or reconstructed intersections where pedestrian lights are installed.

The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) from 2009 also delivers some information regarding the walk indications provided by these pedestrian traffic signals:

“Accessible pedestrian signals shall have both audible and vibrotactile walk indications.”

“Accessible pedestrian signals shall have an audible walk indication during the walk interval only.”

“The accessible walk indication shall have the same duration as the pedestrian walk signal except when the pedestrian signal rests in walk.”

“Speech walk messages shall provide a clear message that the walk interval is in effect, as well as to which crossing it applies.”

For more information about APS regulation in New York City, check our dedicated article.

Canada

The New TAC Accessible Pedestrian Signals Guidelines of 2007 adopted by the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) indicates that the Accessible Pedestrian Signals must provide an audible, visual and vibrotactile acknowledgement of the actuation to support the needs of people with hearing and vision loss.

Two types of pushbutton actuation have been identified as relevant by different stakeholders:

  1. The normal actuation which has a strong preference from the industry and from the community because it is simple of use. It is triggered with the simple press-and-release pushbutton actuating the audible and vibrotactile signal.
  2. The beacon actuation that occurs when the pedestrian pushbutton is pressed and held for a predefined time period. This method is used by many jurisdictions.

The Guidelines also provide several information regarding the walk interval, the audible information, the push button location, the volume adjustment as well as deployment and maintenance instructions.

For more information about APS regulation in Montreal, check our dedicated article.

Mexico

The Law for the Attention and Integral Development of People with Disabilities was approved in December 2009. In the Article 28, Paragraph 3 can be found established measures for the installation of visual and auditory signs on main pedestrian crosswalks in order to guarantee the safety of people with disability.

A public investigation on pedestrian crossings from 2018 for the city of Mexico states that only 5% of pedestrian crossing signals are equipped with an audible and/or tactile signal for now. The result of this survey therefore calls for the establishment of Accessible Pedestrian Signals to enhance universal accessibility and abide by the law of 2009.

The Mexican secretary of communications and transportation has also issued a series of texts regulating pedestrian crossing lights.

Brazil

The article 9 of the law 10098 of 19 December 2000 issued by The National Traffic Department Denatran states that pedestrian crossing signs installed on public roads should be equipped with a mechanism that send mild, intermittent sound signal and without stridency, or with alternative engine, which serves as a guide or orientation for people with visual impairment.

It is the responsibility of the Brazilian’s executive transit agencies to carry out the necessary studies to set up audible traffic lights, at least in the places provided for by law. The regulation will come into force from the 1st of January 2020.

France

The French law stipulates that an audible signal must be emitted when the pedestrian crossing light is green and that an audio message beginning with “red pedestrian” must be issued when the pedestrian light is red. The Article 7 of the Decree of 23 September 2015 completes this regulation and requires the addition of the geographical location, ie the name of the street. The implementation of this device concerns all newly and renovated intersections.

The Accessible Pedestrian Signals operate by manual activation through a push button located on the mast, or through a dedicated remote control defined in the NF S32-002 standard.

This legislation aims at preserving the mobility chain described in the 2005 Disability Act for the road’s accessibility.

Italy

The Article 6 of the Italian Presidential Decree No. 503/1996 states that newly installed or substituted traffic lights must be accessible to blind people and to all the people who need time to cross the street.

These installations can be in continuous operation or on call. The information codes on these devices are divided into three phases which correspond to the green, yellow and red indicator.

The law requires two parts: the push button to actuate the audio signal and the speaker that must be mounted on the mast above the pedestrian figure. Both devices can not work without each other.

Ireland

The Irish Equal Status Acts from 2000 states that services which are available to the general public should also be available to people with disabilities. This includes road crossings. Acoustic signals therefore come as a solution that meets the legal requirements of the country.

The Disability Act from 2005 makes all Local Government Authorities responsible for making their public buildings, streets, footpaths, parks etc. as accessible as possible for everyone, including people with disabilities.

United Kingdom

The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions (TSRGD) from 2016 is the regulatory text that standardizes APS in the country.

The Department of Transport has also issued a Local Transport Note stating that: “(…) audible signals or bleepers in the form of a pulsed tone and/or tactile signals are normally used during the green figure period. The signals are intended for the benefit of blind or partially sighted pedestrians although they can also be helpful to others.”

More recently, the Traffic Open Products and Specifications (TOPAS) has published a document stating that “there are two types of audible products. The ‘single bleep’ version is for installations at single carriageway crossing sites and the ‘bleep and sweep” version is specifically for use at ‘staggered’ crossing facilities. The product emits an audible signal when a steady green pedestrian signal is being displayed and the signal controller’s audible/tactile drive output is present.”

New Zealand and Australia

The 2015 New Zealand Guidelines for facilities for blind and vision impaired pedestrians provides details about Audible Tactile Traffic Signals (ATTS) requirements as well as their set up. All new or upgraded signalised intersections including pedestrian signals must be equipped with Audible Tactile Traffic Signals (ATTS).

The upgrade of pedestrian signals to fully compliant Audible Tactile Traffic Signals (ATTS) systems should be prioritised after considering the following factors:

  • Road Crossing Distance
  • Pedestrian Accident History
  • High Pedestrian Flows
  • Consultation with Disability Group
  • Intersection Configuration
  • Vehicle Speeds
  • The Proximity of Public Facilities

International Conventions regulate the major founding principles related to disability and particularly to road’s accessibility. Implementing Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) in your city means meeting with the international principle of equal access for all. At national level, various texts make laws in terms of Accessible Pedestrian Signals use and implementation.

You want to know more about regulations from your city, your area or your country? You want to provide standards-based pedestrian crossing devices to avoid any penalty? Stay tuned. You will soon find all the information you need in our next articles.

⇒ Everything you must know about APS regulation in New York City and in Montreal.

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The installation of Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) allowing visually impaired and blind people to cross the road safely meets the principle of equal access for all. This is one of the pillars of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) adopted by the United Nations in 2007.

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Zoe Gervais

Zoe Gervais

Content Manager

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