Brisbane: A City for Everyone

Brisbane: A City for Everyone

Brisbane: a City for Everyone

 

Currently in Australia, it has been estimated that approximately 357,000 people are either blind or experience some form of vision impairment. This number has been projected to increase to 564,000 by 2030. 

Moreover 8% of pedestrians with vision impairment living in Australia have reported being involved in a collision with a vehicle or a bicycle in the last five years. 20% have reported being involved in a near collision in the same period.

Taking into consideration these statistics, how can the City of Brisbane improve street navigation of people living with some form of visual limitation? What concrete solutions have been implemented so far and will be in the future to ensure everyone has equal opportunity to enjoy the city?

 

Proven solutions to favor accessibility of blind pedestrians in Brisbane

 

Brisbane City Council controls more than 6800 kilometres of roads, which include 50,000 intersections and more than 850 sets of traffic lights. No wonder why it can be a nightmare navigating the City when you have visual impairment. 

Statistically, hazards occur more at junctions than anywhere else. It is then the responsibility of local council to take action in order to ensure safety to everyone.

“Council has been undertaking positive education with the public about the importance of independent mobility of pedestrians with vision impairment so that residents and businesses can help be part of a solution that strikes a fair balance between the needs of pedestrians.”

Adrian Schrinner, Lord Mayor of Brisbane since 2019

 

Brisbane Access and Inclusion Plan 2012-2017 

 

Between 2012 and 2017, the Council has invested $200 million in implementing the Brisbane Access and Inclusion Plan dedicating part of its effort on Pedestrian mobility and transport. Of the overall amount, approximately $6.8 million were fully dedicated each year to make the city more accessible for all its citizens.

After this five-year plan in 2017, 80% of residents agreed that Brisbane was a more inclusive and accessible city (up from 61% in previous years).

This accessibility plan includes but is not limited to initiatives to help blind and low vision pedestrians cross the street independently such as:

⊗ Audio-tactile signals or audible tactile traffic signals (ATTS) at signalised junctions to communicate information about the green and red intervals in non-visual format.

Local representatives have publicly stated that “Special facilities including audible and tactile features now exist at most traffic light pedestrian crossings” although no official statistics are available at the time being.

However Lord Mayor of Brisbane Adrian Schrinner has declared that “In Brisbane we consider ourselves to be highly accessible, which is why we previously voluntarily installed audio tactile facilities at all signalised intersections within the Brisbane CBD and over 500 intersections across Brisbane.”

Brisbane’s audible traffic signals (ATTS) have the particularity to automatically respond to background noise and thus operate on lower volumes in the late evening and early morning.

More info on local audible tactile traffic signals (ATTS) guidelines.

 

⊗ Extended walking times at designated signalised pedestrian crossings to allow people with slow walk to cross the street safely and in their own pace. Extended walk times are currently provided in locations where there is high use from specific user groups that require additional time to cross.

⊗ Widespread braille trail network to help people with visual limitation move independently. A braille trail is a pathway of paving with dots and dash patterns intended for visually-impaired people walking with a cane. Brisbane’s original braille trail was established in the Queen Street Mall back in 1989. An investment of $90,000 has been made in the recent years to lengthen it.

“At about 1.6 kilometres in length, the Brisbane CBD braille trail network through Queen Street mall, Albert Street, Reddacliff Place and King George Square is the longest continuous braille trail in Australia.”

⊗ Tactile ground surface indicators (TGSIs). The City will continue to install tactile ground surface indicators according to Australian Standards at locations of high use and on request. Brisbane city council will also upgrade bus stops with TGSI’s features in response with users’ requests.

⊗ Consistent, firm and even pathways to prevent from tripping hazards

⊗ Tactile street signs on traffic lights to help residents and visitors navigate the streets. 390 brightly-coloured rectangular signs are now in place across the city at locations selected by residents and associations. Street name and building numbers are printed in braille in yellow raised letters on the same pole and height as the pedestrian push-button.

⊗ Safe unsignalised pedestrian crossings including the design and installation, where appropriate, of footpath build-outs and pedestrian refuge islands.

 

As a reward the council’s investment in the five-year Access and Inclusion Plan, Brisbane won the National Disability, Access and Inclusion Award 2017 Awards. 

Council’s investment in access and inclusion has been recognised across the country. But Brisbane does not stop there and aims at being the world accessibility leader in ten years.

“By 2029 Brisbane will be a city for everybody – known worldwide for embracing all ages, abilities and cultures.”

Graham Quirk, Lord Mayor of Brisbane (2011-2019)

 

How to make Brisbane world accessibility leader?

 

In 2019, the end of Lord mayor Graham Quirk’s term to Adrian Schrinner has triggered the second installment of the inclusive plan: A City for Everyone: Draft Inclusive Brisbane Plan 2019-2029.

This draft includes several accessibility and inclusion projects for the ten years to come to go one step further in making Brisbane truly accessible to blind and partially-sighted people.

Among the new initiatives on the agenda, the creation of digital platforms and apps, which takes a naturally significant part in the program with regard to the physical installations that have been introduced so far. The objective is to leverage those physical accessibility equipment to offer additional digital services.

In 2017, the app Access 4000 was developed to provide real time information on different accessibility features available in businesses and venues around Brisbane such as automated doors, disabled parking and toilets, hearing loop, interpreter, lifts, support for low vision or blindness and wheelchair access.

Furthemore, community organisations and Brisbane Marketing – the city’s economic development board – has partnered to create a mobile phone application with a map and a potentially augmented reality platform to assist people with disability to navigate Brisbane streets, publics spaces, buildings and plan their journey. Acting as an outdoor and indoor digital wayfinding system, this new undergoing project gives great prospects for the autonomy of visually impaired people.

Additionally, to enable Brisbane citizens to be informed of updates on temporary obstacles or closures affecting pedestrians, an online portal will be created. This platform will also give residents better information on community transport and shared vehicle options. By offering this digital solution to its citizens, visually impaired people of Brisbane will finally be aware of disruption of accessible routes.

More information on how to maintain pedestrian accessibility when carrying out street works.

Regarding physical accessibility, the council is planning on investing its efforts on pedestrian crossings enhancements, walking and wheeling tour for people with different sensory needs and the creation of tactile library spaces for visitors with specific needs such as autism or blindness.

 

We are looking forward to the official publication of the 2019-2029 Brisbane Inclusive Plan that will set the tone of the ten years to come regarding the city’s accessibility policy. 

Will Brisbane be the worldwide accessibility leader by 2029 outperforming major european, american and asian cities? 

See you in ten years!

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Between 2012 and 2017, the Council has invested $200 million in implementing the Brisbane Access and Inclusion Plan dedicating part of its effort on Pedestrian mobility and transport. Of the overall amount, approximately $6.8 million were fully dedicated each year to make the city more accessible for all its citizens.

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Zoe Gervais

Zoe Gervais

Content Manager

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5 Must-Have Apps for People with Intellectual Disabilities

5 Must-Have Apps for People with Intellectual Disabilities

5 Must-Have Apps for People with Intellectual DisabilitiesPeople with intellectual disabilities such as Down syndrome or fragile X syndrome have an intellectual development that’s inferior to the population average and learning difficulties. This means they have...

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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.

City of Christchurch in New Zealand Sets Out Good Example to Help Blind People Cross the Street Safely

City of Christchurch in New Zealand Sets Out Good Example to Help Blind People Cross the Street Safely

City of Christchurch in New Zealand Sets Out Good Example to Help Blind People Cross the Street Safely

 

Latest statistics from 2013 estimated that there are 30,000 individuals in New Zealand affected by blindness or low vision. Among their day-to-day struggle: road crossing. The City of Christchurch, the 3rd largest city in New-Zealand, made a point of helping blind pedestrians at intersections and crossroads. 

How does the City of Christchurch has become a worldwide exemplary city in terms of inclusion of visually impaired people and more generally of people with disabilities? What concrete actions have been put in place to achieve this?

 

Helping blind people cross the street safely

 

National guidelines

 

A May 2015 guideline issued by the New Zealand Transport Agency – Guidelines for facilities for blind and vision impaired pedestrians 3rd Edition – provide best practice design and installation principles for pedestrian facilities to assist people with vision impairment. The document is the work of many different associations including the Blind Foundation that expressed the idea that there was a need for pedestrian facilities consistency throughout the country. This guideline was first produced in 1997 and this is the third revision.

The guideline sets out standards for pedestrian facility design information, tactile ground surface indicators (TGSI) and audible tactile traffic signals (ATTS) which have been applied by cities throughout New-Zealand including the City of Christchurch.

Regarding ATTS implementation, these guidelines state that: “ATTS shall be installed at all new or upgraded signalised intersections wherever traffic signals include pedestrian signals.”

 

Local policy

Following the publication of these national guidelines, the City of Christchurch has published local policies – Intersection & Pedestrian Crossing Design for People with Disabilities 2016 – to implement these guidelines at local level.

 

This Policy will apply to:

⊗ new intersections equipped with pedestrian crossings

⊗ replacement and repaired intersections with existing and/or new pedestrian crossings; this only applies to major works.

Suitable and complying facilities will be installed in the situations above to assist people with visual impairment to allow safe and secure crossing at intersections. 

According to the policy, these facilities will include, but are not limited to: 

⊗ Tactile Ground Surface Indicators (TGSI) or tactile pavers with contrasting colours,

⊗ Audible Tactile Traffic Signals (ATTS) for visually impaired pedestrians,

⊗ Measures to guide and ease the pedestrian’s journey,

⊗ Left turn slip lane, pedestrian crossings and islands (refuges), which may include zebra crossings, vertical deflection (e.g. a raised table) and traffic signals to slow down or stop vehicles,

⊗ Complying with design, location and colour of push button box for visually impaired persons and placing the buttons at a suitable height for wheelchair users.

⊗ Provide drop down kerbs and minimise footpath cambers to assist mobility impaired pedestrians.

⊗ Consider longer “green” periods for crossings close to certain facilities, e.g. retirement villages, hospitals, medical centres, etc. 

The City of Christchurch places a great emphasis on facilitating the crossing of pedestrian with disabilities and especially for the visually impaired. But the city does not stop there.

Inclusive Christchurch

 

The city offers other amenities and services to adapt to the entire population, even to those most in need.

The first service is an interactive map for people with motor or hearing disabilities. This map, available on the city’s website, allows them to find accessible toilets, hearing loops, parking and mobility scooter hire locations in Christchurch. This initiative proposed by the city supports people with specific needs in their travels and helps them to gain autonomy.

The second project aims at promoting an “inclusive, welcoming service model of community recreation”. KiwiAble is a network of people committed to getting more people with a disability involved in sport, recreation and leisure by breaking down barriers to participation. By providing a card free of charge, people living with disabilities are offered up to 50% discounts on different activities. The program also offers advices, promotes the concept of inclusive community and much more!

From a legal point of view, the city’s accessibility policy relies on a 2001 local policy – Equity and Access for People with Disabilities Policy – that conveys the following values:

⊗ Accessibility

⊗ Diversity

⊗ Equity

⊗ Inclusion

⊗ Human rights

⊗ Participation

 

The text stipulates in particular that “people with disabilities should not be prohibited from participation in their chosen recreational, social or employment activities because of architectural or attitudinal barriers.”

The City of Christchurch has demonstrated initiatives regarding accessibility regulations. Indeed, three years after this local policy, a state law has followed: the Building Act, 2004.

“All building work must comply with the Building Act 2004 by following the New Zealand Building Code. Under this Code, building and design features must allow people with disabilities to carry out normal activities and processes within them”.

In 2013, continuing along the accessibility path, the City of Christchurch has implemented a recovery plan called An Accessible City intended to create better streets for pedestrians, encourage cycling, enhance streetscapes, encourage bus travel, efficient access for vehicles to destinations within the central city, offer new wayfinding systems etc. 

According to this plan, all public buildings, roads and footpaths should have now been rebuilt to comply with the Building Act 2001 by following the New Zealand Building Code. This means more accessible and safe street and built environment for people with disabilities but also people with temporary mobility issue, older people and young children.

The city of Christchurch is an example in New Zealand and in the world for its accessibility policy. 

 

But what are the shapes of things to come in the following years? Maybe an audible tactile traffic signals remotely activatable to facilitate the crossing of visually impaired people? Or a digital wayfinding application for disabled people to guide them in complex venues. Only time will tell…

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The City of Christchurch places a great emphasis on facilitating the crossing of pedestrian with disabilities and especially for the visually impaired. But the city does not stop there.

writer

Zoe Gervais

Zoe Gervais

Content Manager

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Get the latest news about accessibility and the Smart City.

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5 Must-Have Apps for People with Intellectual Disabilities

5 Must-Have Apps for People with Intellectual Disabilities

5 Must-Have Apps for People with Intellectual DisabilitiesPeople with intellectual disabilities such as Down syndrome or fragile X syndrome have an intellectual development that’s inferior to the population average and learning difficulties. This means they have...

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powered by okeenea

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.

Have You Ever Heard About Visible Light Positioning? Tomas Escuin’s from i2CAT Offers His Insights

Have You Ever Heard About Visible Light Positioning? Tomas Escuin’s from i2CAT Offers His Insights

Have You Ever Heard About Visible Light Positioning? Tomas Escuin’s from i2CAT Offers His Insights

 

During our visit at the 9th edition of Smart City Expo in Barcelona we had the chance to discover a wide range of innovations which include a heavy emphasis on inclusion and accessibility. Among them, an encounter with Tomas Escuin and the innovation carried by his research center based in Catalonia i2CAT: Visible Light Positioning.

What is Visible Light Positioning? And how can it benefit the lives of disabled people?

Inclusive City Maker gives voice to Tomas Escuin in charge of the project development at local and international level.

Can you please introduce yourself and i2CAT?

I am Tomas Escuin, an industrial engineer with financial education and experience in technology transfer. 

The i2CAT Foundation is a non-profit research and innovation center that promotes mission-driven R&D activities on advanced Internet architectures, applications and services. More than 15 years of international research define our expertise in the fields of 5G, IoT, VR and Immersive Technologies, Cybersecurity, Blockchain, Open Big Data and AI. The center partners with companies, public administration, universities and end-users to leverage this knowledge in order to meet real society and business challenges.

 

“Fostering collaboration for an Internet based on intelligent systems and smart technologies.”

 

i2CAT promotes the technology transfer of the innovations and intellectual property outcome of research projects through:

⊗ Fostering strategic alliances to create innovative market-oriented technologies and solutions addressed to the different verticals.

⊗ Coordinating the design and deployment of trials for technological and functional validation purposes with local partners, public administration and users.

⊗ Setting up IPR exploitation agreements, creating mixed R&D teams with companies and boosting and supporting the creation of start-ups.

 

More information about i2CAT, key figures and the Annual Report here.

 

How does Visible Light Positioning work?

Visible light positioning works as the image below shows:

 visible light positioning

 

Ceiling lights emit different codes (blinking patterns) that can be read by the camera of a conventional smartphone, which is, in effect, taking pictures constantly. Thanks to the camera configuration that our app provides, the smartphone “sees” the light fixtures as barcodes that are translated as positions. Knowing the position of the different lights detected, the phone can calculate a specific position.

To make the lights blink, we have created a modulator that can be configured to switch on and off the lights by following the loaded code.

 

How does Visible Light Positioning can benefit disabled people in their day-to-day lives?

Our technology allows a high-accuracy and low-cost positioning system for indoor environments, so it can be used in a very wide range of cases. 

For disabled people, our approach would be to use the position of the individual in order to offer the user information about his/her immediate environment.

One case was the supermarket that you experienced at SCEWC. What we did was recreate a supermarket setting with products on shelves and ceiling lights. When pointing at products with the smartphone camera facing upwards, an audible message could be heard stating the nature of the product. 

In this context, Visible Light Positioning allows blind people to know which products are in front of them, but also allows people with motor disabilities who can not reach the products to read their labels.

But, this technology can have many more uses. For instance, we could deploy our system in subway/train stations, airports, state buildings or public venues as a way to guide people with visual impairments or to facilitate other information when pointing their phones at something (doors, signs, etc.).

 

Do all smartphones have light-sensing capabilities?

 

Yes and no… The only thing we do is take pictures constantly, but our App needs to “talk” with the camera of the phone to explain how to take those pictures in terms of exposure, shutter speed, contrast, etc… The issue is that not all phones have the required level of possibilities to deploy this camera configuration, but most do. We haven’t developed the app for iOS yet.

 

Is i2CAT working on other projects that could directly influence the lives of disabled people in the future?

 

Although we are not specifically targeting disabled people, we do our best to apply our research to society in general so that technology can benefit every citizen.

Vincles BCN is an example. It’s not intended for disabled people but for elders. Vincles BCN is a social innovation project that aims to strengthen the social ties of older people living in Barcelona who feel alone and to improve their well-being through new technologies. Its main objective is to break with the social isolation of the elderly through the establishment of a network of public support and of its personal environment, which includes family, friends, social workers and volunteers through the use of a tablet.

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In this context, Visible Light Positioning allows blind people to know which products are in front of them, but also allows people with motor disabilities who can not reach the products to read their labels.

writer

Zoe Gervais

Zoe Gervais

Content Manager

stay updated

Get the latest news about accessibility and the Smart City.

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5 Must-Have Apps for People with Intellectual Disabilities

5 Must-Have Apps for People with Intellectual Disabilities

5 Must-Have Apps for People with Intellectual DisabilitiesPeople with intellectual disabilities such as Down syndrome or fragile X syndrome have an intellectual development that’s inferior to the population average and learning difficulties. This means they have...

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powered by okeenea

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.

How to Maintain Pedestrian Accessibility When Carrying out Street Works?

How to Maintain Pedestrian Accessibility When Carrying out Street Works?

How to Maintain Pedestrian Accessibility When Carrying out Street Works?

 

When street works and road works impact the road network, the design of accessible routes is essential to ensure that everyone, whether disabled or not, can move safely. If our sidewalks are adapted to our daily movements, their modifications related to punctual or long-term development activities generate multiple nuisances including the disruption of accessible routes for pedestrians.

Among the most affected pedestrians, the disabled.

How can utility companies safely carry out road works while taking into account the needs of the most vulnerable people in their journeys?

Let’s round up the problems encountered, the good practices in such events and the proven solutions in terms of accessibility on construction sites in our cities.

 

Why value street works’ accessibility?

Who is concerned?

Pedestrians that are the most affected by changes in urban space are people with disabilities. Several types of disabilities can affect a pedestrian’s ability to move safely on a construction site: hearing, visual, motor and mental disabilities.

These forms of disabilities represent about 15% of the global population.

 

What are the difficulties encountered?

 

People with visual impairment need a physical environment that is free of sharp edges, uneven levels, and obstructions that can cause tripping or falling.

Some of the difficulties that a visually impaired pedestrian will often face on road and street works include:

⊗ Not knowing the area is being rebuild until it is reached;

⊗ Not knowing if the sidewalk is closed or if a secure walkway has been laid out;

⊗ Not knowing if the street has to be crossed, you have to go straight or turn back and take another route;

⊗ Not knowing if someone nearby could help;

⊗ Not knowing if the construction site is free of any potentially dangerous obstacles.

 

People with reduced mobility mostly use a walking stick, crutches or a wheelchair to get around. Because of their mobility problems, they usually have trouble moving through narrow passages, turning around, and walking down stairs, which is why the installation of ramps is essential to maintaining access.

Pedestrians with reduced mobility also face significant challenges in the event of street works and road works, especially when:

⊗ Temporary access ramps are too steep, flickering or slippery;

⊗ Passages or maneuvers are too narrow for wheelchairs.

Deaf people may have difficulty in:

⊗ Hearing any warning signals;

⊗ Communicating with the workers;

⊗ Maintaining good visibility on the traffic;

⊗ Concentrating because of the background noise.

As for people with mental or psychological disabilities, the difficulties can be related to:

⊗ Lack of landmarks in case of modified itineraries;

⊗ Difficulty locating oneself on maps detailing the construction site;

⊗ Stress management related to the presence of street works;

⊗ Difficulty to reach the usual route and find one’s bearings.

 

Street works’ good practices

It is always the responsibility of site managers to make sure that pedestrians passing the works are safe. This means protecting them from both the works and passing traffic. Site managers must take into account the needs of children, older people and of course disabled people, having particular regard for visually impaired people. 

In order to do this they must provide a suitable barrier system that safely separates pedestrians from hazards and provides a safe route suitable for people using wheelchairs, mobility scooters, prams or pushchairs. Always be on the lookout for pedestrians who seem confused or who are having difficulty negotiating a temporary route, and be prepared to offer assistance.

The Department for Transport of the United Kingdom as issued a Code of Practice “Safety at Street Works and Road Works” in 2013. This document is a relevant example of good practices to carry out during street works in order to ensure accessibility to all users.

 

Protecting pedestrians with a barrier system

If the works are on or near a footway, then there is a risk that pedestrians might enter the working space. The working space will often contain a number of hazards that could harm pedestrians. For example, pedestrians might trip over material, fall into excavations or be struck by moving or falling equipment.

At all static works, pedestrians must be protected by a continuous system of barriers. Where a works site can be approached by pedestrians crossing from the opposite side of the road, barriers should be placed all around the excavation, even when pedestrians are not diverted into the carriageway. 

While working at a site, site managers must: 

⊗ Check that signs and barriers are still in place;

⊗ Ensure that materials or machinery do not go above or move into the pedestrian space;

⊗ Keep a lookout to prevent pedestrians entering the working space. If so, they must stop immediately all machinery movements and escort the pedestrians back onto a safe route.

Ensure the continuity of pedestrian paths

In the event of street alteration, it is essential to ensure accessible continuity of the pedestrian route, taking into account the needs of all users: the elderly, disabled, children, etc. The new path must be installed in priority on the same side of the road, and, as a last resort, on the opposite sidewalk. This could mean, for example, closing the footway and placing a ‘Footway closed’ sign at the works and an advance ‘Footway closed ahead’ sign at a location where it is safe for people to cross the road. It may be necessary to provide footway ramps on either side of the road at this location.

Another alternative, would be to offer assistance to those who might have difficulty to navigate, including wheelchair or mobility scooter users, visually impaired people, or people with pushchairs.

Ideally, the footway should be a minimum of 1.5 metres wide for temporary situations but if this cannot be achieved, the existing footway can be reduced to an absolute minimum of 1 metre unobstructed width.

 

What accessibility solution for visually impaired people?

 

Temporary signages contribute to the accessibility of urban worksites for a large part of the population but they still leave behind 286 million visually impaired people around the world. Indeed, conventional temporary signage does not alert to the presence of a building site and behavior to adopt in case of vision problems.

The human assistance plays a leading role in this case. On-site staff assistance can provide an answer to people in need but is not entirely satisfactory to ensure constant safety and full autonomy for visually impaired people.

The temporary beacon iBalise developed by the company Serfim is a mobile audio device that informs which path to take if changes are affecting the roadway. The latter is triggered remotely with the universal standard remote control used in particular to activate the messages of permanent audio beacons and accessible pedestrian signal. Audio content and volume can be adjusted in accordance to the needs on-site.

 

Open data: a universal accessibility solution

You are using a stroller and you want to avoid an area of ​​road works that would make you cross a busy street? You are using crutches and you prefer to take the shortest route taking into account alteration of your usual pathway? We are all one day likely to face a situation of temporary reduction of our mobility. Thus it becomes essential to be able to plan our trip upstream to avoid any difficulties.

The data collected is vital to 20% of the population living with permanent disabilities and useful to 100% of the population.

To meet this challenge of universal accessibility, the city of Angers proposed in 2017 a mobile application “Angers Info-Works” to alert its citizens of any changes to road and pedestrian routes. By selecting their destination address, users are informed through personalized alerts of any itinerary changes. Like the city of Angers, Streetco – a collaborative GPS for pedestrians – provides information on the presence of temporary obstacles.

Often free, mobile applications are a medium with a strong potential within reach of all.

But a new medium is upsetting that balance. New York City is currently testing a 3rd generation of accessible pedestrian signals at a crossroads in the city center for the first time. Attached to the masts of the intersections, this equipment will eventually be able to transmit information in audio format on the state of the road and changes of routes in the event of construction sites.

If the tests are conclusive, the prospect of collecting data and transmitting it in real time to users, particularly to blind and visually impaired people, provides a very promising urban accessibility solution. This will be interesting to watch…

media

It is always the responsibility of site managers to make sure that pedestrians passing the works are safe. This means protecting them from both the works and passing traffic. Site managers must take into account the needs of children, older people and of course disabled people, having particular regard for visually impaired people. 

writer

Zoe Gervais

Zoe Gervais

Content Manager

stay updated

Get the latest news about accessibility and the Smart City.

other articles for you

share our article!

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5 Must-Have Apps for People with Intellectual Disabilities

5 Must-Have Apps for People with Intellectual Disabilities

5 Must-Have Apps for People with Intellectual DisabilitiesPeople with intellectual disabilities such as Down syndrome or fragile X syndrome have an intellectual development that’s inferior to the population average and learning difficulties. This means they have...

NEVER miss the latest news about the Smart City.

Sign up now for our newsletter.

Unsubscribe in one click. The information collected is confidential and kept safe.

powered by okeenea

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.

How Does the City of Toronto By-law Secure Pedestrian Crossings For Blind People?

How Does the City of Toronto By-law Secure Pedestrian Crossings For Blind People?

How Does the City of Toronto By-law Secure Pedestrian Crossings For Blind People?

 

A previous article has rounded up the difficulties faced by blind and visually impaired Torontonian when crossing the street as well as the existing solutions to tackle them. This new article aims to enlighten on the regulations and initiatives in force at federal, provincial and municipal level regarding pedestrian crossings.

We will give you all the keys to better understand the regulations in place and how it is possible to act in your own way.

 

Federal laws and organizations

All federal laws have been mentioned in a previous article: What Are the Regulations Concerning APS in Montreal?

In this article you will learn about:

⊗ Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) Final Guidelines for Accessible Pedestrian Signals

⊗ Bill C-81 : An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada

In addition, two state-funded associations play a major role in pedestrians’ accessibility:

⊗ The Centre for Active Transportation (CAT) with its program Complete Streets for Canada

⊗ The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) with its program Clearing our Path

The CAT – a project funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada – has initiated a program called Complete Streets for Canada. Its mission is to ensure transportation planners and engineers consistently design and operate the entire street network for all road users, not only motorists but also pedestrians of all ages and abilities.

 

As of January 2019, there are over 100 Complete Streets policies in Canada, in all 10 provinces. In addition to policies, Canadian cities are starting to produce Complete Streets guidelines, most notably in Toronto in 2016.

The Canadian federal government while playing a role in interprovincial transportation systems is not responsible for developing transportation policy at municipal level. However, the federal government can choose to play a role in funding transportation infrastructure and systems at provincial and municipal levels. 

Clearing our Path is a CNIB foundation designed to create accessible environments ­for people impacted by blindness. 

One of their main action is to facilitate street crossing to limit exposure to vehicular traffic by incenting the implementation of islands, raised pedestrian crossings and Accessible Pedestrian Signals.

 

Provincial regulation

 

Ontario Human Rights Code (OHRC), 1962

 

The Ontario Human Rights Code aims at removing existing barriers due to disabilities and avoiding making new ones by designing inclusively:

“The Code protects people from discrimination and harassment because of past, present and perceived disabilities. Disability covers a broad range and degree of conditions, some visible and some not visible. A disability may have been present from birth, caused by an accident, or developed over time.”

 

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), 2005

 

The AODA advocated for a barrier-free society for Ontarians with disabilities.

Amongst other standards, the Ontario regulation 191/11 – Integrated Accessibility Standards section 80.28 – gives details about Accessible Pedestrian Signals characteristics and installation obligations:

“Where new traffic control signal systems with pedestrian control signals are being installed or existing pedestrian control signals are being replaced, the pedestrian control signals must meet the requirements for accessible pedestrian control signals.”

“Accessible pedestrian control signals must meet the following requirements:

⊗ They must have a locator tone that is distinct from a walk indicator tone.

⊗ They must be installed within 1,500 mm of the edge of the curb.

⊗ They must be mounted at a maximum of 1,100 mm above ground level.

⊗ They must have tactile arrows that align with the direction of crossing.

⊗ They must include both manual and automatic activation features.

⊗ They must include both audible and vibro-tactile walk indicators.”

 

How do blind people cross the street safely in Toronto?

 

Municipal regulations and action plans for pedestrian crossings

Toronto Accessibility Design Guidelines

 

The City of Toronto Accessibility Design Guidelines from 2004 regulates the design, planning and construction of accessible facilities and the preparation of accessibility audits.

Section 1.5.1 is dedicated to Accessible Pedestrian Signals:

⊗ “Signals at pedestrian crosswalks should be designed generally in accordance with requirements of the Highway Traffic Act and the Ontario Traffic Manual Book 12 – Traffic Signals.

⊗ Both audible and flashing crossing signals should be provided as an aid to persons who have hearing or visual limitations.

⊗ Audible pedestrian signals should be loud enough to be heard clearly above the ambient noise (i.e.: at least 15 decibels louder than ambient noise).

⊗ Two different audible pedestrian signals, identifying when it is safe to cross either direction, (as indicated by a separate tone) are required for persons with visual disabilities.

⊗ Where extended time is required to cross, (e.g., by seniors and persons with disabilities), a clearly marked pedestrian button should be available and mounted on a pole beside the curb cut, at a maximum height of 1065 mm. 

⊗ Tactile features should be provided as an aid to persons who have both hearing and vision limitations. (ie. A tactile or vibro-tactile feature on pushbuttons.)”

⊗ In locations frequently used by seniors or persons with disabilities, crossing timing should be provided to permit pedestrians, or wheelchair users to cross safely.” 

 

City of Toronto Corporate Accessibility Policy

The City of Toronto’s Accessibility Policy, adopted by Council on June 26, 2018, is a framework for compliance with the City’s commitments to accessibility and the requirements of AODA.

 

The City affirms its commitment to meet the requirements of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) and the Ontario Human Rights Code with 3 main actions:

⊗ The creation of a multi-year accessibility plan (MYAP)

⊗ Provide information about services for people with disabilities

⊗ Create a Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee to implement AODA locally

 

Toronto Vision Zero

 

The Vision Zero Road Safety Plan is an action plan focused on reducing traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries on Toronto’s streets. Launched in July 2016, the Plan prioritizes the safety of the most vulnerable road users through a range of initiatives including Accessible Pedestrian Signals, speed reduction and leading pedestrian intervals. 

In June 2018, Toronto’s council approved $13 million in funding for road safety measures to improve and accelerate the Vision Zero program in the years to come.

For more information on Vision Zero, read our article: Vision Zero a Revolutionary Approach to Road Safety.

 

Toronto complete street guidelines

Complete streets of Toronto – part of the Walk Toronto Program and the federal Complete streets program – is enabling people with special needs to cross with confidence. 

In August 2014, Toronto City Council adopted a Complete Streets policy and in January 2017, Toronto’s Complete Streets Guidelines were released.

Chapter 9 is dedicated to street design for intersections. It includes two accessible and universal design strategies to provide access, predictability, safety and convenience for everyone especially for blind and partially sighted people at intersections:

⊗ tactile warning surface indicators

⊗ accessible pedestrian signals

The City of Toronto, supported by provincial and federal regulations, is implementing many initiatives to make pedestrian crossings safe for blind and visually impaired people like with the installation of APS.

Toronto’s Accessibility Policy that requires the installation of APS at all new crossroads and crossroads that are subject to major renovation allows the City to have 33% of its total signalized intersections equipped with APS systems which is fairly remarquable.

Will the city succeed in implementing its Vision Zero and Complete Street policy for the coming years? Will the number of APS continue to increase? This is the hope of the visually impaired community in Toronto. Ensuring pedestrian crossings are safe for the most vulnerable pedestrians means they’re safe for all, regardless of their profiles and abilities!

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The City of Toronto Accessibility Design Guidelines from 2004 regulates the design, planning and construction of accessible facilities and the preparation of accessibility audits:

⊗ Both audible and flashing crossing signals should be provided as an aid to persons who have hearing or visual limitations.

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Zoe Gervais

Zoe Gervais

Content Manager

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