July 26, 2022 commemorates the 32nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)!
The ADA is an integral part of the design process for planning, construction, and maintaining communities and their transportation infrastructure. The goal is to create safe and connected sidewalks that can be easily navigated by all pedestrians – young, old, caregivers with strollers, people with a disability, individuals with visual impairments, and more. McCormick Taylor's engineers understand the complexities of ADA compliance, including the evolving criteria used to establish reasonable, project-specific scopes for ADA enhancements, as well as the requirements for project documentation.
Not everyone has an issue side-stepping a telephone pole that is anchored in the sidewalk without a bumpout. But for those in wheelchairs, a non-ADA compliant sidewalk could mean that you have to alter your entire route just to get where you’re going.
Below are a few key requirements that must be met to bring pedestrian facilities to full compliance.
The minimum clear width for an ADA-compliant sidewalk without obstruction is five feet to provide adequate space for navigating and passing.
Detectable Warning Surface (DWS)
A detectable warning surface is a standard feature built into the sidewalk or ramp that alerts visually impaired individuals to the presence of a hazard in the line of travel, such as before an approaching street crossing.
Steep slopes encountered at curb ramps or cross slopes of intersecting driveways can be difficult and unsafe to navigate, especially for those using wheelchairs. ADA-compliant design, which can be a challenge for designers when working in confined areas, reduces steep slopes and provides level landing areas.
When possible, to assist pedestrians who are blind or have low vision, ramps at intersections are angled perpendicular to the roadway to provide a straight line crossing to the ramp on the opposite side of the street.
Accessible Pedestrian System (APS)
An accessible pedestrian system uses pedestrian push buttons with audible features to provide information about the WALK and DON’T WALK intervals at signalized intersections in non-visual formats, helping to guide blind or low vision pedestrians crossing the street.