Projects Recently Completed or In Progress by Accessible Design for the Blind

Guidelines for Accessible Pedestrian Signals
Accessible Design for the Blind, as a subcontractor to the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, has been involved in research, development of guidelines and training on accessible pedestrian signals through the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Project 3-62 and NCHRP 3-62a since 2001.  Materials developed through this project include a comprehensive guide to installation of APS, and a report of research which led to revised recommendations and guidance for the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices in 2009.  Training workshops are currently being conducted.  A comprehensive web site (link below) provides information and training materials.

Completed: July 2014

Access: Guide as a website, Accessible Pedestrian Signals: A Guide to Best Practices

Access: Guide as a pdf, NCHRP Web-Only Document 117A

Access: Contractor’s Final Report of research and project activities, NCHRP Web-only Document 117B

 Common Problems Arising in the Installation of Accessible Pedestrian Signals 
In a separate project, Accessible Design for the Blind developed a bulletin for the US Access Board documenting common installation problems and solutions seen in APS installations in the U.S.

Completed: June 2009

Access: pdf document, Common Problems Arising in the Installation of Accessible Pedestrian Signals

Blind Pedestrians Access to Complex Intersections
This research is being conducted for the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health and involves researchers from Western Michigan University, Vanderbilt University, Boston College, University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, and Johns Hopkins University.  Billie Louise Bentzen is Project Director for research through Boston College; Janet Barlow is a consultant on the Boston College team through ADB.  The first five year study began in June 2000 and included a major task to examine a number of issues related to Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS), including human factors testing of street crossing at unsignalized intersections and signalized intersections without and with APS by participants who are blind.
The project was funded for an additional five years in June 2007 and the ADB team is focusing on laboratory and field research on technologies and materials to aid pedestrians who are blind in aligning to cross streets and maintaining alignment while crossing and on research on the visibility of pedestrian signals to pedestrians with varying levels of vision.

Completed: June 2013

Crossing Solutions at Roundabouts and Channelized Turn Lanes for Pedestrians with Vision Disabilities

NCHRP Project 3-78a evaluated treatments to provide access to roundabouts and channelized turn lanes for pedestrians who are blind.  ADB is working on the project with the Institute for Transportation Research and Education at North Carolina State University, Western Michigan University, and Kittelson and Associates.

Completed: March 2010

Access: Results were published in 2011 in NCHRP Report 674

Universal Text Recognition: A Wayfinding Tool for People with Visual Impairments 
Accessible Design for the Blind is participating as a sub-contractor to the University of Massachusetts on this project.  The goal is to develop software for reading text in complex indoor and outdoor environments. Dr. Bentzen is consulting with key investigators and directing the human factors research associated with the project.

Completed: 2011

Design Guidance for Channelized Right-Turn Lanes 
The goal of NCHRP Project 3-89 is to develop design guidance for construction of channelized right turn lanes, considering needs of all users, including pedestrians with disabilities. Accessible Design for the Blind is a consultant to Midwest Research Institute on the project.

Completed: 2011

Access: Results were published in 2014 in NCHRP Web-Only Document 208

Geometric Design of Driveways 
The objective of the research in NCHRP 15-35 was to develop recommendations for geometric design of driveways. Accessible Design for the Blind’s role was to consult on issues related to the accessibility to pedestrians with disabilities of sidewalks crossing driveways.

Completed: May 2009

Access: Guide published in 2010, A Guide for Geometric Design of Driveways

Access: Paper presented at the Urban Street Symposium, 2007, Driveway design practices, issues, and needs 

Fundamental issues in wayfinding technology 
Accessible Design for the Blind worked with Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute on this project for the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research to develop and validate methods and measures for evaluating assistive technologies for wayfinding for individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

Completed: June 2010

Designing Pedestrian Facilities for Accessibility
Ms. Barlow was a member of the team which developed and revised the full-day course on designing accessible facilities in the public right-of-way for the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals and FHWA.

Completed: 2008

 Detectable Warnings: Synthesis of U.S. and International Practice
This report involved an international and national survey of research, practice and materials for providing under-foot warning to blind pedestrians of the end of the pedestrian way and beginning a vehicular way. It includes case studies on installations of truncated dome detectable warnings in the U.S. ADB was responsible for all phases of writing and publication of this synthesis, the only comprehensive source of information on warning surfaces available in the national and international literature. This project was completed for the Access Board in 2000 and was referenced by the Public Rights of Way Access Advisory Committee (PROWAAC) in making recommendations for detectable warnings at curb ramps.

Completed: 2001

Access: Report as pdf, Detectable Warnings: Synthesis of U.S. and International Practice

Impact of curb ramps on safety of persons who are blind
Dr. Bentzen was principal investigator on this project, and J. Barlow was project director. The project documented that pedestrians who are blind often fail to detect the presence of intersecting streets approached via curb ramps, and established the relationship between curb ramp slope and street detection. Ms. Barlow coordinated the data collection by consultants in eight cities throughout the U.S. on the effect of curb ramps on blind travelers and techniques and cues used by the blind participants. This project was also used by the PROWAAC in making recommendations for detectable warnings at curb ramps.

Completed: 1995

Access: Article published in 1995, Impact of Curb Ramps on the Safety of Persons Who Are Blind

Determining Recommended Language for Speech Messages used by Accessible Pedestrian Signals
New types of pushbutton integrated accessible pedestrian signals are using speech messages to indicate the walk interval information, as well as providing additional information when the pedestrian pushbutton is pushed during the “don’t walk” and “flashing don’t walk” intervals. This research on speech messages for APS was undertaken to develop recommendations based on data from stakeholders to form the basis for the establishment of recommended practice for the structure and content of walk messages and pushbutton messages for directly audible accessible pedestrian signals. Traffic engineers, individuals who are visually impaired or blind, and orientation and mobility specialists were surveyed and recommended messages were developed.

Completed: February 2001

Access: Report as pdf, Determining Recommended Language for Speech Messages used by Accessible Pedestrian Signals

Wayfinding system for transportation services: Remote infrared audible signage for transit stations, surface transit, and intersections.
Dr. Bentzen directed the human factors research (sponsored by NIDRR, Dr. William Crandall, Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, Principal Investigator) in which the remote infrared audible signage was used to provide information in accessible format to pedestrians who were blind. At four signalized intersections in downtown San Francisco, 20 experienced blind travelers made crossings with and without accessible pedestrian signal information. Crossings in which information was accessible were safer, more accurate and more independent.

Completed: 1997

Access: Article published in 1999, Wayfinding System for Transportation Services: Remote Infrared Audible Signage for Transit Stations, Surface Transit, and Intersections

  Work Completed by Principals in Accessible Design for the Blind

Engineering Approaches to Low Vision Rehabilitation
Dr. Bentzen participated on this project, funded by the National Institute of Health, National Eye Institute, through a subcontract to Boston College from Schepens Eye Research Institute, Dr. Eli Peli, principal investigator. Dr. Bentzen examined the effect of various types of visual field enhancement technologies on the real-world travel of persons with hemianopia or retinitis pigmentosa.  The ability of research participants to negotiate in the crowded, busy environment of a mall, their ability to judge gaps in traffic at a complex intersection, and the effects of visual enhancement technologies on cognitive mapping were investigated.

Completed: 2007

Accessible Pedestrian Signals: Curriculum Development
Ms. Barlow and Ms. Bentzen were members of the project team for this project funded by Project ACTION to Western Michigan University which developed a series of curriculum modules on Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) and conducted two national conferences on the topic. The goal of the project was to provide information to O&M specialists, dog guide instructors, travel instructors, traffic engineers and planners, as well as people with disabilities, through the development of training modules. The curriculum was piloted at two conferences and included hands-on experience with APS, simulation activities during street crossings, videos of APS crossings, case studies, small group problem-solving sessions, and use of a participant workbook. Course was made available through NHI.

Completed: December 2003

Addressing Barriers to Blind Pedestrians at Signalized Intersections
This survey was conducted by the Environmental Access Committee of the Orientation and Mobility division of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired. Dr. Bentzen and J. Barlow were major participants in the design and implementation of this survey which documented the problems experienced by pedestrians who are visually impaired at signalized intersections. One thousand orientation and mobility specialists were surveyed regarding the experiences of their clients who are totally blind or who have low vision; results were reported in the ITE Journal and raised awareness about problems of blind pedestrians at intersections.

Completed: December 1998

Access: Abstract and citation (full text not freely available), Addressing Barriers to Blind Pedestrians at Signalized Intersections

  • Published in 2000 in ITE Journal, volume 70, issue 9 (September), pages 32-35

Wayfinding Technologies for People with Visual Impairments: Research and Development of an Integrated Platform.
Ms. Barlow was a consultant to Western Michigan University and University of California, Santa Barbara on this project to develop and test of features of wayfinding technology and identify information needed by pedestrians who are blind or who have low vision. The project was funded by National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research.

Completed: October 2007

 Georgia Pedestrian Guide
Ms. Barlow was a consultant to OTAK, Inc. in development of Georgia Pedestrian and Streetscape Guide for the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Completed: June 2003
Access: Guide as pdf, Georgia Pedestrian and Streetscape Guide

Interfacing Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) with Traffic Signal Control Equipment 
The Access Board funded a project to develop a technical bulletin on the interface of various types of APS with US equipment and controllers. Ms. Barlow is a consultant on the project to David Noyce, University of Massachusetts Department of Traffic Engineering. The primary objective was to create technical report that provides detailed APS product information specifically focused on the interfacing of APS devices and traffic signal controllers. This report provides a detailed description of available APS technologies which provide tone, speech, vibrotactile, directional and/or mapping features for blind pedestrians, a detailed description of traffic signal controllers (and manufacturers) currently used in the U.S. and detailed information on how the APS devices interface with traffic signal controllers. Issues discussed include wiring requirements; power requirements, interaction with conflict monitoring technology, special product installations, pedestrian signal head requirements, and lessons learned from existing installations.

Completed: April 2003

Access: Report as pdf, Interfacing Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) with Traffic Signal Control Equipment