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Designing for Pedestrians with Disabilities:  

Disabled? You're not alone. An estimated 85% of Americans living to full life expectancy will experience some sort of permanent disability sometime in their lifetime. Thankfully, the Americans With Disabilities Act has paved the way for some significant improvements for the 43 million Americans who are disabled. Signed into law on July 26, 1990, the ADA marked a landmark in civil rights, mandating that disabled persons will have full access to all public facilities in the United States.

"One-fifth of the people in this country currently have a disability. When we build something improperly, we're leaving that one-fifth out," notes Barbara McMillen, Transportation Specialist with the FHWA. "Accessibility, project development, and construction must all come together. It's a safety issue. We need to make pedestrian facilities more usable for everyone."

In response to the ADA and the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), the U.S. Department of Transportation has drafted a policy statement calling for measures that will serve to develop a transportation infrastructure that provides access for all, a real choice of modes, and safety in equal measure for each mode of travel.
The US Department of Transportation and the US Access Board have developed a range of technical assistance materials to assist practitioners in meeting the requirements of the ADA and other accessibility laws.

US Access Board

  •  A Checklist for Accessible Sidewalks and Street Crossings

  •  Building a True Community

  •  Regulatory Negotiation Committee on Accessibility Guidelines for Outdoor Developed Areas

  •  Other US Access Board publications


  •  Designing Sidewalks and Trails for Access

  •  Detectable Warnings Memorandum