Environmental Access Committee
Environmental Access continues to be a big issue and each region of the US and Canada has a representative who is available to O&M Specialists in that region, ready to help with information, ideas, requests, or presentations. The job of the regional representative is not to solve all the problems that occur in the region but to educate, inform and act as a liaison between O&M specialists, traffic engineers, and people who are visually impaired. We need many more O&M specialists to become educated, and to make sure that the local solutions found to access problems are both sound and consistent.
You’ve had the opportunity to read detailed reports of our activities in the division newsletter over the past two years and this report will just review, generally, information provided in those articles. EAC representatives from around the country have participated in meetings and training events to get up to speed on the various issues. They’ve been working on developing contacts with O&M Specialists in their region, making presentations to O&M groups, and making contacts with transportation professionals, engineers and city officials. They’ve answered numerous questions from O&M specialists, consumers who are blind, and traffic engineers. Some regions have been really busy and some are a little quieter right now.
Committee members have made presentations at the Transportation Research Board Annual Conference and at national and district meetings of the Institute of Transportation Engineers. Lukas, Beezy and I, as "central committee members", have continued to work with the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (NCUTCD) on changes and refinements to language on Accessible Pedestrian Signals that is in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, adding more specific guidance and standards for speech messages. The NCUTCD also just approved language that standardizes the placement of all pedestrian pushbuttons; it’s not final yet, but it’s getting closer. We are also working with them on language on detectable warnings and pedestrian barriers where crossings are prohibited. And we’re expecting a proposed rule to be published by the Access Board on Public Rights of Way by the end of the year, with an approximately 3-month comment period. The EAC will be developing comments when that rule is published and will provide you with information about it.
Remember, the EAC representative for your region is there to help you with environmental access issues in your area. They may also be able to give a presentation to your local O&M group, AER chapter, traffic engineers or others as requested. And it helps if you keep them posted about what you're doing. The committee goal is keep our EAC representatives informed about changes in regulations and standards, modifications available, and current research so they can be resources for accurate up-to-date information. If you have questions about issues related to environmental access for visually impaired travelers, such as requests for APS, accessibility to a roundabout, transit ADA requirements, or other situations that affect the travel environment, or if you’re interested in getting more involved, contact your regional EAC representative.
Let’s keep on working together to present a united front and consistent information to the engineers and planners who design our intersections.