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Access to Mass Transit for Blind and Visually Impaired Travelers.

Containing firsthand information from visually impaired travelers, orientation and mobility professionals and mass transit experts, this handbook provides a unique look at the special needs of visually impaired users of mass transit and the critical role orientation and mobility practitioners play in meeting those needs.

The book offers a wealth of interesting solutions to specific problems faced by blind and visually impaired users of mass transit. For example, the drop-off from the platform edge to the tracks in subway and train stations is an area of great concern to visually impaired rail users. In his chapter entitled "Detecting the Platform Edge in Rapid Rail Systems," Ralph S. Weule, department manager, safety and investigations, Bay Area Rapid Transit (California), evaluates the effectiveness of several tactile-edge warning systems.

Comments by blind and visually impaired travelers who contributed to this publication suggest that providing clear and concise information about the lay-out and operation of the transit system in alternative formats and making better use of existing public address systems would greatly improve safety and accessibility. The book contains a resource list that includes sources of equipment and materials such as tactile maps and bus number identifiers.

High-tech solutions are also explored. "New technology offers many accommodations that are not costly and could be adopted by mass transit systems in the relatively near future," says Alec Peck, Ph.D., senior research associate, Center for the Study of Testing, Evaluation and Educations Policy, Boston College. "Two devices that are currently being tested--Auditory Pathways, which use electronically programmed loudspeakers to guide visually impaired travelers to different locations in the transit station, and Auditory Beacons, that confirm the presence of an open railcar doorway through the use of an acoustic signal--are possible systemwide innovations that could make rapid rail travel more accessible to blind and visually impaired travelers.

Other solutions include a talking bus stop system; a tactile map that contains a three-dimensional model and a series of a audiotape messages, assorted tactile and electronic guiding systems; partitions on bus and rail platforms; and the use of a tactile marker to indicate exactly where one can board a bus.
COPYRIGHT 1990 U.S. Rehabilitation Services Administration
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:American Rehabilitation
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 22, 1990
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