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Warning surfaces.

The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) will conduct a seven-month project with an optional one-year extension to study requirement for the installation of detectable warning surfaces. Currently such surfaces consist of a pattern of small, raised hemispheres intended to warn visually impaired pedestrians of hazards. The requirement for these "truncated domes" was originally included in the Americans With Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG), but the Access Board, at their November 1992 meeting, voted to suspend the provisions for detectable warning surfaces until further research could be conducted.

During the public comment period for ADA, detectable warning surfaces were the subject of considerable discussion. Some opponents argued that they are unnecessary for people who have the proper training and that they can actually be dangerous if people with low vision come to rely on them. Other commenters said the surfaces are hazardous to all pedestrians and wheelchair users, particularly in cold climates subject to ice and snow. Others suggested that the use of detectable surfaces could create attitudinal barriers and misconceptions concerning people with low vision.

Many people in the building industry questioned the long-term durability of the tile products typically used for these surfaces, particularly when they are installed in geographic areas subject to snow removal. Building officials also questioned the feasibility of meeting the specifications for color contrast between the warning areas and the adjacent paving surfaces.

The Access Board is initiating the new study to address the need for and effectiveness of these warning surfaces. The study will include postconstruction evaluation of their performance at typical installations such as curb ramps and sidewalks.

Detectable warning surfaces have been the subject of debate for many years. Early systems used patterns with grooves, for example, which often became filled with dirt, floor wax, ice, or snow. As a result the grooves became less effective, and the patterns made cleaning and maintenance of the floor surface more difficult. Therefore, many code officials gradually stopped enforcing the standard. The Access Board study should provide much-needed answers to those types of concerns.


A new National Accessible Apartment Clearinghouse has been established in Washington, D.C., to provide rental information to people with disabilities and apartment managers. It will respond to consumer as well as industry needs.

The shortage of available accessible apartment units has proved frustrating for individuals seeking special accommodations and for apartment managers who can't locate people who need accessible units. The clearinghouse is funded by the National Apartment Association, the Fannie Mae Foundation, the Patrician Financial Company, and American Corporate Software. It will match residents to available apartments. For additional information about this service, contact the National Accessible Apartment Clearinghouse, Suite 900, 1111 Fourteenth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005. (800) 421-1221.

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Title Annotation:for visually impaired pedestrians
Author:Beasley, Kim
Publication:PN - Paraplegia News
Date:Jun 1, 1993
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