Curb ramp and accessibility element upgrade prioritization
AbstractCurb ramps are a universally beneficial element of the built environment, providing improved access for all users. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires compliant ramps to be installed with new construction or when a facility is altered. The large quantity of ramps and other facilities that must be upgraded to achieve full compliance, coupled with limited budgets, often requires states to prioritize ramps for retrofit over time. Users with varying disabilities might prioritize curb ramp improvements differently. This study assessed the state of the practice for prioritizing curb ramp upgrades and retrofits. A background review of national standards and guidance related to curb ramps was conducted. Prioritization processes for similar accessibility elements, including sidewalks and accessible pedestrian signals, were gathered through a literature review. State representatives were contacted through an email survey to identify existing prioritization processes for curb ramps. Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines and Proposed Accessibility Guidelines for Pedestrian Facilities in the Public Right-of-Way provide similar standards and guidelines for accessibility. Three studies found that pedestrians with vision disabilities found domed surfaces most detectable, although users with mobility disabilities experienced negative safety and negotiability impacts with detectable warning surfaces. Compliance with accessibility standards and citizen requests were most commonly used for prioritization at the state level; localities were more likely to consider proximity to pedestrian generators and transit. These findings provide a foundational resource for agencies developing or revising prioritization processes for curb ramp retrofits.
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