ADA Sidewalk Requirements in 2020

newly paved sidewalk with detectable warning system

The leading manufacturer of detectable warning surface products, ADA Solutions is committed to helping meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Our detectable warning tiles, truncated dome mats, and other products help comply with the latest ADA standards. These adhere to the minimum requirements of the revised “2010 Standards.”

The ADA was passed to help make public facilities more accessible to people who use wheelchairs, scooters, and other mobility devices. Its guidelines ensure they have room to maneuver and travel. However, it is not limited to restrooms, doors, and other elements of public facilities. Streets and sidewalks must be compliant as well.

Facilities must consider everything from the required ADA sidewalk width to the slope where curb ramps are required.

newly paved sidewalk with detectable warning system

Do Sidewalks Have to Be ADA Compliant?

The ADA requires every path of travel in or around a facility, including streets, sidewalks, and curb ramps, to be accessible. Still applicable in 2019, the standards apply to state and local government facilities, commercial establishments, and public accommodations. Any building or project started on or after March 15, 2012 is required to use the 2010 Standards. Requirements applicable to sidewalks include those regarding:

Slope

An ADA sidewalk ramp cannot have a cross slope (distance from the bottom edge of a level to the surface) of more than ½ inch. A ramp is a running slope steeper than 1:20, meaning for every inch of height change, there are at least 20 inches of route run. Slope requirements for bus stop boarding and alighting areas, as with rail platforms, must be perpendicular to the roadway and not steeper than 1:48. The exception being where vehicles are boarded from sidewalks or street level, where platforms must be less than 8 inches high.

Width

The clear width between the handrails of a ramp run must be at least 36 inches. In work areas where essential equipment is used, the width can be reduced to accommodate it. The ADA sidewalk ramp rules also limit the rise for any ramp to 30 inches and require a clear landing length of at least 60 inches. If ramps change direction at landings, there should be a landing of at least 60 x 60 inches.

Curb Ramps

Curb ramps are required for newly built and altered streets, roads, and intersections or anywhere there are curbs or other barriers from the street to a pedestrian walkway. The ADA limits curb ramp steepness to no greater than 1:12 (an 8.33% slope), a width of 36 inches, and adjacent counter slopes of no steeper than 1:20. If curb ramp flares are used, they cannot be steeper than 1:10.

Also, curb ramps and flared sides cannot project into parking spaces, parking access aisles, or vehicular traffic lanes. On the bottom, diagonal curb ramps must have 48 inches of space within crossing markings or outside of traffic lanes. For raised islands, curb ramps must have a level area of at least 48 inches long by 36 inches wide.

Surface Texture

Textured surfaces (i.e., detectable warnings with truncated domes) must adhere to ADA sidewalk requirements for size, spacing, and contrast. Truncated domes must have a base diameter between 0.9 and 1.4 inches, a top diameter from 50% to 65% of the base, and a base-to-base spacing of at least 0.65 inches. There must be visual contrast with walking surfaces near it (with a light-on-dark or dark-on-light contrast). Also, any surface at a platform boarding edge must be at least 24 inches wide and cover the full length of public use areas.

Contact ADA Solutions for Standards-Compliant Detectable Warning Tiles

Our fiberglass polymer composite detectable warning surface tiles meet ADA sidewalk requirements for width, slope, and texture. Manufactured in an ISO 9002 certified facility, our cast-in-place and surface-applied panels are uniform in color and UV stable while being ADA-compliant for 2019. Browse our website to learn more about our surface tiles and relevant government regulations; or, call 800-372-0519 for a free quote.

How to Promote Pedestrian Safety

Several pedestrians walking across the street in a crosswalk at night

In 2018, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported a total of 6,283 pedestrian deaths due to traffic accidents—an increase of over 3% from previous numbers. While the government and other organizations have done their best to inform pedestrians about proper traffic safety and keep them aware and alert to their surroundings, there is only so much that can be done from their side of the issue.

To truly address the risks and reduce the number of fatalities from pedestrian-vehicle crashes, it is equally important that city planners, businesses, and other property owners do their part to promote safety and protect those who cross their property on foot.

Who Is Considered a Pedestrian?

A pedestrian is generally defined as any individual who is walking, running, jogging, or otherwise moving on foot. Depending on the state, the legal definition of who is considered a pedestrian may also include anyone using a human-powered vehicle other than a bicycle, such as a non-motorized wheelchair, scooter, skateboard, or roller/inline skates.

Drivers of cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other such motor vehicles are obviously not pedestrians. A person riding a bike is also typically not considered a pedestrian, though they may be considered one if they are walking with their bike rather than riding it.

The Importance of Keeping Pedestrians Safe

Protecting pedestrians from traffic accident injuries is important for a number of reasons. Most importantly, a pedestrian who is hit by a car can be seriously hurt, leading to chronic pain, permanent disability, or even death. This can leave victims and their families struggling to cope with physical, financial, and emotional stress that drastically affects their lives. Similarly, the driver of the vehicle involved may face serious legal repercussions or life-threatening injuries themselves.

Ambulance and cars driving over a pedestrian crosswalk in a the city

From the perspective of the owner of the property where the accident occurred, a crash involving one or more pedestrians can present an issue of liability. If the accident is in any way affected by poor signage, lax safety measures, or improper maintenance on the premises, the property owner may be held at least partially liable for the accident and suffer both financial losses and harm to their public image.

How to Ensure Protection on Your Property

The following are just a few ways you can make your property better for pedestrians and keep your business, employees, and customers safe from the repercussions of pedestrian accidents.

Provide Dedicated Pedestrian Walkways

Make sure that anyone who visits or works on your property is able to get around on foot via dedicated pedestrian areas like crosswalks, sidewalks, and other appropriate walking paths. Pedestrian walkways that cross over roads or parking lots should always be clearly marked as such so that both drivers and pedestrians can recognize the area. Sidewalks and other paths should be easily accessible to pedestrians and connect up with crosswalks where appropriate.

Know what your state and local laws are regarding these walkways and be sure to obey all requirements to protect both pedestrians and yourself.

Put Up Appropriate Signage

Use signs directing traffic to stop, slow, or yield to pedestrians wherever they are needed. Adding either a stop or yield sign to a crosswalk helps clarify to drivers that they must give pedestrians an opportunity to cross at that location. This can be especially helpful in areas where drivers seem to ignore crosswalks or weather makes it difficult to see the painted lines on the ground.

Again, make sure to observe any applicable state and local laws regarding required signage and how it should be used.

Keep Parking Lots and Other High-Traffic Areas Well-Maintained

If your parking lot and/or sidewalks are full of hazards, it increases the chance that drivers and/or pedestrians can get into accidents of all kinds. If there is a pothole in your lot, for example, a driver may swerve around it into pedestrian crossing areas. Similarly, an uneven sidewalk along the roadside may cause a pedestrian to stumble out into traffic.

Proper maintenance also means keeping all signage and painted lines clear and visible. Make sure that pedestrian crossings are properly and clearly marked, and that “stop,” “yield,” and other signs are legible and not obscured by any landscaping or objects. A faded crosswalk with a sun-bleached stop sign may make it clear enough to drivers that they should be prepared to stop. Likewise, pedestrians who can’t see the crosswalk may just cross wherever, without realizing there is a safer place for them to walk.

Promote a Culture of Safety in the Workplace

If you’re a business owner, it’s a good idea to promote pedestrian safety as part of your training, as well as support an overall culture of safety throughout the workplace. If you don’t already have one, enact a workplace safety program and get employees thinking about hazard reduction and personal protection. Discuss ways to stay safe, both inside and outside the building, including in parking lots, loading zones, and other areas where vehicles and pedestrians may coexist.

Use ADA Tactile Warning System Products

Not all of the pedestrians who step onto your property are capable of perceiving hazards like the average person. In the U.S., there are more than 7.6 million adults living with some kind of visual disability. For these individuals, bright signage and clearly marked crosswalks simply won’t be as effective as they would for someone fully sighted. To keep these pedestrians safe, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires the use of specialized detectable warning surfaces.

The ADA is a piece of legislation that outlines requirements for the fair treatment and accessibility needs of Americans living with a variety of disabilities. The act’s detectable warning surface requirements dictate that certain areas should have tactile surfaces that can be felt physically by those who cannot see where crosswalks, curbs, and vehicles may be. When a visually impaired person steps onto these surfaces, they’ll be able to feel that they are nearing a potentially hazardous area.

Specifically, the ADA requires that all tactile warning surfaces use what is known as a “truncated dome” pattern, which is essentially repeating rows of bumps with their domed tops cut off. The ADA also details the exact specifications to which these domes must be manufactured in order to provide maximum detectability without being slippery or creating a trip hazard themselves.

A close-ip of a truncated dome pattern on a silver metallic tactile warning surface

Detectable warning tiles can be installed along sidewalk curbs, crosswalk transition ramps, subway platforms, etc. to alert visually impaired persons to their location and prevent them from falling into unsafe areas or walking into traffic. They can be manufactured in a variety of colors, but a bright, high-contrast color like yellow is often chosen because it adds an additional visual cue for fully or partially sighted individuals.

Find Durable, Compliant Tactile Warning Panel Products at ADA Solutions

At ADA Solutions, we manufacture a range of ADA-compliant detectable warning surface products to suit a variety of applications. Choose from products like surface-applied, cast-in-place, and cast-in-place replaceable tiles, as well as radius systems for curved areas, extra-durable cast iron surfaces, replaceable graphic tiles, photoluminescent systems, and convenient way-finding surfaces.

Whether you’re laying new walkways for a new project or need to quickly retrofit existing sidewalks with surface-applied tiles, we offer expertly manufactured, slip-resistant, long-lasting tactile warning products to help you meet government requirements and protect pedestrians on your property.

To learn more about the ADA requirements or discuss your detectable warning surface needs, call us today at 1-800-372-0519. You can also request a free quote online.
Sources:

  1. https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/pedestrian-safety
  2. https://www.nfb.org/resources/blindness-statistics

How the ADA Improves Life for People with Disabilities

white walking cane positioned between tactile yellow lines

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a landmark civil rights law. Passed in 1990 by the first Bush Administration, the ADA has changed life immeasurably for millions of people with disabilities.

One of the ADA’s greatest impacts has been in making public spaces more accessible via tactile warning surfaces, curb cuts, wheelchair ramps, and other aids. It also helps prevent discrimination in employment and education, helping to level the playing field for all members of society, regardless of physical or mental ability.

As one survey respondent told researchers at the University of Texas:

“I am able to work, volunteer at my son’s school, and receive help
from government agencies because of the ADA. Most importantly, I
am able to be a vibrant part of the community because of the ADA,
which has a big impact on people with and without disabilities.”

Life Before the ADA’s Passage

Imagine being turned down for a job because of a speech disability even though you’re able to perform all the required duties of the job. Or not being able to enter a courthouse or use public transportation because there are no wheelchair ramps. This was the reality 50 million people with disabilities faced every day before the ADA was passed.

Even when accommodations did exist, they were often inadequate, making it difficult for people with disabilities to get around and use public services. By passing the ADA, America prioritized inclusiveness.

A beach wheelchair parked on a sandy beach

Who Is Protected by the ADA?

The ADA defines a disability as any physical, mental, or psychological impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. Examples include a physical disability that makes a person unable to walk or a mental disorder, such as schizophrenia, that limits a person’s ability to work.

The ADA broadly defines the term “impairment” as any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss that affects one or more body systems, including:

  • Cardiovascular
  • Neurological
  • Digestive
  • Reproductive
  • Endocrine
  • Respiratory
  • Genito-urinary
  • Skin
  • Hemic and lymphatic
  • The sensory organs
  • Musculoskeletal

Impairment does not include physical characteristics such as typical height or weight deviations or common personality traits (such as shyness). It also does not include illegal drug use. 

ADA Titles I-IV

The ADA is broken up into five sections or “titles.”

  • Title I – Employment

This section protects impaired individuals from discrimination in employment.

  • Title II – Public Services: State and Local Government

This section prohibits discrimination against those with disabilities by “public entities” (state and local governments).

  • Title III – Public Accommodations and Services Operated by Private Entities

This section prohibits public spaces from discriminating against those with disabilities; this includes privately owned or operated facilities, such as hotels, restaurants, health clubs, movie theaters, etc.   

  • Title IV – Telecommunications

This section sets standards for telephone and internet companies. Communication systems must allow those with hearing and speech disabilities to communicate, and federally funded public service announcements (PSAs) must include closed captioning.

  • Title V – Miscellaneous Provisions

This section contains various provisions pertaining to the ADA and contains a list of conditions not considered disabilities.

A sight impaired person using a braille directory at a building to find an office

Criticism and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008

The ADA has improved life for millions of people, but it’s not without its critics, especially when it comes to employment. Critics have argued that the ADA decreases the employment rate for people with disabilities because it raises the cost of doing business for employers; as a result, critics say, employers quietly avoid hiring people with disabilities.1

In the early years after enactment, there was evidence that the employment rate among men with disabilities dropped,1 but a later study found this was a short-term reaction, concluding that the ADA has ultimately resulted in neutral or positive gains in employment among disabled people.2

In 2008, the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) was signed into law, broadening the definition of disability.  By making it clearer that the ADA is intended to provide broad coverage to protect anyone who faces discrimination on the basis of disability, the ADAAA has led to greater coverage of impaired employees.

Disabled people and civil rights groups continue to fight for better protections for disabled people and for the elimination of discriminatory activities. A recent example involves demands that the University of California eliminate the SAT and ACT as an admission requirement in order to prevent discrimination of disabled students.3

How ADA Requirements Help People with Disabilities Get Around 

Among the most visible ways the ADA has changed public spaces is requiring curb cuts in sidewalks, wheelchair ramps, handicap parking spaces, and detectable warning surfaces (such as the colorful bumpy surfaces outside store entrances, public walkways, and many other spaces).

These simple but effective solutions have changed the game for people with disabilities. As one person put it, “The ADA has helped people gain access to public accommodations with attention to things like curb ramps, accessible parking, buses with lifts and ramps, etc.”

An elderly couple using the wheelchair ramp on a bus

ADA Solutions: Making Public Spaces More Accessible for the Disabled

ADA Solutions is North America’s leading manufacturer of detectable warning surfaces (also called tactile warning surfaces). For more than 20 years, we have provided contractors, engineers, architects, and distributors with long-lasting detectable warning surfaces.

These surfaces are required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and must be installed along public rights-of-way for accessibility. The surfaces must also meet specific guidelines for geometric shape, height, alignment, and spacing of the truncated domes (surface bumps).  

All ADA Solutions products meet these requirements and are compliant with ADAAG, PROWAG, International Standards Organization, World Health Organization, AODA, CSA, and California Title 24.

ADA Solutions is proud of the role it plays in making public and private spaces more accessible to people with disabilities. Learn more about our products and contact us for a free quote. 

Sources:

  1. https://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/regulation/2000/4/deleire.pdf
  2. https://www.nber.org/digest/nov04/w10528.html
  3. https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-10-29/california-groups-demand-uc-drop-the-sat-saying-they-illegally-discriminate-against-disadvantaged-students

The Importance of Tactile Warnings

Blind man with a white cane walking on the road

An estimated 1.3 billion people worldwide are living with some degree of visual impairment, from moderate issues that can be corrected with glasses to total legal blindness.¹ In the United States alone, more than three million people are visually impaired.²

With so many people living with vision problems, we as a society have developed ways to make sure they get the same opportunities and respect that sighted people do. One especially valuable tool is what’s called a “tactile warning surface.”

What Are Tactile Warning Surfaces?

Tactile warnings—also known as ADA tactile surfaces, detectable warning surfaces, and other similar names—are specialized textured surfaces that help those with limited or no vision navigate by feel using their feet and/or a cane. The texture consists of a series of bumps in a “truncated dome” shape that’s both easily recognizable and safe to walk on.

Warning surfaces are available in a variety of colors, but installers very often choose a color that contrasts strongly with the surface the tiles will be anchored into. This high-contrast appearance helps the warnings stand out even more for people who still have some degree of sight.

Tactile warning tiles are also made from highly durable materials for a long lifespan even in areas of heavy foot traffic. ADA Solutions, for example, uses materials like carbon composite, fiberglass, and cast iron for sturdy results that resist wear for a very long time.

Types of Detectable Warning Products

Warning surfaces can be made in a variety of sizes and types. At ADA Solutions, we offer tiles in several standard sizes for flexible applications. We produce a few types of tiles with different installation methods and capabilities to suit various needs.

Standard cast-in-place tiles are meant to be installed while the surrounding surface is being constructed but cannot be replaced once they’re installed. Cast-in-place replaceable tiles are also meant to be installed during initial construction but are designed to be removed from their anchors and replaced with new surfaces over time.

Surface applied tactile warning tiles are meant to be used on existing surfaces, making them ideal for retrofit applications. If you’re tasked with bringing an existing area into ADA compliance, this type of tile allows you to correct any compliance issues without major reconstruction.

The Legal Requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act

In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law, instigating numerous changes to buildings, walkways, and other spaces that would make things more accessible to individuals living with disabilities. Today, the U.S. Access Board continues to update and enforce ADA requirements for accessibility and fair treatment.

An example of the changes required by this law was the addition of “curb cuts,” the ramps that we see today wherever walkways intersect curbs. Covering these kinds of transitional areas with the truncated dome texture makes it much easier to feel the ramps than it would be if they were simply printed with a texture.

Failing to comply with ADA tactile warning requirements can have major repercussions. In addition to the potential for personal injury lawsuits, ADA violations can result in hefty fines. For a first violation, the penalty can be as high as $75,000. For additional violations, the maximum penalty jumps to $150,000.³ Of course, the actual penalty amount assessed will depend upon the type and severity of the violation.

Tactile Warnings Are Used All Around Us

Even if you have perfect vision, you may not have noticed just how many tactile surfaces are around you wherever you go. In fact, they’ve become so commonplace that it’s easy to simply overlook them. Take a look at a few of the most common places detectable warning surfaces can be found.

At the Ends of Crosswalks

ADA tactile surfaces are used to alert visually impaired pedestrians that they are about to enter or exit a crosswalk. This way, they know when they’ve left the sidewalk as well as when they’ve finished crossing. Once they feel the texture change again, they know they’ve reached the sidewalk on the other side.

In some areas, the entire crosswalk may be paved with detectable warning tiles. To stay inside the crosswalk in these cases, visually impaired individuals simply need to make sure they can feel the truncated dome surface.

Several people crossing the street on a pedestrian crossing in a busy city street

At Sidewalk Curbs

In some areas, detectable warning surfaces are placed along the roadside edge of the sidewalk. These warnings are used to let visually impaired people know that they are nearing the edge of the curb and are close to the road. Without these warnings, people could find themselves at risk of injury from tripping over curbs or being struck by vehicles.

Along Unsafe Edges at Transit Stations

Like the warning surfaces used to indicate sidewalk curbs, tactile warning strips are required to be placed along the length of train/subway platforms and other potentially dangerous areas at transit stations. This helps protect visually impaired individuals against the risk of falling off the platform and onto the tracks.

A subway station with the required tactile warning strip placed along the length of the platform

In Parking Lots

Parking lots often don’t have clear curbs or separations between driver and pedestrian areas. To prevent accidents between drivers and visually impaired persons, businesses and public organizations can provide physical guidance with tactile warnings. When a visually impaired person feels the surface, they know they’re approaching an area where cars will be moving through the lot.

Around Water Features like Reflecting Pools

The need for detectable warning surfaces isn’t limited to sidewalks and roadways. The ADA also requires the use of tactile warnings around reflecting pools (like the one on the National Mall) so that visually impaired people won’t fall in.

Tactile Warning Surfaces Save Lives Every Day

Detectable warnings are a matter of life and death. Even a person with only mild visual impairment runs a higher risk of being hurt in an accident than those with an average level of sight. For those with severe vision loss, the ability to use other senses to navigate is absolutely essential to protecting them from accidentally walking into dangerous areas.

In a 2012 study, researchers found that individuals who were blind and could only hear their surroundings were not as accurate in their street-crossing decisions as their sighted and impaired counterparts.⁴ For these individuals, the inclusion of tactile warning surfaces could make all the difference.

Tactile Warnings Also Benefit Businesses and Communities

In addition to meeting legal requirements, state and local governments, communities, and commercial businesses can all benefit from the installation of tactile warning surfaces. Consider the following examples:

  • A stronger focus on accessibility can help revitalize a community and send a clear message to prospective residents that they are strongly dedicated to the equitable treatment of people with disabilities.
  • Retrofitting an older property with appropriate ADA-Compliant warning surfaces can make business parking lots safer, reducing liability risks and encouraging patronage by those with visual or other impairments.
  • The bright visual cues presented by tactile warning surfaces can serve as an additional reminder to drivers that they should take care in those areas and watch carefully for pedestrians.

Protect Customers and Employees with Durable, ADA-Compliant Tactile Warning Surfaces from ADA Solutions

At ADA Solutions, we’re proud to say our heavy-duty, slip-resistant ADA tiles and wayfinding surfaces are the most trusted tactile warning products in the world. We manufacture and sell a variety of detectable warning tiles and systems to meet our customers’ many unique needs, from city improvements to retrofits for older business properties.

To learn more about our detectable warning surface products or request a free quote, call us today at (800) 372-0519.

Sources:

  1. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/blindness-and-visual-impairment
  2. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/visual-impairment-blindness-cases-us-expected-double-2050
  3. https://www.ada.gov/civil_penalties_2014.htm
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3358127/

How Can Detectable Warning Surfaces Improve Safety in Transit Facility?

Blind female passenger waiting for a subway train

The use of detectable warning surfaces in transit facilities makes access by those with visual impairments and disabilities much easier. The tactile warning surfaces help provide guidance to the appropriate platform, while at the same time serve as a warning. The raised domes on the tiles indicate caution should be used and could signify encountering platform drop-offs, entering hazardous areas, or approaching the curb of a busy intersection.

The tactile warning surfaces even help people without visual impairments. For example, a person is reading a text message on their smartphone while walking toward the train platform. If there were not any warning surfaces along the edge, the person would walk right off and onto the tracks. Thanks to warning surfaces, the person feels the change in the surface and, hopefully, looks up to see they are at the edge of the platform.

Additionally, the use of truncated domes on warning surfaces helps people find their way in lower and reduced light levels. When combined with special illuminating photoluminescent warning surface systems, the panels light up to help guide people.

Where and When Are Detectable Warning Surfaces Required?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil law that was passed in 1990 and signed into law by President Bush. The law details a wide range of disability standards and requirements and provides protections for those with disabilities. One particular section of the ADA refers to the use of detectable warning surfaces.

The ADA is just one set of requirements which one must consider. The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the United States Access Board also release requirement standards which can vary from the ADA but must be followed.

Since the ADA was passed, there have been a few updates to it. The ADA was updated in 2001 and again in 2010. Both the USDOT and U.S. Access Board have also made updates to requirements and guidelines for use of tactile warning surfaces in transit facilities and public areas.

The updates issued by the U.S. Access Board and the USDOT can be found within the ADASTF (ADA Standards for Transportation Facilities) and the ADASAD (ADA Standards for Accessible Design).

In 2012 the USDOT Issued a standard update for the use of ADA detectable warning surfaces in transit facilities. The most recent standards are less demanding than the 2001 standards. Currently, the use of ADA detectable warning surfaces is required on the edges of transit platforms and on curb ramps considered in the public right-of-way.1

Which Requirements and Guidelines Should Be Used When Designing or Renovating a Facility?

In addition to the federal requirements for the use of tactile warning surfaces, each city, county, and state can have their own specific requirements. When designing or renovating a public transit facility, it is important to refer to your local and state requirements and compare these to the specific ADASTF and ADASAD requirements.

When comparing the ADASTF and ADASAD, you will notice there are a few differences between the two. The ADASTF includes four specific modifications in regards to:

  • Location of Accessible Routes (206.3)
  • Detectable Warnings on Curb Ramps (406.8)
  • Bus Boarding and Alighting Areas (810.2.2)
  • Rail Station Platforms (810.5.3)2

Furthermore, the U.S. Access Board created and issued guidelines for making public areas accessible to help bridge the gap between the ADA standards and the ADASTF and ADASAD requirements. These guidelines are known as PROWAG (Public Rights of Way Accessibility Guidelines). There were initially released in 2005 with updates in 2011.3

While the PROWAG is not considered enforceable under the law, it does provide guidance in areas where the ADA standards, ADASTF, and ADASAD do not address a specific issue or concern. In other words, the PROWAG helps facilities design and plan renovations which are considered safe practices for accessible right of ways for people with disabilities.

In addition to the ADA standards, ADASTF, ADASAD, and PROWAG guidelines, transit facilities must also adhere to their state and local building codes and accessibility codes. If a state and local accessibility code are different from that from the other federal laws and guidelines, then the facility must follow the state and local requirement.

Closeup of the orange truncated domes used on detectable warning surfaces

If Requirements and Guidelines Are Updated Does a Facility Also Have to Update?

When a transit facility is first built, it must adhere to the current state, local, ADA, ADASTF, and ADASAD requirements, as well as take into consideration PROWAG guidelines. For instance, a new public transportation facility is constructed in 2006. This facility would be required to adhere to all updates as of 2006 to ensure accessibility compliance.

In 2016, a renovation and addition to the facility were planned. Any new additions to the facility, as well as areas being renovated, would then fall under the latest and most recent ADA, ADASTF, ADASAD requirements. The planned renovations should also take into account the current PROWAG guidelines. However, any areas of the facility not being renovated would not have to be updated to the current standards and recommendations.

Are the Requirements and Guidelines the Same for Bus and Rail Transit Systems?

There can be differences between the requirements for bus and rail transit systems. Bus stations can be required to have accessible boarding and alighting areas. These could include the use of non-slip surfaces, truncated domes, benches, shelters, and other accessibility accommodations. Yet, along bus routes, the used of warning surfaces may fall to the city or those responsible for the sidewalks at each bus stop.

The use of detectable warning surfaces is required on any platform area of rail transit systems to indicate where the edge of the platform is located. Normally, the raised warning surface is set back several feet from the edge, so it allows people with visual impairments sufficient time to stop.

Additionally, rail stations may use a combination of warning surfaces with truncated domes and way-finding ridges to help visually impaired people find an accessible path they can follow to board trains more easily. Some rail stations will also use warning surfaces on the edge of stairwells to indicate a drop-off, as well as on each stair so visually impaired people can tell where the drop off is for each step.

What Are the Requirements for Airports and Cruise Terminals?

Both airports and cruise terminals are also considered transit facilities. Airports will follow the appropriate local, state, and federal requirements, as well as PROWAG guidelines. Cruise terminals must use similar methods for ensuring compliance and the safety of passengers embarking and disembarking their vessels.

Are Transit Facilities Required to Use a Specific Color of Detectable Warning Surfaces?

The federal ADA standards allow transit facilities the freedom to choose any color of detectable warning surfaces they want to use, although the color selected must be a contrasting color to the color of the floor within the facility or on the transit platform.

However, local and state requirements could be more specific and require a mandatory color of warning surfaces. For example, the state of California has adopted and requires the use of yellow-colored warning surfaces as part of the state’s accessibility requirements in specific locations.

Bus stop at night showing the detectable warning surface installed around the bus benches

Which Types of Detectable Warning Surfaces Are Best?

There are many different types of materials used to make detectable warning surfaces, including rubber, plastic, polymer, cast iron, fiberglass, carbon, and other composite materials. Ideally, you should look for the best-quality panels since they will last the longest and not need to be replaced as often.

For instance, rubber and plastic tactile warning surfaces can quickly wear out and get damaged, with pieces of the panel ripping off. Not only is the warning surface no longer effective, it has also become a safety hazard, as someone could more easily trip and get injured.

Transit facilities should consider using high-quality solid panels, as these are much more durable. To make replacement easier without having to tear up the platform, curb, or other location when panels are used, it is highly recommended to use cast-in-place panels.

Cast-in-place panels are anchored in place using bolts. If the panel wears out from heavy foot traffic or cracks or breaks for some reason, then a new panel can be installed by simply removing the bolts from the existing panel. The existing panel is then removed and a new one is set in place and re-secured with the same bolts and anchors.

For assistance in finding and selecting the best detectable warning surfaces to meet federal, state, and local requirements and guidelines for transit facilities, please feel free to contact ADA Solutions at (800) 372-0519 today!

Sources:

  1. https://www.transit.dot.gov/regulations-and-guidance/civil-rights-ada/final-rule-adopting-new-accessibility-standards-effective
  2. https://www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/transportation/facilities/ada-standards-for-transportation-facilities
  3. https://www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/streets-sidewalks/public-rights-of-way/proposed-rights-of-way-guidelines

Who Benefits When Public Spaces Are Made Accessible to Everyone?

A sidewalk curb ramp which has a yellow detectable surface ramp installed

When public spaces are improved and made accessible, everyone benefits. To illustrate, consider the curb ramp. This change to sidewalks at intersections and store entrances made it possible for people with mobility issues to have easier access. Curb ramps first started to appear in the late 1940s.

At that time, they were considered an accessibility benefit. However, today that is no longer the case. Instead, curb ramps benefit everyone regardless of whether they have a disability. They make it easier for people with visual impairments to transition from one surface to another. They help people who are carrying heavy bags. They even benefit people who are pushing a stroller or handcart to make deliveries.

A curb ramp which has a yellow detectable surface ramp installed

A curb ramp which has a detectable warning surface installed so sight-impaired pedestrians know where to safely exit the sidewalk

A curb ramp that has a detectable warning surface installed so sight-impaired pedestrians know where to safely exit the sidewalk.This is just one example of how one simple improvement benefited everyone. Another great example is the use of detectable warning surface tiles. Initially, these tiles with raised truncated domes were developed to aid people who have visual impairments or are blind. Today, the use of these tiles also benefits:

 

  • People with Disabilities: Curb ramps and warning surface tiles help all sorts of people with disabilities. The raised domes help provide traction so wheelchairs move easily over the surface. For the visually impaired, the tiles alert them they need to take caution like when near a busy intersection.
  • Elderly: If you have joint pain or have to use a walker or cane to get around, the use of both curb ramps and warning surfaces provides easier access to public spaces. You do not have to worry about having to raise your leg or the walker or cane up over a curb. Plus, the raised domes provide solid footing to reduce the risks of slipping and falling down.
  • Distracted People: Have you ever been texting or reading social media posts while walking down the sidewalk? Many people do and, without ADA detectable warning surface tiles, people would walk right out into a busy intersection and potentially get hit by a car. The tiles can be felt underfoot, so it lets you know you need to look up from your smartphone.
  • Children: Most children know that when they encounter a warning surface with raised domes, they need to stop and wait for assistance crossing the street. The use of warning surfaces stops them from entering busy intersections, parking lots, or other areas where they may not be easily seen.

By making public spaces accessible to those with disabilities, it also makes it much easier for everyone else without disabilities.

Aside from curb ramps and detectable warning surface tiles, there are some other accessible improvements that benefit everyone. The first one is the use of way-finding surface products. Way-finding tiles have long “line-like” truncated domes that help provide guidance to different locations and areas.

Even though way-finding tiles are not always required by local, state, or federal regulations, they do make it easier for people to find their ways from one area to another. The tiles essentially serve as walkways. People with visual impairments rely on them, when walking in public areas and spaces, to help them reach their destinations.

Walkway with a detectable warning surface next to the hand railing

A long walkway which has been fitted with a detectable warning surface next to the hand railing


For instance, many parks with walking and biking trails are now installing way-finding tiles so people with visual impairments can also enjoy spending more time outdoors walking. The way-finding tiles allow them to remain on a safe path while avoiding other walkers or bicyclists.

Another accessibility improvement people benefit from are photoluminescent way-finding tiles. These tiles light up and illuminate at night, during power outages, and at other times when there is a lowered light level. The lights on the tiles help direct people to exits or down paths so they do not go off walkways or fall of ledges like at rail and subway station platforms.

How ADA Solutions Helps Make Public Spaces Safer for Everyone

ADA Solutions offers several different types of warning surface products which can be used in a variety of locations. The use of these products helps increase safety not just for those with disabilities but everyone in general.

  • Cast-in-Place Replaceable: First introduced in 2006, our Cast-in-Place Replaceable warning surface panels are designed with an extra heavy-duty anchoring system. This system makes it possible to insert the tiles easily into fresh concrete. Should the top of the panels ever wear out or get damaged and need to be replaced, you do not have to remove the entire tile. Rather, the top part of the panel can be replaced by removing the heavy-duty metal bolts, installing the new panel, and tightening the bolts.
  • Surface Applied: Our Surface Applied warning tiles are a good solution when you are retrofitting an existing concrete surface or for a new construction project when you are looking for a cost-effective solution. The panels are secured directly on top of the existing surface by using structural adhesive and securing them into the cement with anchors and stainless steel fasteners.
  • Cast-in-Place: Our Cast-in-Place warning surface tiles are made of durable materials, so they last a long time. They are ideal when constructing new curb ramps or newly poured cement. The tiles are pressed directly into freshly poured concrete and will remain in place once the concrete has fully cured.
  • Radius Systems: Our Radius Systems were designed to make it easier to work around public spaces with curves. The curved tactile system is made of the same high-quality materials as our rectangular panels. This system is popular with our accessibility-conscious engineers, contractors, government representatives, project managers, and engineers.
  • Cast Iron Tactile Plate Systems: One of our newest products, our Cast Iron Tactile Plate Systems are made of top-quality cast iron. They are well-suited for multiple applications and provide superior shopping cart, wheelchair, and walker mobility and slip-resistance.
  • Wayfinding Systems: Our Wayfinding Systems have set the industry standard for over two decades. They are designed to be used on both new and existing concrete substrates. They can be used as Directional Bard and Guide Surface Tiles to help direct the flow of pedestrians.
  • Replaceable Graphic Tile Systems: These detectable warning surface tiles serve two purposes: to help provide warnings to people that caution is required and to provide graphics and text images to those without visual impairments. The tiles can be customized with your own message, colors, fonts, and even reflective ink.
  • People standing at a station behind the detectable warning surface

    A train station which has a yellow detectable warning surface installed at the end of the platform

  • Photoluminescent Systems: Our Glow-Dome™ photoluminescent systems are well-suited for use in areas where there are lowered light levels or walkways you want to illuminate after dark or as a safety preparedness measure in case of power failure. The tiles do not require any power source and are charged by ambient or natural light. They help provide visual cues to pedestrians and can be incorporated with our other warning surface products to further increase safety.

Many of our ADA detectable warning surface products are available in a wide range of colors. The only ADA requirement is that the tiles must contrast in color with the surface material where they are being used. However, it should be noted that certain municipalities and states may have their own specific color requirements.

It is highly advisable to check your local and state requirements prior to deciding on what color of warning surface tiles you want to use. ADA Solutions can also lend our expertise and assistance, as we are aware of most local and state color requirements or can direct you to the proper resources.

For further information about how our detectable warning surface products can help improve your public spaces and make them safer for everyone, advice on selecting the right products, or further questions, please feel free to contact ADA Solutions at 800-372-0519 today!

Liability Cost of ADA Noncompliance

Americans with Disabilities Act ADA and glasses

As a business owner, there are tons of things that you have to worry about, such as managing a budget and marketing your brand. One business factor that often falls through the cracks is ADA compliance.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) exists to protect people with disabilities in both public and private places. Someone with a disability should be able to navigate in and around your business as safely as someone who isn’t disabled. As a business owner, you need to be aware of what responsibilities you have under the law to ensure that your business is accessible and compliant.

To avoid ADA noncompliance, your business may need to make architectural changes such as installing round doorknobs, widening narrow parking spaces, and lowering high counters.

Who/What Does ADA Cover?

All sorts of confusion abound when it comes to understanding the requirements set forth by the ADA. The act specifically requires that new constructions must be compliant to ensure that buildings and facilities are accessible by people with disabilities. These requirements apply even if your building existed before the ADA was enacted in 1990.

There is a common misunderstanding that buildings have been grandfathered in and, therefore, don’t have to comply with ADA. There’s also a misconception that private businesses don’t have to be ADA compliant either.

The fact is that if your business or property isn’t ADA compliant, you can be sued. Property owners are 100% responsible for preventing injury for everyone who enters the premises.

ADA requires that a variety of business types be compliant, including:

  • Retail outlets
  • Grocery stores
  • Public facilities
  • Housing units
  • Banks
  • Hospitals

By following ADA requirements, you can make your spaces safer and more accessible for those that have mobility issues.

Is Compliance Necessary?

Not all entities and businesses have to be ADA compliant. When looking at businesses, the ADA requires that businesses with 15 or more employees have to be compliant. This includes state and local government, as well as the federal sector. ADA also applies to labor organizations and employment agencies.

ADA fines for noncompliance are expensive, to say the least. An initial ADA violation can cost an entity up to $75,000, and up to $150,000 for subsequent violations. This can be a huge hit for state and local governments and other local entities that don’t have expansive budgets.

Businesses that employ disabled persons must also be ADA compliant. Employers must make reasonable accommodations to enable the disabled employee to enjoy all equal employment opportunities. Accommodations can vary, but often include things such as:

  • Sign language interpreters
  • Schedule changes for medical appointments
  • Custom desks

Even if your business isn’t currently ADA compliant, it never hurts to make small changes to better position your business to be accessible and inclusive.

Improve Accessibility with ADA Solutions

tactile paving with textured ground surface with markings

Make a change to ensure your business isn’t ADA noncompliant with the help of ADA Solutions. We specialize in detectable ADA warning surfaces that enhance public access and mobility for those with visual impairments.

Detectable warning tiles were originally developed to help the visually impaired to safely navigate streets and public venues. Now, every municipality must comply and have these warning systems in place.

To learn more about our product, call our team of detectable warning experts at (800) 372-0519. We offer free quotes and look forward to making your business more safe and accessible.

ADA Solutions Is North America’s Leader in Detectable Warning Surface Tiles

blind floor tiles on train station platform

ADA Solutions is the leading manufacturer of detectable warning surface products in the U.S. For more than 20 years we have provided long-lasting detectable warning systems—including replaceable cast-in-place dry and wet tile, ADA warning mats, and more—to contractors, engineers, architects, and distributors.

ADA’s products are essential in public spaces and private organizations alike.

A History of Success

In our relatively short but productive 20-year history, ADA Solutions has:

  • Grown to become North America’s leader in detectable warning surfaces
  • Installed more than 65 million square feet of detectable warning surfaces; this exceeds all other manufacturers combined.
  • Partnered with more than 1,500 distribution locations in North, Central, and South America.

What Are Detectable Warning Surfaces?

Also called tactile warning surfaces, detectable warning surfaces provide sensory signals for visually impaired pedestrians. They are built into or applied to walking surfaces.

Visually impaired people can feel the bumpy texture beneath their feet, which signals the transition between a safe path and a potentially hazardous one, such as a roadway or bike path or a change in elevation of the walking surface. 

These surfaces are required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a civil rights law passed in 1990 to protect people with disabilities. Tactile warning surfaces must be installed along public rights-of-way for accessibility, and the surfaces must meet specific guidelines for geometric shape, height, alignment, and spacing of the truncated domes (surface bumps).  

All ADA Solutions products meet these requirements and are compliant with ADAAG, PROWAG, International Standards Organization, World Health Organization, AODA, CSA, and California Title 24.

In addition to the tactile warning surfaces, ADA Solutions also makes photoluminescent systems and graphic tile systems.

glow dome photoluminescent systems

How the ADA Has Improved Life for People with Disabilities

Before the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, disabled people faced significant restrictions on where they could go, as well as discrimination in employment—even if they were able to reasonably perform their job duties with their disability.

The ADA has improved life in immeasurable ways for millions of people. It requires public spaces and city streets to provide accommodations like wheelchair ramps and detectable warning surfaces to help disabled people navigate and access these spaces.

guide dog helping blind woman in park

As one person told researchers from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, “I am able to work, volunteer at my son’s school, and receive help from government agencies because of the ADA. Most importantly, I am able to be a vibrant part of the community because of the ADA, which has a big impact on people with and without disabilities.”

ADA Solutions is proud of the role it continues to play in making public and private spaces more accessible to people with disabilities. Learn more about our products and contact us for a free quote. 

What Cast In Place Replaceable Tactile Panels Do

one pedestrian walks on the subway platform along detectable warning surfaces

Have you ever noticed bumpy colored panels at a public transportation stop or even when exiting a store? Most people simply walk over the textured surface without giving it much thought, but these panels aren’t installed just because. They serve a huge safety purpose for those with disabilities.

Here’s what you need to know about replaceable tactile panels and why they’re so important.

What You Need to Know About Replaceable Tactile Panels

Replaceable tactile panels, also known as dome mats and ADA pads, play a vital role in the safety of those with disabilities. These textured panels exist to act as a physical alert that there is a transition from sidewalk to a road. The replaceable panels mostly benefit the disabled, especially those with visual impairments.

However, knowing what these panels indicate can also keep you safe in the future as well! If you’re like most people, you know the hassle of walking while distracted. In the event that you’re using your phone or tending to your child, it’s nice to have a physical cue that lets you know that you’re nearing a roadway.

Are the Panels Legally Required?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted in 1990. When the law was first passed, it gave a 10-year exemption for researchers to determine the feasibility of using detectable warning systems on sidewalks, roads, and streets.

In July 2001, the ADA required that cast in place detectable warning systems be installed in new construction and renovation projects. According to the Accessibility Guidelines, detectable warning systems must be placed on pedestrian paths that lead to or cross roads.

You’ll often find these panels installed on:

  • Public parking lots
  • Subway and train platforms
  • Sidewalks
  • Footpaths

By providing a way to alert those with disabilities that a hazardous drop-off is nearby, it’s much easier to keep everyone safe and out of harm’s way. Getting around shouldn’t be dangerous, no matter if you have a visual impairment or not!

Because there are many nuances associated with this ADA mandate, it’s best to work with a company that knows the law. ADA dictates the size, spacing, and other details that must be followed when installing detectable warning systems.

ground level view of yellow truncated domes

Choose ADA Solutions for Your Replaceable System Needs

ADA Solutions has offered cast in place replaceable tactile panels since 2006. We’ve installed more than 18 million square feet of these revolutionary panels. Our product is delivered pre-assembled and offers an extra heavy-duty anchoring system that ensures easy insertion and embedment.

If you’re looking for a replaceable system that’s superior to any other product on the market, look no further than ADA Solutions. Call us at 1-800-372-0519 for a free quote from your detectable warning experts.

How ADA Solutions Ensures Safety for All

how-ada-solutions-ensures-safety-for-all-feature

Millions of Americans have some sort of visual impairment ranging from poor eyesight to complete blindness. Being visually disabled can present challenges when venturing outside of the home and accessing public walkways, transportation, rail platforms, and work environments.

Some of the more common obstacles found outside the home are unexpected objects, traffic, sudden drops, and uneven surfaces. Detectable warning surfaces help visually impaired people to address these and other types of obstacles.

There are different styles of detectable warning surfaces which can be used to help those with visual impairments. One style has raised, round truncated domes which indicate an upcoming hazard like entering a busy intersection at a street crossing.

Another style has elevated bar-like sections to help direct people in a safe direction while walking. This style is commonly referred to as way-finding detectable warning surfaces. They are often used in conjunction with truncated dome warning surfaces.

The use of detectable warning surfaces benefits everyone, not just those people with visual impairments. They help improve mobility, increase safety, make it easier to access work environments, and more.

To learn more about how ADA Solutions ensures safety for all with detectable warning surfaces and the benefits they provide, we invite you to continue reviewing the following infographic.

Afterward, if you have further questions or would like to find out how detectable warning surfaces could benefit your business, municipality, or other public spaces, please feel free to contact ADA Solutions directly to speak with a representative today!  

How ADA Solutions Ensures Safety for All

Click below to embed this infographic into your website: