After more than two decades of hard work by the US Access Board, disability advocates, and members of the public, the Public Right-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines (PROWAG) were published today as a final rule in the Federal Register. They will take effect September 7, and will become enforceable once they are adopted by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the US Department of Transportation (DOT).
Despite the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) being passed more than 30 years ago, ostensibly ensuring equal access to employment, education, transportation, and public space, PROWAG represent the first-ever accessibility standards developed expressly for the pedestrian environment, including crosswalks, signals, and push buttons.
PROWAG essentially provides federal, state, and local governments with a new benchmark—and actionable guidance—for making pedestrian facilities within their jurisdictions more accessible.
In the coming days and weeks, we’ll be creating and updating content on our website, distributor portal, and social media to reflect the new standards. In the meantime, here are some points that stood out to us from our first reading of the rule.
- All new and altered pedestrian signal heads installed at crosswalks must include accessible pedestrian signals (APS) with audible and vibrotactile features indicating the walk interval.
- Anywhere a pedestrian push button or passive detection is provided for pedestrian activated warning devices (e.g. RRFBs, circular flashing beacons), a device providing a speech message must also be present (these are commonly called audible information devices, or AID).
- Crosswalks at multilane roundabouts and channelized turn lanes must use a traffic control signal with a pedestrian signal head, a pedestrian hybrid beacon (PHB), pedestrian actuated RRFBs, and/or a raised crossing.
- The final rule does not include specific actions that trigger the requirement to install APS; however, it notes that the USDOT and DOJ may provide further specifics in their rulemakings adopting these guidelines.
Decades in the making, PROWAG is a milestone achievement for disability advocates and all who care about making streets more accessible and inclusive. We look forward to working with agencies, organizations, and individuals to realize this goal.
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