Guide aims to help blind, low-vision pedestrians navigate Montgomery County streets

A first-of-its-kind guide aims to help Montgomery County, Maryland, make streets and roadways more accessible to people who are blind or have low vision.

The “Planning and Designing Streets to be Safer and More Accessible to People with Vision Disabilities,” released by the county’s transportation department, outlines ways to improve public engagement, staff training and improved walkway design, according to a county news release.

The tool kit has guidance on creating tactile graphics or using accessible pedestrian signal buttons. It highlights how tactile walking surface indicators can be used to guide blind and low-vision pedestrians, as well.

The project was overseen by Montgomery County, with funding assistance from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Government and feedback from the community. The team working on the project also observed how those who are blind or have low vision navigated downtown Silver Spring.

“The guide was developed through a process of extensive community involvement, feedback and corresponding technical adjustments. Implementation of these recommendations will undoubtedly improve the lives of our residents and will set an example to support improvements on a national level,” Montgomery County Director of Transportation Chris Conklin said in a statement.

MCDOT said that it will testing some of the designs in a training facility that will have mock-ups of the proposed designs so that blind and low-vision pedestrians can test them out.

“Throughout COVID-19, our residents have enjoyed spending more time outdoors and walking. It is imperative that safe and accessible walkways and gathering spaces are built with everyone in mind,” County Executive Marc Elrich said in a statement.

For more information about the project, visit the MCDOT website.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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