An Accessible Approach to Shared Streets

Someone's finger running across a tactile street map
Photo Credit: 
Toole Design Group
Yesterday, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) unveiled a groundbreaking new resource on planning and designing shared streets to accommodate people with vision disabilities. The first report of its kind, Accessible Shared Streets: Notable Practices and Considerations for Accommodating Pedestrians with Vision Disabilities introduces accessible design principles for shared streets based on detailed research and extensive outreach, equipping communities to pursue new designs that are accessible for people with vision disabilities. Drawing from notable practices, public outreach, and field analysis from multiple US cities, this resource pushes the practice of shared street design towards accessibility for all users. Toole Design Group (TDG) was proud to be part of the team that helped FHWA bring this innovative resource to the public.
To better understand the challenge that shared streets can present to people with vision disabilities, the project team developed an extensive public engagement process that included focus groups, peer exchanges, interviews, and multi-day workshops in cities around the US. Along with FHWA, members of the US Access Board, and key contributors like Accessible Design for the Blind, TDG staff prepared a variety of new ways to share concept designs with members of the vision disability community, such as tactile maps to show workshop participants with a range of vision disabilities what these street design concepts looked like through touch and feel. Workshops also included extensive walking tours of innovative street design concepts, allowing the team to get first-hand information from contributors with vision disabilities about their experience.