In July the Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) announced it had been awarded a $13 million grant from the California Transportation Commission (CTC) for the replacement of SacRT’s outdated fare vending machines along with the installation of new digital information signs.
Many of the system’s existing fare vending machines are more than 15 years old, only accept cash and coin, and are English only. RT stated that the new machines will allow passengers to pay with credit, debit and Connect Card (the region’s new transit smart card), but have not addressed the language issues. SacTRU members have urged RT Staff to ensure that the new Fare Vending Machines (FVMs) are accessible for all users, with particular care taken in making information accessible for Limited English Proficient (LEP) riders and people with disabilities.
We want to highlight Sacramento Transportation and Air Quality Collaborative's (STAQC's) Best Practices for Universal Design which provides techniques for facility designs that accommodate the widest range of potential users, including people with mobility and visual disabilities and other special needs.
Design standards and practices based on an “average” person fail to accommodate many potential users. Although Universal Design standards address the needs of people with disabilities, it is a comprehensive concept that can benefit all users.
Principles of Universal Design
Flexibility in Use
Simple and Intuitive Use
Toelrence of Error
Low Physical Effort
Passengers with disabilities can find TVMs difficult and frustrating to use and report various barriers to access. The overriding issue for wheelchair users is the lack of accessibility of TVMs. Even DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) compliant machines can be difficult for some wheelchair users, particularly those who are elderly or lack the upper body strength or mobility to reach the touch screen. Riders with visual impairments benefit from machines that offer glare reduction, color contrasted lettering, large print and Use different modes (pictorial, verbal, tactile) for redundant presentation of essential in formation. It is important to note that Universal Design Principles support and compliment the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and provide planners ideas for how to implement the ADA. However, Universal design is not a synonym or a euphemism for accessibility standards.
It is essential that the new machines accommodate a wide range of literacy and language skills, in compliance with Title VI guidelines. Design features can do this through a variety of mechanisms, such as using different modes (pictorial, verbal, tactile) for redundant presentation of essential information. Additionally making pages multilingual, or at least provide language selection options, is essential to improving service to all riders in the Sacramento Region. It is a particularity of public kiosks that they have to serve different users with different cultural and language backgrounds. Over 37 percent of Sacramento residents speak a non-English language at home and 16 percent report that they speak English less than “very well,” which is twice the national average of people who are considered Limited English Proficient (LEP). Additionally, as RT installs additional signage under this grant on all light rail platforms, they should be multilingual to improve communication with all passengers.
Universal Design shifts more of the burden from the individual to the community; rather than assuming that people must accommodate to the built environment, it assumes that the built environment should accommodate all users as much as feasible.
Our members have requested that RT incorporate Best Practice Standards, such as those outlined in the STAQC report, to ensure the new fare vending machines are accessible for all users, with particular care taken in making information accessible for Limited English Proficient (LEP) riders and individuals with disabilities.
SOME REFERENCES AND RESOURCES ON TRANSPORTATION-RELATED UNIVERSAL DESIGN FROM THE STAQC PAPER
The Access Board (800-872-2253; www.access-board.gov) is a U.S. federal agency that develops guidelines and standards for accessible design. Publications include Accessible Rights of Way: A Design Manual, Designing Sidewalks and Trails for Access and Checklist for Accessible Sidewalks and Street Crossings.
Adoptive Environments Center (www.adaptenv.org) provides resources for universal design.
American Council of the Blind (Washington, DC; www.acb.org/pedestrian) supports programs to help people with visual impairments, including pedestrian improvements.
Beneficial Designs, Inc. et al., Designing Sidewalks and Trails for Access; Part 1, Review of Existing Guidelines and Practices, Publication No. FHWA-HEP-99-006, 1999; Designing Sidewalks and Trails for Access; Part 2, Best Practice Design Guide, Publication No. FHWA-EP-01-027, Federal Highway Administration, USDOT (www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bikeped), Sept. 2001.
Center for Universal Design at NC State University (www.design.ncsu.edu/cud) is a national research, information, and technical assistance center that evaluates, develops, and promotes universal design in housing, public and commercial facilities, and related products.
Federal Highway Administration’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Office is responsible for promoting bicycle and pedestrian transportation accessibility, use, and safety (www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bikeped)
Federal Highway Administration, Designing Sidewalks and Trails for Access; Part 2, Best Practice Design Guide, Federal Highway Administration, USDOT (www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bikeped), Publication No. FHWA-EP-01-027, Sept. 2001.
Federal Highway Administration, Guidelines and Recommendations: To Accommodate Older Drivers and Pedestrians, Federal Highway Administration, USDOT (http://www.tfhrc.gov/humanfac/01105/cover.htm), Publication No. FHWA- RD-01-051, May, 2001.
Institute on Independent Living (www.independentliving.org) serves self-help organizations of disabled people. Full-text online library including access and transport issues.
Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, Image Library (www.pedbikeimages.org), by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (www.walkinginfo.org) provides an extensive collection of photographs related to walking and cycling.
Recommended Street Design Guidelines for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired. American Council of the Blind (www.acb.org), (202) 467-5081.
Tom Rickert, Mobility for All; Accessible Transportation Around the World (1998) and Making Access Happen: Promoting and Planning Transport For All (2002) Access Exchange International (www.globalride-sf.org) and the Swedish Institute On Independent Living (www.independentliving.org), 1998.
Transit Cooperative Research Program, Report 82: Improving Public Transit Options for Older Persons, Volume 1: Handbook, Transportation Research Board (www.trb.org), 2002.
Transit Cooperative Research Program, Report 82: Improving Public Transit Options for Older Persons, Volume:2, Final Report, Transportation Research Board (www.trb.org), 2002.
Universal Design Newsletter (www.UniversalDesign.com) is a quarterly publication that provides up-to-date information on accessibility issues.
United States Department of Transportation, Accessibility Website (www.dot.gov/accessibility) by the U.S. Department of Transportation.