In today’s fast-paced world it would be easy for the mentally and physically disabled to fall a few steps behind without the disability act and its many requirements, such as curb cuts and detectable warnings.
With the 1990 passage of the disability act came a set of no-excuse guidelines for cutting down discrimination and ramping up inclusion of disabled persons. Some of the most visible changes came in the public space and public transportation sectors with the advent of on-ramps on busses, accessibility ramps in front of buildings, and curb cuts on the sidewalk.
The integration of curb cuts requires a two-step process in order to ensure the safety of wheelchair-bound or otherwise physically impaired people as well as the visually impaired. An unforeseen (no pun intended) hazard of curb cuts was that visually impaired people had no way of detecting the level changes between sidewalks and streets and were walking into traffic areas with no warning.
The unanimous solution to these newly accessible but newly dangerous curb cuts was the installation of detectable warning systems, a tactile surface detectable both underfoot and audibly when swept over or tapped by a cane. Both curb cuts and detectable warning systems are now require by the disability act and are becoming widespread safety features for pedestrians of all kind.
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