In the United States:

        Curb cuts of no more slope than 1:12 with smooth transition at the bottom are required for all crosswalks.

        Detectable warnings (specific design of truncated domes that is readily detectable under foot and by long cane) are required near the bottom of curb ramps in new construction and alteration.


Strategies to deal with / adapt for the lack of a curb as a reliable cue at the edge of the street:

In familiar places, one can learn when to expect the next street corner, but in unfamiliar places, one should be alert for the possibility of encountering the street edge at any time, because some streets are only a few feet away from the last corner.


Cues that can indicate the presence of the edge of a street:

o       sounds of traffic on parallel street (vehicles stopping at corner) and perpendicular street

o       slopes (sloping down to street, up toward middle of street)

o       texture changes (the surface of streets often is rougher than that of sidewalks)

o       sound and feeling of open to the sides (end of landscaping / building lines, breezes and sounds from sides)

o       poles on the side away from parallel street, and street furniture typical of corners


NOTE: be aware that even when using all available cues effectively, there are many situations where there is no discernable cue to the edge of the street and one may go into the street unaware (Bentzen and Barlows study [1995] showed that a third of the time when competent blind travelers walked toward the street along a curb ramp they went unaware at least two steps into the street, some crossed the entire street without being aware they had entered the street).

Bentzen, B.L. & Barlow, J.M. (1995). Impact of curb ramps on safety of persons who are blind. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness. 89:319-328.

Return to Signals

Return to home page