||October 3, 2006
||ADA Advisory Committee Meeting #2
||Hearing and Speech Agency (HASA), Auditorium
||Joe Crider/Jen Reigle
Neil Pedersen, SHA Administrator
Doug Simmons, SHA Deputy Administrator
Linda Singer, SHA Office of Policy and Research
Lisa Choplin, SHA Office of Highway Development
Norie Calvert, SHA Office of Highway Development Scot Morrell SHA Office of Counsel
Rosemarie Morales, Federal Highway Administration
Duane Geruschat, Maryland School for the Blind
Sharon Maneki, National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
Yvonne Dunkle, Office of Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH)
Phil Strong, American Council for the Blind (ACB)
Harriet Levine, Jacobs
Jennifer Reigle, Jacobs
Ed Paulis, SHA Office of Traffic and Safety (OOTS)
Tom Curtis, Maryland Department of Disabilities (DOD)
|Members Unable To Attend:
Craig Borne, Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT)
Andrea Buonincontro, Making Choices for Independent Living
Sylvester (Sly) Beiler, ARC of Baltimore
John Gaver, ODHH
Troy Parham, SHA Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO)
Karen Shipley, SHA OEO
Richard Woo, SHA Policy
Marni McNeese, Alliance of Disability Commissions
Marian Vessels, Transcen
The purpose of the meeting was to continue coordination on SHA’s ADA program. Main agenda items included the public involvement effort associated with the Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan process, progress with the Self-Evaluation, and an overview of the Accessible Pedestrian Signal (APS) program.
The meeting began with introductions. John Gover from SHA was introduced as being extremely involved with the Self-Evaluation and the technical training of SHA personnel. The layout of the facility was explained and the ground rules were established.
With no objections from the attendees, the minutes of the previous meeting were approved.
Harriet Levine provided a brief overview and update of the follow up items from the previous meeting:
- A site visit is being scheduled for Committee members and interested parties to discuss their observations in the field as it relates to the conduct and findings of the self-evaluation. The details of the site visit are discussed later in these minutes.
- SHA will send its ADA policies and brochures to all the members of the Committee. Alternative formats will be provided upon request.
- A demonstration of the Accessible Pedestrian Signal is included in the agenda for this meeting.
- The first part of the ADA website is up and running. More information will be forthcoming.
- Training for SHA design staff is ongoing and training for SHA construction staff is to commence prior to the year’s end.
The role of the committee was reiterated as to provide long-term, broad policy input on the Self-Evaluation and Transition plans, field experiences and criteria. It was stated that in order to maintain balance within the Committee, only one representative from each group will be at the table and considered Members, however others are welcome to observe. It was established that observers may comment and provide input.
The Self-Evaluation plan is currently an ongoing process in which SHA is conducting a full and comprehensive audit for ADA compliance of sidewalks (including ramps, curb cuts, detectable warnings, etc.) along Maryland SHA-maintained roads. It is expected that the field work will be completed by late October/early November.
The next step in the Self Evaluation plan is public involvement and input through public meetings. Information from the public outreach efforts will help identify obstacles to mobility and provide input into the prioritization of projects. After the public meetings are held, the Self Evaluation plan will be completed. Due to time and funding constraints, it will take years to bring all identified elements into full compliance and SHA will used the factors identified in the first Advisory Committee meeting, as well as input from the public, in prioritizing the projects for implementation.
With regard to the proposed public meetings, Harriet explained that initially SHA planned on holding a meeting in each county. However, as they met to discuss the outreach efforts and reviewed the information from the self-evaluation, SHA considered combining county meetings, especially in rural areas. Harriet asked the Committee if they felt it was necessary to have a public meeting in every county. In some cases there were a smaller number of non-compliant sites within several counties in close proximity. Harriet explained that it might be easier to combine counties when this occurs to maximize the public participation. To further clarify, the example of the Tri-County Council was given where Worcester , Wicomico and Somerset counties have established cooperative regional agreements on transit, social services, and development. Doug Simmons suggested that SHA could use the regional development councils as a forum for public comments as well. There was general consensus that meetings could be combined, as appropriate.
There was a general comment that the meetings should be accessible by transit services. Harriet informed the Committee that all meetings will be accessible by transit both in location and time.
Harriet asked about the best time of day for these meetings. Duane Geruschat said that right after work would be best. Most people agreed that right after work was best. Harriet pointed out that the time people get off work and get home varies across counties and therefore the meeting times may vary based on the area of the state that they are held. The meeting times will also be set based on previous SHA experience with holding public meetings in the various counties and on transit schedules.
Yvonne Dunkle asked about the format and if there will be call-ins allowed. Harriet stated that the current thinking was that the meeting format would be informal with displays and staff on hand to answer specific questions. Sharon Maneki asked if there would be verbal descriptions of the displays at the meetings, as well as on the website. Harriet explained that the displays are aerial photos with sites and locations marked on them. Staff will be available at the meetings to describe maps. In addition, if there is a question about a specific area a verbal description could be provided. SHA is also currently looking into other methods that would make this information accessible by everyone.
There was a very helpful discussion on the recommended format of written descriptions of the information on the maps. Sharon Maneki and Pat Sheehan explained that any form of table or spreadsheet is extremely hard to understand when using a computer reader due to the fact that it becomes difficult to keep track of column and row headings in long or large tables. The group agreed that verbal descriptions in Word format will be provided by request for specific locations.
At the last meeting, Yvonne Dunkle indicated that ODHH regularly communicates with numerous organizations. Other Committee members shared this position and it was agreed that the networks provided by Committee members would be a valuable tool to further outreach and communication.
Harriet indicated that SHA would like to take advantage of the networks in place to publicize any upcoming public meetings and other opportunities for input. Yvonne presented SHA with several lists of contact information for the organizations that she regularly communicates with to SHA. She stated that it would be preferred that SHA contact these groups in the future since SHA now has their contact information, though her office will assist when needed. Tom Curtis said that his office will be happy to disseminate information to other associated groups for SHA. Phil Strong stated that he can do the same thing and that he has contacts in several transportation oriented groups.
Harriet asked if there were advertisement formats other than newspaper ads that would be helpful in getting information out to the targeted audience for the public meetings. She stated that SHA typically advertises in newspapers prior to public meetings but wanted to obtain any other advice from the Committee on this matter. Sharon stated that radio ads would be helpful.
Rosemarie Morales asked if there was going to be a Question and Answer session at the public meetings. Harriet informed the Committee that with the informal meeting format being considered, questions can be answered by the staff on hand. Staff will take notes on comments throughout the meeting. There will also be comment cards and a court reporter will be present to take any verbal comments verbatim. Additionally, the meeting materials will be posted online so people can review it and provide comments through the mail or by email.
Sharon said that having the court reporter to take verbatim comments is a good idea.
Consideration is also being given to having a presentation that would provide an overview of the process and objectives cycling every hour or every hour and a half.
The current displays are large aerial maps showing specific locations and elements that are in compliance and those that are not in compliance. For the public meeting, SHA is planning on displaying these maps and having staff present to explain them and answer questions. SHA is currently looking into the best way to display this information on the internet site. At this time, the most feasible option is to supply a narrative and allow people to request more information on specific areas or elements.
Pat said that Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) conducted a review of bus stops and shelters for its services in both Prince George ’s and Montgomery counties, and that Jim McBride is the person to contact for information obtained during this study. Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) is conducting a similar exercise for its facilities. Harriet informed the Committee that MTA is responsible for the bus stops themselves and that SHA will ensure that these bus stops are accessible.
Harriet said that at the public meetings it is important to emphasize that bringing every part of the State system to meet ADA standards is a process that will take many years to complete. At the public meetings SHA will be up front with people about the time frame involved.
Rosemarie asked how non-English speakers will be accommodated. Harriet replied that interpreters will be made available upon request. This is true of individuals requesting sign-language interpreters as well.
The first meeting has not been scheduled at this time but once the schedule has been made, SHA will distribute this to the Committee Members so that they can send this information along to other interested groups.
Yvonne said that her office has a list of contacts for sign language interpreters and other resources throughout the State and can provide more information on getting Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART). Harriet said that SHA will be sure to obtain that information.
Lisa Choplin stated that the inventory is moving at a fast pace and is ahead of schedule. The inventory should be completed by the end of October/beginning of November. After the inventory is completed it will be necessary to put the information into a central database in order to generate the aerial displays which should be completed in January 2007. Only after that is completed there will be an ability to prioritize all of the projects that are specifically geared toward ADA compliance and improving access.
Currently SHA has funds through June 2007 to begin some of these projects. Some of this money is being used for the public outreach, Advisory Committee, self-evaluation, and to train SHA staff to incorporate accessibility into all new projects but the majority will be available for projects.
In order to take advantage of this funding before June 2007 it is likely that some projects are going to take place ahead of the public meetings and prioritization process. Therefore in order to get some projects started with the available funding SHA is looking at the list of priorities compiled at the last meeting and the number of areas in compliance, pedestrian accidents, and pedestrian generators to identify some projects for early implementation. These projects will be in Baltimore , Prince George ’s and Montgomery counties.
Doug Simmons stated that this particular funding is dedicated to ADA improvements and that in locations where other projects are ongoing or getting started, accessibility is being improved through those other projects’ funding.
Inventory Field Review
Lisa scheduled a date for those interested to go on a field survey. Lisa said that it is scheduled for Thursday, October 26, 2006 at 4pm or 5pm , depending on group concensus, at the Pikesville Branch Library. Lisa informed the Committee that an e-mail will be distributed with this information, along with driving and transit information. She asked that those interested be sure to let SHA know by the deadline specified in the e-mail in order to ensure that SHA can supply safety vests and equipment for everybody.
Accessible Pedestrian Signals
Ed Paulis presented a demonstration of an APS unit. He explained that the locator tone is used to locate the push button during non-walk phases. During these phases, 1 audible beep per second is made and can be heard from 6 to 12 feet. During the walk phase, the beep is quickened to 8-10 beeps per second. A quick push of the button calls the walk signal. When the button is pushed and held, a verbal location announcement (i.e. “wait to cross Dulaney Valley Road at entrance to Goucher College ”) is made indicating both the street to be crossed and the current phase of the signal.
There is Braille on the sign indicating what street is to be crossed and there is a raised arrow on the button that indicates location and direction of street to be crossed. This arrow will vibrate during the walk phase.
These units will be installed at all intersections with pedestrian activated signals within the next 10 years statewide. These locations will be updated as projects occur and will also be installed based on priority and request as funding allows.
In the 1990’s the first APS was installed in Towson and there were complaints about the noise. In 2003 APS with Verbal messages were installed. However, it has been found that as people walked away from the voice box they could not hear the message. Recent research has suggested that the tones are more audible, understandable and not as noisy for those residing in the area than other types of sounds. SHA has decided to use the specific model with the tone due to the current research and consistency nation wide.
During the break, the APS unit was available for Committee members.
Additional Discussion Items
This portion of the meeting was open to other discussion items raised by Committee members.
Sharon Maneki wanted to raise the issue of the quiet car. She mentions that APS is a good technology but it only tells somebody when it is legal to cross not necessarily when it is safe. There are times when pedestrians can still be hit even when the technology informs them it is safe to cross, for instance when a vehicle turns on red after stopping. With the increasing popularity of hybrids and the quieter car models it is harder for the visually impaired to tell when it is safe to cross.
The legislative bill HB 316 permits low speed vehicles to be used on state roads in certain circumstances but the concern is that the pedestrians may not realize the car is there when they try to cross the road. While the bill does not address hybrid vehicles, some of the concerns are the same.
Neil Pedersen asked if anybody knew what had been done in other states or cities about the quiet car issue. When nobody responded, Neil said that SHA needs to look into this issue and see what has been done elsewhere.
Pat Sheehan stated that bicyclists are also interested in the quiet car issue.
Neil stated that it is an interesting observation that SHA normally gets complaints that cars are too noisy. Neil thanked Sharon for raising the issue and SHA will do more research on the subject. Scott Morrell said he would look into the legislative bill and supply some feedback on that aspect.
Next Meeting / Follow-Up Items
The next quarterly meeting is scheduled for January 9, 2007 due to holidays early in the month and the Transportation Research Board (TRB) occurring towards the end of the month. Most people said that the facility was a good meeting location. Phil Strong said that it was a long drive for some but if he was in the minority it was ok. He did ask about the possibility of setting up telephone access for call-ins from those who are not able to make it to the meeting location. SHA will look into accommodating call-in access to the meeting and information will be included in the next meeting reminder.
SHA Action Items
- Send out ADA policies and guidelines.
- Contact Jim McBride at WMATA regarding bus shelters.
- Contact Yvonne Dunkle about CART and interpreter resources for public meetings.
- Email field visit information.
- Research HB 316 and matters concerning the quiet car issue.
- Try to arrange for call-ins for the next meeting.
- Email public meeting schedule as dates are available.
Next Meeting Topics
- Update on Public Meetings
- Pedestrian Maintenance of Traffic (MOT): how to maintain accessible access for pedestrians during construction that affects sidewalks.
- Pat would like an update on the early construction projects being considered for Prince George ’s, Montgomery and Baltimore counties and an overview on those projects.
- It was also requested that the displays for the public meetings be brought in for comments if there are any