Montgomery County Releases Street Design Guide To Facilitate Accessibility for People With Vision Disabilities

A design guide aimed at increasing street accessibility for people who are blind or have low vision was released by Montgomery County last week. The guide gathered input from the visually disabled community, service providers, and organizations supporting people with vision disabilities, according to Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich.

The guide aims to help planners and designers understand the different types of vision disabilities including how people with vision disabilities can safely navigate streets, train platforms, and other transportation-oriented designs.

According to a news release from Montgomery County, the project team who worked on the guide observed how people with vision disabilities navigated Downtown Silver Spring. The team also engaged with the visually disabled community through virtual community meetings, online surveys, in-person site visits, and access to tactile graphics during the planning phase.

“MCDOT aims to make our urban environment and transit centers accessible and safe for everyone,” said Montgomery County Department of Transportation Director Chris Conklin in a statement. “The guide was developed through a process of extensive community involvement, feedback, and corresponding technical adjustments. Implementation of these recommendations will undoubtedly improve the lives of our residents and will set an example to support improvements on a national level.”

Image Courtesy of Montgomery County

Tactile Walking Surface Indicators serve as one example of a design specifically made for people with vision disabilities. Travelers may already be familiar with another type of indicator, known as the Detectable Warning Surface, which are walkway inserts with raised buttons after crosswalks and on train platforms. The guide also details the other two types of indicators, how they are used around the world, and recommends how Montgomery County can use them to improve accessibility.

According to MCDOT, the next steps include implementing more tactile graphics in planning for new projects, such as the construction of the Fenton/Ellsworth intersection. The county also has pledged to implement “new training programs to educate staff on design strategies for improving our transportation network for people with vision disabilities” in 2022.

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Margaret Attridge

About Margaret Attridge

Margaret Attridge is a Fall 2021 Intern with MyMCM from the University of Maryland, College Park. Contact her at


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