Are curb ramps required to have detectable warnings?

Curb Ramps are “technically” required to have detectable warnings.

The Americans with Disability Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) required detectable warnings, a distinctively bumpy surface detectable by cane and underfoot, on the surface of curb ramps to provide a tactile cue for persons who are blind or have vision impairments of their approach to streets.

The Board temporarily suspended these requirements (except those applicable to boarding platforms) in 1994 due to concerns raised about the technical specifications, the availability of complying products, maintenance issues such as snow and ice removal, usefulness, and safety.

The suspension was extended twice (in 1996 and 1998) to accommodate the review and update of ADAAG.

The ADAAG Review Advisory Committee recommended that the issue of detectable warnings at curb ramps should be resolved specifically in relation to public rights-of-ways before reinstating any requirements in ADAAG, which specifically applies to facilities on sites.

The Board agreed and did not include requirements for detectable warnings at curb ramps in its proposal to update ADAAG. Consequently, the Board did not further extend the suspension, which expired on July 26, 2001.

However, since the enforcing agencies did not extend the suspension either, the detectable warning requirements are “technically” part of the standards again.

Credit: The Northwest ADA Center