Board seal

  Board Releases Rights-of-Way Guidelines for Public Comment

July 26, 2011; Updated December 5, 2011


Nancy Starnes


"The Board welcomes feedback from the public in making the guidelines final."
Nancy Starnes
Access Board Chair


Access Board Webinar
and Public Hearings

August 9, 12:00 – 1:30 (E)
To register visit:

September 12, 9:30 – 11:30
Sheraton Dallas
San Antonio Ballroom A
400 North Olive Street
Dallas, TX

November 9, 9:30 to 11:30
Access Board Meeting Room
1331 F Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC







On July 26th the U.S. Access Board released for public comment proposed guidelines for accessible public rights-of-way. The guidelines provide design criteria for public streets and sidewalks, including pedestrian access routes, street crossings, curb ramps and blended transitions, on-street parking, street furniture, and other elements. The specifications comprehensively address access that accommodates all types of disabilities, including mobility and vision impairments, while taking into account conditions and constraints that may impact compliance, such as space limitations and terrain, as indicated in an overview of the rule.

"The Board's proposed guidelines are the first of their kind in detailing how public streets and sidewalks can be designed and built to serve all pedestrians, including those with disabilities," notes Nancy Starnes, Chair of the Access Board. "A tremendous amount of work, research, outreach, and input from stakeholders and other interested groups have gone into the making of this proposal, and the Board welcomes and looks forward to additional feedback from the public in making the guidelines final."

The guidelines, once finalized and implemented as standards, will apply to newly constructed or altered portions of public rights-of-way covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). They will also apply to public rights-of-way built or altered with funding from the Federal government under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) and the Rehabilitation Act. Existing pedestrian networks not undergoing alteration will not be required to meet these requirements. The rights-of-way guidelines complement, and in some areas reference, the Board's ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines for buildings and facilities.

The new proposal incorporates public comment the Board received on earlier drafts of the guidelines. While developing these guidelines, the Board has conducted an active outreach and training program to provide needed guidance on the subject in the interim. Under this program, the Board has provided training across the country to various audiences and has met with state and local transportation and public works departments on a regular basis to share information and best practices. In addition, the Board has developed resources, including design guides and checklists, and has sponsored research on detectable warnings, accessible pedestrian signals, and traffic roundabouts.

According to Scott Windley, a Board accessibility specialist involved in this rulemaking, "the training and consultation the Board has provided over the years yielded a two-way flow of information that has been very helpful and instructive in crafting guidelines that are equally responsive to both access needs and to design realities."

The Board held a briefing on the proposed rule on the day it was published and will conduct a public webinar to review the guidelines on August 9. The proposed guidelines can be accessed, and comments to them submitted or viewed, through the Federal government's rulemaking portal at Instructions for submitting comments are included in the proposal. The deadline for comments is February 2, 2012 (extended from November 23, 2011). The Board will hold public hearings on the guidelines in Dallas on September 12 and in Washington, D.C. on November 9.

Further information on this rulemaking is available on the rights-of-way homepage or by contacting Scott Windley at, (202) 272-0025 (v), or (202) 272-0028 (TTY).