Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The pros and cons of truncated domes, should one disability trump another?

A yellow plastic square of raised truncated domes.


By Shannon Coe, Reuse and Finance Coordinator 


As you are crossing the street, many of you may notice the yellow dots on the curb ramps. You may even notice them covering the entire crosswalk from the front of the shopping mall to the parking lot. The yellow dots, also known as truncated domes, are an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirement. After the ADA was enacted in 1990, cities had to put in curb ramps between the street and sidewalk. But the curb ramps were a problem for people with visual impairments because they lost the visual cue to distinguish the boundary between the sidewalk and street. In order to resolve this issue, the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG), required detectable warnings on curb cuts since July 2001. It has been required on edges of transit platforms since 1991. And only the truncated domes can be used as detectable warnings. Other tactile warnings and designs that have similar pavement textures as curb ramps are not permitted.


The intent of the truncated domes is to warn people with visual impairments of potential hazard when entering the street. People with visual impairments can feel the dots underneath their feet or cane to detect the crosswalk.


Although I understand the purpose of truncated domes, I find them to be unsafe for people with mobility impairments. Many of my friends who use manual wheelchairs, including myself, secretly complain how truncated domes create barriers for us. Why do we complain secretly? Because if we complained openly, people may think we are insensitive and do not care for the rights of people with visual impairments. But this is not true; we want to maintain unity in the disability community. Nevertheless, every time I approach the yellow dots on the curb ramp in my manual wheelchair, I tremble with fear that I might trip on one of the yellow dots and fall on my face. I know of friends in manual wheelchairs who have tripped on the dots and ended up in hospitals with broken bones. Whenever I cross the street, I need the momentum to push myself up and down the curb ramp but the dots are too bumpy. My front wheels are small so they cannot ride over the bumps easily. Furthermore, the bumps trigger muscle spasms for some people with spinal cord injury.

Shannon carefully navigating a curb cut with truncated domes
Therefore, should one disability trump another disability? Even though we should accommodate the needs of all people with disabilities, we should also “share the road.” Instead of putting truncated domes all around curb ramps or storefronts, I suggest leaving sections without truncated domes so people in wheelchairs can easily access those areas. This small change can make a huge difference in the safety of people with mobility impairments.

Share your thoughts about truncated domes. Do you think we need them? Are there other options for universal access?

29 comments:

  1. What a great idea to have flat strips in the middle of the truncated domes for people in wheelchairs or even moms with strollers or those needing to push through with other carts.

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  2. I do agree with Shannon truncated domes can be a hazard to people with Spinal Cord Injuries in manual wheelchairs. If someone in a manual wheelchair has speed the truncated domes can stop them in their tracks and throw the person out of their manual chair. I have seen able bodied women in high heels fall and hurt themselves walking in the rain on the truncated domes. Also, waking up the babies in the baby stroller to damaging your eggs you just bought at Costco. I realize the truncated domes were designed for the good of one disability but a hazard to another. Something, better needs to be designed that would serve both visual impaired and wheelchair users for all disabilities to be safe.

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  3. When I am pushing a cart of groceries over the truncated domes it is difficult to get over them. I can't imagine how hard it must be for someone in a wheelchair. There has to be a better design for everyone with a disability. Hopefully not one more person will fall from their chair and break both legs before a better design is found.

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  4. I completely agree with Shannon. I even linked to it in my own blog, where I mention things I like and things I dislike as a disabled person: http://viewfromthehandicappedspace.blogspot.com/2012/08/yippee-some-places-that-make-my.html?showComment=1344260819334#c9080952216125556932

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  5. Oops. Actually my link should end at html.
    Like this: http://viewfromthehandicappedspace.blogspot.com/2012/08/yippee-some-places-that-make-my.html

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  6. I am a spinal cord disabled person in a wheelchair. I sometimes use a scooter, too. This is scary over the domes, as it slips and tips, especially when wet. I am fearful of a fall. I resent the use of these domes in areas other than the curbs, too. As if we didn't have enough trouble with them outside, my hospital has put them inside their parking garage, too! So, whenever I go to rehab I must cross 4 sets of these each day!

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  7. These new ramps are frightening. I wish there were a better way. I have cerebral palsy, and I must use those ramps to get up the curb. These ramps make walking dangerous, and when it rains they also get very slippery.

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  8. My 2 1/2 was walking out of walgreens yesterday. They have truncated domes that are brick. Well, he tripped and busted his face, head and toe pretty bad. I picked him up as he was oozing blood and went into the store. No one helped until a customer came to our rescue. How safe are these truncated domes. I understand the argument for visually impaired but what about the rest of the world? Children included? Any help or advice is appreciated. Thank you!

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  9. My mom in her 80s tripped on these truncated cones at a market and hit her head. These are truly dangerous and there should be a class-action lawsuit to replace them with a safer design.

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  10. These are sensors that can read the chip in your ID s, and computers and gps from smart phones andcan monitor your travel, beware of why anyone wants to have that much capable information to everyone, even bus systems make you buy a pass showing ss numbers with birthcertificate, believe me they know every stop time and date of every trip..

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  11. these truncated domes are horrible for elder people in a walker!!! it's hard to believe that's the best they can do to improve accessibility. It seems to me there are more mobility impaired people than visually impaired. this is truly ridiculous!!! PC that's not PC

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  12. I have had to use a knee walker for many weeks over the past few years and I have an awful time on these bumps. Most of them that I see are red not yellow but all the same, they create a problem for me in the knee walker.

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  13. I agree. having some smooth areas in between the bumps so wheel chairs could pass without rolling over the bumps. Question is, how do we get the law changed to allow this modification to take place?

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  16. They are a hazard for frail, elderly who are using walkers or canes, or have trouble with balance. My parents, in their 90s, hate them - they cannot walk on them. I know people in wheelchairs who hate them. Normal healthy people trip on them, or slip on them when they are wet. They install them everywhere at stores, hospitals, and now they are installing them in the neighborhood. Insidious waste of money. ADA is a money suck.

    First, we spend millions, if not billions on ramps, and now we install barriers on the ramps. ADA was a big mistake - it’s been a windfall for attorneys, and not much else.

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  18. Truncated Domes are a huge hazard. I tripped on a dome that had risen from within the concrete, landing on my knee and shattering my knee cap. I'm deathly afraid to ever walk near one again. They need redesign to accommodate serious safety issues, plus they need to be inspected constantly for maintenance issues. My opinion is they are a hazard for all people, disabled or not.

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    Replies
    1. I fell on truncated domes outside a Costco and fractured my knee requiring surgery. I am surprised that there hasn't been a class action lawsuit I can't even find a personal injury attorney to take my case. How can something this dangerous to the general public be allowed?

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  19. Hey, very nice site. I came across this on Google, and I am stoked that I did. I will definitely be coming back here more often. Wish I could add to the conversation and bring a bit more to the table, but am just taking in as much info as I can at the moment. Thanks for sharing.
    Portable Wheelchairs

    Keep Posting:)

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  20. I had my first fall this week related to these hazards. I use a cane and have balance issues and knew it was a matter of IF they were going to cause me to fall it was a matter of when. I got my answer. Luckily I wasn't injured badly this time. I can't avoid them because curbs are just as perilous for me as they are

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    Replies
    1. Sue the ADA. You'd have many people joining you. My husband has Parkinson's Disease and uses a rigid walker. He loses his balance easily and almost fell a couple of times on these domes. I'm able-bodied and I almost tripped on them the other day while wearing 1" heels. Ugh. Hate them.

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  21. This is an old thread but it still absolutely infuriates me. It is another example of big government doing something for money and not for the people. You need to partner up with blind people - they HATE these things, too! They literally help no one other than the politicians who get paid off and the companies that produce them.

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  22. Thread is four years old, but the only thing that's changed is now having even more of these infuriating truncated dome mats. I am currently temporarily disabled. I get around on crutches and a knee scooter. And the most dangerous part of my daily journeys are these damn truncated dome mats that are now EVERYWHERE. Especially now with the wet weather. Of course these domes are in huge swaths around disabled parking spaces making the exit from the car that much more enjoyable.

    But wait there's more. Well before I was in my current state, these things were a danger to me, and millions of others. Why? Because they're also installed on ramps that are intended for cyclists. And in the wet, of course these become slippery to bicycle tires in the same way they're slippery to mobility device wheels and crutch and cane tips. Our local university has them on most ramps that access bike paths. When I questioned the traction, I was told that they have "superior" traction to the surrounding pavement. And while that may very well be true on the tiny surface area of the top of every dome, it is not true of the blank spaces between them that a bike tire will bridge. This means that the tire's contact patch is severely diminished, so it doesn't really matter how much traction is on the tip of one dot. Cyclists fall on these things the same way that disabled folks do.

    There HAS to be a better way of helping the visually-impaired. This shotgun approach that negatively impacts every other sidewalk and path user is a disaster. Has anybody found a study that concludes that the domes are even effective for their intended benefit? I can't turn one up. I can only say that I'm not visually impaired, but I fear for anybody who is, and who may ALSO have another disability. The same way I fear for the rest of the population that is now subjected to these at every corner.

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  23. I am a sixty two year old woman taking my daily walk with the dog. I am always leery of those yellow things but, this time I wasn't thinking. I tripped (or stubbed) on one of those Truncated Domes and landed face first on the sidewalk. Hit the curb with my glasses and fractured my forearm. Luckily I still hand the dog in hand and several people who had driven by stopped to help.

    I will definitely steer clear from Truncated Domes. And of course it had to happen the day after Christmas.

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  24. I had surgery on Nov. 29th to repair a ruptured plantar fascia and remove a one inch calcified bone spur that cut into my Achilles' tendon, which also had to be repaired. I have been in a wheelchair or using a knee walker since. I have been having issues with healing and today just made it worse. Before I had my surgery, I had a three month freeze put on my gym account to keep the monthly payment from coming out because it is pointless to pay for a membership I cannot use, well since I am still not healed from my surgery, I had to take them another Dr excuse today. Unfortunately, they would not let my husband bring it in because apparently I had to sign for it to be done. As I was going in the gym, on my knee walker, the truncated domes which are on an incline caught my front wheels, jerking me to a stop, causing my leg to slip off the knee walker and my heel to go crashing down onto the concrete. Regardless that I have a medical boot on, I still felt my almost healed incision to pop open. I now have a hole in my heel that I know cannot be restitched and will have to heal from the inside out, leading to an even longer recovery time and more pain. If those things were not on that incline to begin with, it would not have happened, or like this mentions another way of getting inside without someone who uses a knee walker or wheelchair to have to even attempt to go over them. I am so angry. I could feel my foot bleeding, I was in tears, and the guy at the counter had no care in the world about what happened. He was very cold about it when I told them that these domes on an incline could be hazardous.

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  25. My 78 year old sister recently fell on a sidewalk and her knee impacted a truncated dome (imagine striking your knee with a ball peen hammer!). Her knee cap was shattered in three places requiring surgery, screws, wires, two weeks in a nursing home and six weeks in an immobile leg brace. Prior to the accident she was walking three miles a day. Now I wonder how long it will be before she can even walk around her house? I have yet to see a blind person using a truncated dome for guidance, yet hundreds of thousands of senior citizens, disabled people with wheelchairs, canes or walkers have to stumble over these things on a daily basis. I'm curious if the National Safety Council, the ADA, AARP, NHTSA or any other safety agency has conducted studies comparing the ratio of blind people being helped to those ending up in nursing homes with broken bones? Government agencies need to realize truncated domes are a danger to public health and safety and take immediate action to have them removed!

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  26. Great post. A good timing for me to read it, when i have just started my blog a couple of days before. Keep sharing the tips :)
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    Keep Posting:)

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