by Peter Yuan Qu
This research was done as part of ENVS 6128, Urban Transportation Planning in the Winter 2023 semester. Dr. Mahtot Gebresselassie was the course director. The aim of the study was to examine disability accessibility on York University's Keele campus. This summary highlights some of our findings.
Our group focused on buildings as well as recreational and green spaces. We audited the west side of campus, with the boundaries of our site being Howard Moscoe Way, Ian MacDonald Boulevard, and The Pond Road (Figure 1). Our objective was to determine the level of compliance of exterior paths of travel with the City of Toronto Accessibility Guidelines. We examined each pathway and location of interest.
One particular area of success regarding accessibility was the presence of handrails, as per section 1.17 of the Accessibility Guidelines, which states:
“Handrails should be designed to provide safety and support for the public moving along an exterior path of travel. They should create a sense of navigation and wayfinding for persons with low or no vision.”
These handrails are meant to meet crucial functions (see below).
It is important to note that this success was not universal in nature, as there were failings around one particular ramp, which only had a single handrail along one side rather than the two required by the first key consideration (Figures 2 & 3). To secure compliance here, it is important to ensure that a second, new set of handrails is set up, with easily accessible intermediate handrails added to the existing handrail (Figure 2).
A pressing concern our group identified was the inconsistent placing of Tactile Attention Indicators (TAI) as per Section 1.6.2 of the Accessibility Guidelines. The TAIs we did find were spread out haphazardly across the sidewalks in our area. TAIs are crucial to helping individuals with low vision navigate changes in elevation such as stairs or openings to street level, giving them advance warning of changes in elevation. Given the presence of many roads and four surface level parking lots within our area of concentration, the lack of TAIs along parking lot crossings and inconsistent application elsewhere make crossing for the visually impaired potentially very dangerous, especially in a place where many cars are traveling in or out.
To remedy this, we recommend upgrading all existing exterior pathways to meet the standards of the accessibility design guidelines. Additionally, we believe adding additional speed bumps on both sides of the sidewalk will serve the purpose of keeping pedestrians with visual impairment within a safe crossing area, while also reducing the speed of any motor vehicle within the parking lot.
Group C Members
Shi (Peter) Yuan Qu is a 1st year student in the Master of Environmental Studies, Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change at York University.
Alexander Coney is a 2nd year student in the Master of Environmental Studies, Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change at York University.
Robert Curto is a 2nd year student in the Master of Environmental Studies, Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change at York University.
Joseiry Marrero Rivas is a 1st year student in the Master of Applied Science, Lassonde School of Engineering at York University.
Kamand Khosravian is a 1st year student in the Master of Applied Science, Lassonde School of Engineering at York University.