Accessibility


Streets


Mobility Impairments

CURB RAMPS


When a wheelchair user moves around the city curb stones become the main obstacle. They do not allow one to get from the road on to the sidewalk and easily cross the streets without assistance. In order to overcome these obstacles curb ramps should be constructed. The curb ramp is a “mini-ramp”.

The angle of curb ramps from sidewalks should be no more than 1:10, just like for a regular ramp. The width - no less than 90 cm. Depending on the dimensions of a wheelchair the minimal width of a curb ramp should be no less than 900 mm. The color of the curb ramp should be bright yellow (or white).
Unfortunately, most of the curbs in Armenia (especially outside Yerevan) are either not equipped with curb ramps or the ramps do not comply with accessibility norms. Hence, wheelchair users often need assistance overcoming the curbs.

In order to safely help a wheelchair user up or down a curb or stairs, do the following:
1) Firmly grasp the back handles of the wheelchair and put your foot on one of the metal bars at the bottom of the wheelchair.
2) Press the bar and lift the wheelchair on its rear wheels, thus balancing the wheelchair.
3) Carefully push the wheelchair forward maintaining the balance and slowly lower the wheelchair on the ground. Lower the front wheels and bring the wheelchair into horizontal position.




PARKING


In each parking lot for vehicles, including those beside stores, service areas, medical, sports and cultural institutions, it is necessary to allocate at least 10 percent of space (but no less than one spot) for parking of special vehicles of disabled people, which should not be occupied by other vehicles. The parking spots for personal vehicles of disabled people should be marked by a breaking line and with special signs to avoid the other types of vehicles from its usage. The width of the handicap parking spot should be at least 3.5 m in order to provide the wheelchair with sufficient space when placing it by the vehicle. It is also important that the disabled person be provided with continuous access to the objects located near the parking lot. Quite frequently you can see a high curb stone near the handicap parking spot, which prevents them from independently getting to the store, for example.

Visual impairments

Taking into account the fact that people perceive most of the information visually, it is obvious that the main problem for blind and visually impaired people is incomplete perception of the surrounding world. In particular, this is the case with independent movement in urban conditions. This concerns the use of objects of urban infrastructure, public transportation and so on. In many cases visually impaired people are exposed to serious danger in the streets of our cities because of the inaccessible environment.

However, nearly all such problems can be solved by creating certain conditions, which could compensate for the absence of vision.
First of all, it is necessary that sidewalks, roads, underground pathways and buildings be provided with special rims showing direction; this will essentially facilitate the orientation for blind people and will not let them lose their way. It is also necessary that these directing rims, as well as the edges of sidewalks and roads should be painted in a contrast color (white or yellow), for visually impaired people.
For the people with complete or partial loss of sight, there should be a warning sign by means of a different road and sidewalk texture at least 80 cm before an obstacle (a staircase, a fence, etc.). For the convenience of visually impaired people the edges of the entire first and last steps of staircases should have (for the whole width of a step) a contrast narrow convex stripe of bright yellow or white. This will help warn the blind people about the start and the end of a flight of stairs. Also it is recommended to fulfill a contrast colour of steps of all stairs (light for the top of steps and dark for risers). The given requirement can be implemented by means of facing stones of corresponding colour shades. Taking into consideration the needs of visually impaired people, it is desirable to make identical the amount of steps in a flight of stairs. The staircases for the disabled people should have banisters, be smooth, without humps and have a grainy surface. The curving of a step edge should have the radius of no more than 5 cm. For facing steps of stairs (especially outside ones) it is advisable to use sawn granite. It is not allowed to use polished materials and marble (neither polished nor unpolished), as they do not provide due clutch of the shoe sole with the surface of the stone work when it is humid or frozen. Unpolished marble gets very slippery at low temperatures and in the rain.

THE WIDTH OF THE STEPS SHOULD BE: for external stairs - at least 40 cm, for internal stairs in buildings - at least 30 cm;
THE HEIGHT OF UPRISES OF STEPS: for external stairs - no more than 12 cm, for internal - no more than 15 cm. All the steps within a flight of stairs, as well as external stairs should be symmetrical: the width of a step identical to the height of the riser. It is just as important to mark the doors of public institutions by a contrast color. Imagine a glass door in the whole range of show-windows. You sure have repeatedly come across with similar buildings, where even for a person with full vision it is not easy to choose which one of them opens. Similar contrast marking pointers will help to orient and avoid possible difficulties and traumas. Contrast marking by color of a two-leaved door, for example, will help a person with impaired vision to avoid hitting the edge of the adjacent leave. It should be noted that it is extremely convenient for all people and not only does it preserve, but even improves the interior design of the building.
A very important aspect for safe movement of visually impaired people is crossing the streets. In order to secure this process, the creation of a number of special conditions is necessary. In those places, where there are traffic lights, it is necessary, that all of them are equipped with a special beeper indicating that the road is free to be safely crossed. Any kind of text, such as the street and shop names, institutions, as well as any other text information placed in streets, should be dubbed with the Braille alphabet. It should be noted that this information should have a strictly defined place, so that visually impaired people be always aware of its location; it must also be accessible to a blind person’s reach as far as the height of its allocation.

For example, the building numbers should be placed at the entrances and on the corners of buildings.

Another important issue to consider is accessibility inside the building: apartment numbers, inscription on the doors, buttons in elevators should be dubbed on Braille (see the lower part of the photo).

Hearing impairments

Just as for visually impaired people, the main problem for hard-of-hearing and deaf people is the exchange of information, i.e. necessary conditions providing convenience, safety and ability to be self-oriented. Among visual aids and means of information used for auxiliary movement control and behavior of people with hearing impairments are: indicators and signs, including luminescent ones; breaking lines and the color of equipment elements; boards, stands, panel boards; guiding lights. For example, the fire alarm system with beepers duplicated by the light denotation helps people with hearing impairments to orient in emergency situations. These systems can also be used in a number of other public institutions, for example, at the theatre, announcing the start of the performance simultaneously with the bells, or in schools, signaling the start and end of lessons. These simple adjustments help deaf and hard of hearing people to avoid unnecessary discomfort and to be independent in various life situations. People with hearing impairments encounter numerous problems in their life. However, all of them can be overcome through auxiliary means, such as telephones with light duplication of beeper. Systems like that are also used for the entrance door. Special telephones for deaf and hard of hearing people are equipped with a streaming text line transmitting the information, which makes it possible to type on the keyboard. These devices can work both on their own and can be connected to regular phones.