President signs transportation bill

08/18/05

RIAS MAP project approved

San Francisco: In approving the Transportation Equity Act -A Legacy for Users, (TEA- LU), late Friday evening, the U. S. Senate and House of Representatives has funded a major project evaluating remote infrared audible signage (RIAS). This project is another important step in the efforts to make the built environment accessible to people with disabilities originally launched by the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.

The technology operates by the installation of infrared light transmitters that broadcast repeating, human voice messages, providing directional, wayfinding information that can be heard by visually, cognitively, or learning disabled users through small, hand-held receivers. RIAS systems have proven effective for navigation in transit stations/bus shelters (providing the user the destination and time of arrival of the next bus), and at street crossings. They enable a user to tell what bus is coming when it is up to one hundred feet away and to locate its entrance. In addition to transit applications, the system has been installed in libraries, city halls, convention centers, museums, and parks; primarily in the U.S. and Japan.

The project, entitled the Remote Infrared Audible Signage Model Accessibility Project (RIAS MAP) authorized in the new act, will provide funding for a regional, multi-modal/intra-modal evaluation of the technology. The impact of RIAS on education, work, personal economics and quality of life will be studied. Its use for emergency egress will also be evaluated. The Transportation Equity Act -A Legacy for Users (TEA-LU), authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to spend a minimum of $500,000 annually on the RIAS program from 2006-2009. Congressman Richard Baker, 6 District, Louisiana along with Representatives Eleanor Holmes-Norton of Washington, D.C. and Stephen LaTourette, District 14, Cleveland, Ohio, championed the inclusion of the RIAS MAP.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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