MCDOT looks to improve transit experience for blind, low-vision riders

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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation hopes to make local transit more accommodating and safer for riders who are blind or have low vision, with the help of a large grant.

A study will be funded by an $80,000 grant from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ Transportation Planning Board. MCDOT says over 40,000 Montgomery County residents are blind or have low vision, and many of them rely on transit options to get where they need to go.

Changes and additions to local transit like scooters, floating bus stops and major construction have added new challenges that affect blind and low vision communities.

“There are a lot of new and innovative engineering approaches that have made it more challenging to navigate when you have a vision impairment. We realized there was work to be done, we could do much more to help that population,” said Hannah Henn of MCDOT.

Henn says the department learned about the challenges facing the blind and low vision community as MCDOT began work in cooperation with the construction of the Purple Line and making changes around the Silver Spring Transit Center.

As changes were made, MCDOT hosted walk-throughs of changing bus stop locations and members of the community were able to provide feedback.

MCDOT hopes to design a pilot program for its new initiatives in Downtown Sliver Spring later this year.

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