Montgomery County Study on Pedestrian Navigation for the Visually Impaired in Urban Centers

In Fiscal Year 2021, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) received a Transportation-Land Use Connections (TLC) grant from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments to study how to make it easier and safer for persons with a vision disability to get around in urban areas, especially with a focus on getting to transit stops.

The grant funded the development of a toolkit and pilot design to help County engineers and planners better design roads and sidewalks to help those with a vision disability get around.

The grant included a pilot design for the intersection of Fenton Street and Ellsworth Drive in downtown Silver Spring.

visually impaired street pedestrian navigation

Next Steps

The completion of the Toolkit and Pilot Design are only the first step in improving our transportation network for people with vision disabilities. Montgomery County is now working on the next steps to begin implementing the recommendations from the Toolkit.

The County continues to work to advance the Pilot Design into final design. Construction of the Fenton/Ellsworth intersection is expected in 2025 as part of a larger effort to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety in the corridor. In the meantime, MCDOT expects to construct mock-ups of potential improvements to allow people with vision disabilities to try out different elements and give the County feedback in 2022.

As the Fenton Street project moves through the design phase, MCDOT will be using tactile graphics in a pilot effort to learn more effective methods of communicating design information to people with vision disabilities and providing better ways for them to provide feedback on design elements.

Additionally in 2022, the County will be implementing a new training program to educate staff on design strategies for improving our transportation network for people with vision disabilities. This effort will also train staff on engagement strategies to communicate more effectively with people with vision disabilities.


visually impaired pedestrian navigation photo

Get Involved

If you are interested in learning more about the ongoing work to improve the transportation network for people with vision disabilities or to be signed up to get email updates about these efforts, please email the project manager, Matt Johnson at [email protected].

Past Meetings

MCDOT hosted a virtual community meeting on Monday, January 11, 2021 to get input from the public. You can view a recording of the meeting at the following link:

The presentation slides for the January 11, 2021 meeting are available here.

MCDOT provided an update to the Montgomery County Commission on People with Disabilities on June 9, 2021. You can view the slides from the June 9, 2021 meeting here.
visually impaired pedestrian navigation photo