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A 'roundabout' discussion on ethics of street design

March 11, 2009

KALAMAZOO--The ethical dilemma of designing roadways to accommodate pedestrians with disabilities will be the topic of a Thursday, March 12, presentation at Western Michigan University.

Dr. Richard Long, associate dean of the WMU College of Health and Human Services, will speak at 4 p.m. in Room 204 of the Bernhard Center. His talk, which is free and open to the public and offered by the WMU Center for the Study of Ethics in Society, is titled "A Roundabout Conversation: Ethics in Intersection Design and Access by Individuals with Disabilities."

Long will focus on the engineering ethics issues related to his research regarding intersection access by individuals with blindness and low vision. Since 2000, Long has led a National Institutes of Health-funded interdisciplinary team of researchers to identify barriers and challenges encountered by individuals with blindness and low vision when crossing streets at complex signalized intersections and roundabouts.

Pedestrian access for all is required by federal law, making engineers consider access by people with disabilities in the design and construction of roadways. But sometimes design features that may limit access by individuals with disabilities can yield benefits for other users, such as drivers. Long will talk about the competing interests in pedestrian access and intersection design and the related ethical challenges engineers face when they consider installation of roundabouts or other types of intersections that may prove to be challenging for individuals with disabilities.

Long has been a WMU faculty member in the Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies for 11 years. For the past two years, he has served as the college's associate dean, focusing on research and interdisciplinary and international development.

Long has worked in the field of orientation and mobility for persons with blindness for more than 30 years, including roles as a counselor, agency administrator, teacher of blind children, orientation and mobility specialist and researcher.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

WMU News
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