Deaf or Blind Child Sign Design Guidelines

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City Guidelines Regarding the Installation of “Deaf Child Area” and “Blind Child Area” Signs
Traffic Services Division of the Department of Public Works

Governing Document Reference:

Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways (MUTCD), 2009 or latest edition and the Overland Park Municipal Code (OPMC), Title 12 – Traffic, Chapter 12.04.
Article Reference: Sauerburger, Dona & Bourquin, Eugene & Sauerburger, Jomania. (2012). The Effectiveness of Deaf-Blind Pedestrians Warning Signage on Drivers’ Behaviour. International Journal of Orientation & Mobility. 5. 11-15. 10.21307/ijom-2012-003.

MUTCD Requirements:

References to “Deaf Child Area” and/or “Blind Child Area” signs have been removed from the (MUTCD).

City of Overland Park Guidelines for Installation:

The City of Overland Park does not recommend the installation of “Deaf Child Area” signs on streets to warn motorists of deaf children for the following reasons:

  1. Motorists adjust their driving appropriately when they see children or pedestrians in or near the street, regardless of whether or not the motorists think the persons can see or hear. Drivers don’t rely on their horns for assurance that they can proceed with no delay or interference. Instead they will drive more cautiously and be prepared to stop if need be.
  2. It is actually the hearing or visual challenged person who needs to be warned of approaching vehicles. This is accomplished through safety education at home and school.
  3. Special warning signs can create a false sense of security for the child or the child’s parents by employing a legend, which may give the impression of complete protection.
  4. The creation of a false sense of security by the City raises a question of tort liability.
  5. Special traffic signing would draw attention to a hearing or visual challenged person, and that may be contrary to some professional recommendations about how to best provide for them.
  6. There are limitations regarding the total number of signs that would be required along a safe route to specific destinations such as adjacent parks, etc. Excessive signing tends to create a lack of respect by the traveling motorist and therefore lose effectiveness.

Additional Research Studies

The above referenced article published in International Journal of Orientation & Mobility indicated that "the presence of the DEAF / BLIND PEDESTRIANS plaque appeared to make no difference to drivers. Drivers did not yield more often to a pedestrian with a cane when the warning message was present at the crosswalk than they did when there was no such warning message".