Dianne B. Phelps
|October 28, 2002|
Almost three years ago, I was the victim of a fast-moving delivery
truck which hit and killed my guide dog, having driven over her with back and
front wheels, and left me critically injured. Actually, this occurred within a
driveway system between our Queen of the Valley Hospital here in Napa,
California and a neighboring medical building. Not only did the accident leave
me critically injured with severely crushed left rib cage, collapsed lung,
fractured spleen, liver lacerations bruised kidneys, many scrapes and bruises
and the like, the multiple skull fractures I received along with frontal lobe
bleeding have left me with about a 70% hearing loss on my left side. This
hearing loss makes it very difficult to hear the movement of the traffic
accurately, and though I am now out and about again, I feel that I need more
help in determining the movement of the traffic.
In my community in Napa California, the pole containing the button which one must use to trigger the traffic is in a different location on every corner, making them very difficult to find. My guide dogs try to help, but that part of the equation is mind boggling for the guide dog and makes me furious when I have to search for these obscure things, only to fail.
I believe that sound cues from the traffic signals could be useful not only for the blind but for senior citizens who have more trouble getting around. In talking with others who dislike the idea, I have come to the conclusion that we must see to it that these devices are adjusted properly so that they don't totally blot out the sounds of moving traffic, and they need to be put in in systems so that you know as you walk down a street which of the sounds indicates which way to go or not go as the case may be.
After fighting to regain my independence in terms of getting around again and obtaining yet another guide dog to assist me, traffic is moving so insanely fast these days and is so totally noisy that I am beginning to develop fears about going out there and tackling the total craziness. I don't want to lose my ability to get around and do the things which are important to me, but I do have concerns that if we don't work something out in this regard, I won't be able to get around. Obviously, drivers can't see a woman and a yellow Labrador Retriever because they are so preoccupied with other things besides driving, and I have begun to feel that the general population just doesn't care. The white Cane Laws don't even protect us in certain situations such as "private" driveways. That is well and good for the driver, but I can't hang my blindness up because I happen to be walking across a "private" driveway. Where does society get off in turning off the laws which are supposed to protect blind pedestrians, giving them the right of way?
Yes, I do believe there needs to be something out there which makes it clear what the traffic is doing, and I do feel that properly adjusted sound cues are definitely in order along with enforcement of the laws which supposedly were designed to protect pedestrians of all needs. Those who are driving have a comfortable place to sit. They are out of the weather, and quite frankly, if they need to wait a bit longer for a pedestrian to get across the street safely, it doesn't bother me one little bit.. They are moving a great big car which is not unlike a lethal weapon on wheels. Just like any gun, these vehicles can hurt and kill. I personally think most people handles their guns better than they handle their cars.
I hope these concerns will assist those who are looking into these matters in seeing that if it is wished for people who happen to be blind to participate within society, working and making their own livings and taking care of themselves, something must be done to help us stay out there. If not, we all stand to lose much. Society will have to take care of us more fully than ever before with respect to proper transportation and people to do errands, etc. I don't want to live as a shut-in, not able to do my part in my community. I have worked all of my adult life up until my accident. Because of my hearing loss, I can no longer do my work as a medical transcriptionist. I can, however, find other things to do as long as I can get around on my own with my guide dog or cane as necessary.
I urge you to make decisions which keep all of us able to do our part in society.
Dianne B. Phelps
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