|September 5, 2002|
Please exercise restraint when implementing a policy requiring the installation of detectable warnings and so-called accessible pedestrian signals, formerly known as audible traffic lights. The Access Board is at a historical decision point. It can either take a bold stance recognizing that people with disabilities are competent human beings who would benefit most from proper training or it can buy into the generally held view in society that people with disabilities are little more than wards of the state.
The over-all accessibility movement will suffer a significant setback if the Access Board requires the ubiquitous installation of “accessible” pedestrian signals and detectable warnings. These technologies are neither essential for the blind to travel safely and efficiently nor to improve access to public rights of way. We are already crossing streets and negotiating dangerous areas without them. In fact, undue reliance on either technology will pose a definite hazard for blind pedestrians because many will perceive these technologies as diminishing the need for proper travel training and alertness to the immediate environment.
The cost to society of installing detectable warnings and “accessible pedestrian signals at every intersection is simply too high--especially, when one realizes that they do not improve accessibility. Perhaps they may address some issues of safety, but the public rights of way are already accessible to the blind. Please do not mix issues of safety with accessibility. You are an Access Board—not the National Highway Safety Administration, and as such, your attention should be focused solely on accessibility.
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