|October 27, 2002|
As a totally blind person traveling throughout a city where traffic is often
extremely heavy and paterns varied and unpredictable, I am constantly concerned
with making safe crossings. When I first heard of audible pedestrian signals I
thought, that sounds like a wonderful idea. However, in the past few weeks I
have changed my mind.
My cane and my ears are the tools I use to determine when and where I should cross the street. With my cane I can, with a few exceptions, locate the proper place. Ears are very sensative organs and blind folks must learn to distinguish background noises from those which have a bearing on the situation. Normal trqaffic creates enough of this background noise to make each intersection a real challenge to the blind traveler. If you throw in other distractions such as street repairs and construction sites, a good pair of ears is is almost imperative.
These audible pedestrian signals would merely add more background noise and put the blind traveler in an extremely dangerous position. Believe me, I would be the first person to say yes to something which would truly be of benefit to the blind. Certain situations and intersections may be appropriate for these devices, but certainly most crossings can be negotiated safely with a cane or guide dog.
From the research I have done, it seems that in 90 percent of the accidents involving blind pedestrians the driver has been found at fault. These proposed signals would certainly not help drivers. It seems to me that the money needed to complete such an undertaking could be put to better use--perhaps some additional sidewalks and repair to the existing ones. This improvement would be beneficial to everyone.
Thank you for considering my opinions.
Denise Franklin, President,
National Federation of the Blind of Greater Louisville
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