|October 24, 2002|
I am amazed at how many individuals have the mistaken idea that
signals and detectable warning strips will be installed "everywhere". Either I misread
the access board guidelines or am missing something here.
I have been traveling independently for over 30 years (first with a white cane and
now with a guide dog). Everything I learned related to traffic patterns, pedestrian right
of way, safe crossings- just do not apply today- If were to follow ALL the rules of
crossing streets today, I'd still be standing at the same street corner I started to cross
six months ago.
We have much heavier traffic patterns, more motorist running red lights,
more pedestrians crossing against the lights, and more turning traffic. If a
sighted individual opts not to use a pedestrian signal (ie a visual walk or don't walk sign)
when crossing a street, than that is his/her decision. What is so terribly wrong with
giving me (and other blind and visually impaired travelers access to those visual
Accessible Pedestrian signals are not meant to take our decision making skills
away, nor are they meant to substitute for all our past training. They are designed and
to be used as an tool- to suppliment the skills one already has.
If we follow the NFB's logic - that audible pedestrian signals stereotype us, then why is
it ok for us to use other adaptive technologies such as screenreaders and
refreshable braille displays for our computers? Don't those tools point us out as
Audible Pedestrian signals do not alert us to turning traffic, they don't alert us to
motorist running a red light- we have to use our hearing and be aware of what is going on
around us. The audible signals do indicate that you have a "walk signal". You
still have to listen for traffic to determine if it is safe to cross.
If you don't like the signals, just don't use them. Allow me- and others- to make the choice to
use or not use audible signals as a tool when we make various street crossings.
I applaud the Access Boards efforts to include access issues in the ADA for Blind
and visually impaired consumers. Please do not be bullied into removing language from
guidelines that gives me the same access to visual signals (such as a yellow platform
lines or a visual pedestrian signals)
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