|October 27, 2002|
My name is Kari Kopischke. I am a totally blind traveler who uses a guide dog. I travel each and every day through the city going to college at the University of Minnesota and using the MTC bus system. It has come to my attention that the issue of accessible signs has come up in legislation. This is an issue that I feel is very important and I want to make sure my opinion is heard.
I do realize that there are blind groups out there who are against this legislation. This is an extremist group that many and most blind people in the metro area do not belong to, although this group would like people to think otherwise. I feel accessible signs would be a huge asset to the blind community. Every blind person who travels with a cane, a dog, or chooses to go it without, uses street crossings in the Minneapolis metropolitan area. We are all confident travelers who depend largely on the sound of traffic as a tool to know when to cross the street. Most of us are skilled travelers who know what we are doing. Having accessible signs would be a great asset to us however, since they reaffirm what we already know. Some intersections are not always clear as to when we should cross the street. Traffic sounds are often too loud, construction makes it hard to hear, or there isn't enough traffic to guide us.
These are only a few reasons why a blind traveler would benefit from the accessible signs. I was once a sighted person and I relied on the traffic signs to tell me when to go, even though I always knew when that wasn't a good idea. I used them as a guide to help me cross safely. I don't see why this should be any different as a blind person. If the sighted world didn't have the walk or don't walk signs, they would be in a sad state.
I hope this letter is concise enough to get my point across without taking up too much of your time. I would gladly bring myself and ten friends to come and say that accessible signs are a real asset to a community who already has enough struggles throughout the day without having to stress every time we come to an intersection. Please hear what we are saying and allow accessible signs in the Metropolitan area.
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