|August 28, 2002|
As the Director of a state-wide rehabilitation program that works to build the attitudes and skills of independence for blind people, I am appalled that the Access Board would even consider proposals that would make it mandatory to install accessible” pedestrian signals and detectable warnings (bumpy domes) everywhere in the United States.
I am trying to teach my students how to live and work in a world that is largely designed for people with sight, and I am trying to demonstrate to them that street crossings and hazardous areas are possible for them to negotiate with little or no modification. If one will learn how to negotiate a crossing without a beeping light, one can go everywhere; if one only learns to trust crossing an intersection with such a noise maker, then one is often mentally limited only to such crossings. Yes, in some instances, I can envision a scenario where an accessible pedestrian signal, properly configured, can help a blind person to cross a particularly difficult intersection by alerting him or her to the state of the “walk” signal, but for the most part, specialized signals for the blind are not necessary and, in fact, downright harmful. I would never want such devices to be installed at the agency where my students are being taught.
As far as the bumpy domes are concerned, I think that in many situations, they actually do more harm than good. A blind person should never count on such domes being present near hazardous areas. Instead, a properly trained individual should use the white cane or dog guide and their other 4 senses to observe what is going on in the immediate vicinity. This is what we teach our students. Be alert and careful, and you can travel safely and efficiently without sight. Our students have proven to be successful independent travelers.
Please use common sense when deciding on a policy for accessible pedestrian signals and bumpy domes. For the most part, blind people don’t need them, and I know many who absolutely do not want them!
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