October 18, 2002
I am commenting on the draft guideline proposal that is due by October 28, 2002.
On the subject of audible traffic signals, I would like to say that it would be
a waste of tax dollars to put these signals on every signal that has a walk
sign. They don't help us people who are blind or visually impaired. Even though
I can see a little, I rely on my hearing when crossing a street. When there is
that much extra noise when crossing it makes it hard to pay attention and more
dangerous than it would be without the audible signals.
I have only experienced the audible signals that were recently installed in
Albany, but I understand that there are other types that make less noise than
the coo coo tweet tweet kind and even then it's a waste of money to put them in
crossings that are easily navigated by using the flow of traffic.
If blind people are ever to be treated equally, it won't happen by altering the
environment. If this happens, then every time a blind person will apply for a
job, the employer will think of those signals and think that they will have to
alter the work place to accommodate the blind employee. Every time a blind
person will go to a fast food restaurant, someone will feel like they have to
give the blind person extra help. This will set back blind people's progress by
One answer to those who feel like they need the extra help in crossing streets
is to get additional mobility training. I had lost more of my sight recently to
complications of diabetes and had to get use to not seeing as much as I did
before. I was afraid to travel alone for a while. My mobility training
reinforced what I already knew and gave me the confidence to get back out on my
Those who feel these signals are helpful are people, like I was for a time, not
traveling alone in need of special assistance. In that case the traffic signals
are no help to them, because they aren't traveling independently.
I have never encountered detectable warnings either, but myself and other blind
people I know have no trouble telling the difference between sidewalk and
street. For one thing, sidewalk has a different texture than the street and is
easily detected by using a white cane. Guide dogs are trained to stop at the
curb and await the user's command. Legally blind people who travel without a
cane and can see enough have no trouble telling the difference.
I think the cost of the proposed changes would be better spent on other services
for the blind and wouldn't cost as much as these changes that are proposed.
Thank you for allowing me to voice my opinion.