|October 6, 2002|
Dear Access Board:
I am writing in support of the Access Board proposed guidelines concerning accessible public rights-of-way. The provisions of greatest importance to me involve accessible pedestrian signals and detectable warnings.
The Americans with Disabilities Act guarantees the right of access to information to persons with disabilities. Many signalized intersections provide information to pedestrians with sight that is not available, unless accessible pedestrian signals are used, to persons with visual impairments. In my orientation and mobility training years ago I was taught to use the cues given by the sounds of traffic flow to determine when it was safe to cross at an intersection. This technique becomes problematic, however, at complex intersections where several roads converge; at localities where free right turns are common; at times when parallel traffic is intermittent, thus hard to gauge; or in areas where environmental noise, such as construction, makes accurate assessment of traffic patterns difficult.
Detectable warning strips are essential along train and subway platforms. They can and do save lives. At crosswalks, detectable warnings in curb cuts give an extra level of protection to blind individuals to help avoid accidentally traveling into the line of traffic.
In an ideal situation, all blind people would have received thorough orientation and mobility instruction and would use proper travel techniques at all times; all intersections would be uniform and predictable; and all drivers and pedestrians would be constantly attentive and never distracted by something in their environment. Since life’s realities are much different than this, I believe that it is imperative that we do what we can to provide all pedestrians, including those with visual impairments, the best chance possible for safe travel.
Thank you for your consideration of these comments.
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