|October 23, 2002|
I urge the Access Board to act favorably on the recommendations of the
Public Rights of Way Advisory Committee regarding detectable warnings and
accessible pedestrian signals.
We live and travel in an increasingly complex and noise-filled world, and blind and visually impaired travelers need information that will help ensure their safety. Audible pedestrian signals provide the same information as the visual walk signs that tell sighted pedestrians when it is safe to cross streets. Just as sighted people must also pay attention to whether vehicles are obeying traffic signals, blind people must use their listening skills as well to judge when it is safe to cross streets.
I have had only one experience at an intersection with audible traffic signals, but I was in a city unfamiliar to me, and I found this additional information affirmed my judgements about the traffic in a very reassuring way. I crossed at this intersection for several days and felt so much safer than I normally do when crossing streets. I would feel so much more confident if I had audible signals at more busy intersections. Because I cannot read walk signs, I have much less information to rely on than sighted people when they decide to cross a street.
Regarding detectable warnings on subway platforms, these indicators would again provide vital additional information to blind travelers who may not always be familiar with a particular subway station or with subway platforms in general. These environments are especially noisy and challenging to navigate. The cost of detectable platform edges seems minimal when the consequences of falling off the edge are potentially fatal.
I believe many older people, whose senses are not as sharp as they once were, would also benefit from both audible signals and detectable warnings. Not everyone has the opportunity to receive training in the skills blind and visually impaired people use to travel independently, but everyone deserves the opportunity to travel as safely as possible. Audible traffic signals and detectable warnings contribute to a much safer environment.
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