|October 5, 2002|
I am a blind person who, for all of my life, have
traveled safely using a long white cane and have done so in the almost exclusive
absence of audible traffic signals. Instinctively, I feel that such signals
would prove to be a distraction to me as I cross a busy intersection. In fact, I
found this to be true at the one intersection at which I have been presented
with a "chirping" signal. This intersection is in Buffalo NY and is about one
half block south of the private agency serving blind people in that city.
However, I don't feel qualified to speak for all blind travelers. Blind people receive varying levels of travel training in terms of the quality of that training so it is not surprising that some folks who haven't received high quality travel training might believe that audible signals would be helpful to them. And, in fact, in the face of less than optimal training, such signals might serve a positive purpose. In general, however, I believe that added noise in an already noisy environment can only spell possible danger. My suggested solution is this: If an audible signal is to exist at a given intersection (and let me add, here, that such should not be universally required) an "on/off" switch, connected to the audible device, should be installed on the pole on which the push button is present so a blind traveler could then choose to turn the audible signal on or off at his or her discretion.
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