October 7, 2002
To the Members of the Access Board:
I am responding to your request for input on your report having to do with the
needs of blind and visually impaired people for help in using sidewalks and
crossing streets. Frankly, I am shocked at what I perceive as your impression of
the helplessness of blind travelers along our streets and byways.
I am seventy years old and have been traveling with a white cane for the last
forty of those seventy years. I learned to walk on roads and sidewalks and to
cross streets using automobile traffic flow to travel straight paths and to know
when I could cross a street with the green light. Then I started coming upon
audible traffic signals whose noise made it difficult to hear the traffic. These
signals made me feel unsafe in making street crossings I had made many times. I
also found myself tripping on bumpy materials alongside some sidewalk edges. I
later found out that these tripping hazards were "tactile edge detectors"
installed for my safety. Do I really need to be this safe?
Now I find that you are recommending that these noisy signals and tripping
hazards be installed practically throughout the "free world". Am I going to have
to pay taxes to make myself and other blind people "safe" according to your
misguided perception of safe travel for the blind?
Please, ladies and gentlemen of the Access Board, rethink the ideas your report