October 22, 2002
Hello, My name is Rachael Abbott. I am writing to show my strong support for the
PROWAC audible signals and warnings. I am a young low vision student. I work in
SW Washington DC and use the Metro a lot. I know that many low vision and blind
individuals would benefit greatly from audible signals and detectable warnings.
Many think it might infringe upon blind/low vision individuals independence.
However, I think it increases our independence. It allows us to walk confidently
and safely across the street. We don't have to rely on others to let us know
when to cross the street. In a way it also strengthens our confidence as
individuals. There are so many times that I can not see the street light or walk
signal. It is really hard to know when to cross the street. Also, for blind
individuals warning strips in all cities subway transit system is extremely
helpful. Metro has been very good about putting in warning strips, however there
are several Metro stations that do not have warning strips, it is a smooth
surface. This is very dangerous. It is dangerous because it is not hard to
become disoriented in the metro stations and an individual may fall into the
A few years ago before Metro put warning strips in some of the stations, my
father who is blind and uses a cane, was coming home from work. Please note here
that my dad has traveled throughout the US and locally by himself. He is a well
trained and skilled blind individual. I say this because many believe that it is
lack of training and skill that causes blind people to make "not so good"
choices when traveling and crossing streets. This is not true. My dad was
walking along the metro platform to wait for the train. Someone informed him he
was too close to the edge. He didn't know what side they were talking about and
when he turned to steer away from the edge. It was the wrong way. He fell into
the tracks, as a train was on its way and thankfully someone reached down and
pulled him up. My dad could have died and it all could have been prevented by
warning strips. He still has some lingering pain from the accident every now and
then. I don't think that detectable warnings make blind people look bad. I think
that sighted people would have no second thoughts of warning strips. I don't
think that a sighted person sees warning strips and says "oh the poor blind
person. They need help. Poor blind people they don't have independence". How
ridiculous. I think it is completely the opposite. I think sighted people would
say, "How nice of them to put these warning strips in to keep blind people safe.
I bet this helps them be more confident and independent while traveling." In
fact I've asked sighted people what they thought of the warning strips in the DC
Metro system and they didn't even know that it was for blind people. They
thought it was just a detectable marking to indicate "stay behind this point for
your safety" If I thought warnings strips reflected bad on blind people then it
would reflect bad on my dad. I think very highly of my father through all his
accomplishments and having detectable warning strips does not reflect bad on him
it keeps him safe so I can spend more time with him.
Finally, my parents had a friendship with a blind couple who were killed while
crossing a very congested intersection and difficult intersection to cross. They
were well trained and traveled a lot. I really think that detectable warnings
would have helped them. I know people think it will be too noisy but there could
be an option of using an on/off switch. So if people didn't want to use the
audible signal they could chose so. But please support putting in audible
signals. It is good for blind people and low vision people who may not have had
mobility training yet. I have well enough sight to walk around but not enough to
see the walk signal.
I thank you very much for your time and consideration. I strongly support this
issue and I asked that you would do the same as well. Thank you!
I would like to make one more quick remark about the audible warning signals. I
have a sighted friend who is from England and she has explained to me that in
England and Scotland they have audible signals at the street crossings and she
found them quite helpful.
Thank you for your time!