Stephen O. Benson
|October 12, 2002|
I have traveled independently, using a long white cane since 1956.
Since then I have taught techniques of independent travel and I have written “So
What About Independent Travel: An Introduction to the Use of the Long White
Cane”. The text was based on my own travels and on the cumulative experience of
other blind people. I think it is safe to say that our collective travel
experience amounts to several hundred thousand miles. When independent travel
techniques are taught properly, and when blind people are given the proper
encouragement, travel with the long white cane empowers blind people to
participate in the full current of life on terms of equality.
Universal installation of audible traffic signals and detectable warning surfaces at all intersections simply is not necessary. There is no evidence anywhere that would justify the enormous cost governmental bodies would incur by this wild, irrational policy draft. The overwhelming number of intersections does not require audible traffic signals (ATS). In fact, as proposed, the ATS would cause tremendous confusion and would certainly endanger the average blind person’s safe crossing of a signalized intersection. Intersections that have complex geometry, signalization, or complex traffic patterns might deserve thorough examination with regard to the possibility of installation of ATS; but, that investigation should be made only with consultation with competent blind travelers. If excessive noise is also a feature of a complex intersection, audible traffic signals would definitely add a significant level of danger to the blind traveler. I rely on sound to cross all intersections and I can assure you that excessive noise, especially that allegedly designed to help, is not wanted.
With regard to detectable warnings at intersections, those proposed in the ADAAG draft are beyond reason. There are so many cues in the built environment that detectable warnings would be a nuisance and a hindrance not a benefit. I live in Chicago where we often have ice and snow. Ice and snow accumulated and caked within detectable warning surfaces constitutes an extreme hazard to blind and sighted pedestrians alike. Heavy accumulation of ice and snow totally obliterates textured pavement, underscoring its uselessness.
One more point: the installations proposed in the ADAAG draft totally ignore the economic impact on municipal, county, state and federal governments. As a tax payer who is totally blind, I would much prefer that the dollars that would be earmarked for the proposed installations be used to properly train blind people in the alternative skills of blindness, including independent travel with a long white cane or guide dog.
I implore you to reject the ADAAG draft proposal as written. Please seriously consider the alternative or minority report submitted by the National Federation of The Blind. It makes sense. If you have questions, please contact me at (773) 775-9765, home, or (312) 745-0991, work.
Very truly yours,
Stephen O. Benson
index previous comment next comment