October 15, 2002
I recently heard about an effort to equip all traffic signals with audible
systems, supposedly to allow the blind person to hear when it is safe to cross
the street. I am not visually impaired myself, but my father is, and I have
worked for blind persons, and I have many visually impaired friends. It is my
observation that they have many things to listen to while they go about their
daily lives, making a signal that is audible will only make it more confusing,
adding to the noise pollution that many cities already have, as well as making
it dangerous, giving some of them a false sense of security. As a sighted
person, you should know that just because the signal says to walk does not mean
that there are no cars. Also, there are a number of persons who are blind and
deaf. These signals would have no benefit for them.
Basically, these signals would be a huge waste of money. This money would be
better spent going into the schools and teaching blind children how to safely
cross the street and taking the time to assist the newly blind in adjusting to
their situation by teaching them how to do things for themselves, including
crossing the street.
People treat blind people like they need to be put on a pedestal and taken care
of. I know from experience that these people just need to have the
self-confidence to get out there and do things and they will be fine. Once they
learn that they can do anything, just try to stop them. My father is an
automobile mechanic, I have a friend who owns and operates a cafeteria, and
another friend who owns her own business.
None of these people need to have an audible signal to cross the road.
Installing one on their street would most likely offend them, not help them.
I hope that you will reconsider the effort you are putting into this, as it is a
waste of taxpayers' money.