October 28, 2002
To Whom It May Concern,
My name is Michael Hingson. My address is [ .... ].
I am emailing this to you to provide my comments on your proposed policies
concerning audible traffic signals. Should you require additional information
from me please feel free to contact me.
AUDIBLE TRAFFIC SIGNALS AND DETECTABLE WARNINGS
I am submitting these comments with regards to the issues being considered by
the United States Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board
[Access Board] regarding audible traffic signals and detectable warnings.
I am a guide dog user and have been so for 38 years. I also use a long cane. I
use both with equal skill. In my professional career I travel a considerable
amount. My travels require me to go to both small and large metropolitan
environments. Because I choose to use a guide dog most of the time I will submit
my remarks based on being a guide dog user. However, my opinion is the same when
I happen to be using a cane.
I am opposed to the installation of audible traffic signals at all
intersections. Blind persons who have received orientation and mobility training
and/or training in the use of a guide dog are able to negotiate street crossings
using auditory clues. The audible signal does not indicate that it is clear to
cross the street only that the light sequence has changed. In most cases the
audible signal is not used as a landmark for navigation.
I am concerned that if audible pedestrian signals are installed at all
intersections, and these signals include a locator tone, this could be cause for
audible confusion due to the numerous tones at each intersection.
Audible traffic signals can be of benefit when factors in the environment impede
the ability of a blind or visually impaired person to audibly detect the correct
time to cross. I therefore submit that audible pedestrian signals be installed
on an as-needed basis to allow blind and visually impaired travelers to
accurately determine traffic patterns. Input from local blind organizations and
the local blind population would be the best resource for determining where
audible pedestrian signals would be most useful.
Regarding the installation of detectable warnings. Those blind persons who are
independent travelers have received training in detecting cues regarding the
transition from sidewalk to street. Therefore the need for detectable warnings
at the end of every sidewalk is not necessary. Where the slope between sidewalk
and street is 1:15 or flatter, a detectable warning may well be of assistance to
A detectable warning at every intersection will also cause a considerable
expense to be incurred which will cause many communities to balk at providing
funding where real accessible issues may occur.
Again, if I may provide additional information please contact me.