October 28, 2002
To Whom it may Concern:
My name is Amy Shaw. My address [ ... ]. I am a member of our state affiliate of
the American Council of the Blind, and I am a charter member of Carolina Paws,
our state affiliate of Guide Dog Users incorporated. I am writing in favor of
detectable warnings and audio pedestrian signs.
I live in a busy metropolitan area. I have experienced the reassuring presence
of audio signals in the cities of Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina. I travel
with the use of a guide dog and although my travels are limited right now
because of some physical disabilities, I believe strongly in the rights of safe
travel for visually impaired people whether they use guide dogs or white canes.
I have had extensive mobility training with white canes and guide dogs. I never
even considered being denied the same information about traffic, traffic signals
and anything else I needed to know about the safety of traveling in what ever
environment I chose to, or found it necessary to get where I needed to be.
I recently earned a Master's degree in Special Education and am a certified
teacher of visually impaired children. Sometimes I have had to work with
visually impaired children on developing mobility skills and safe travel habits.
I have found that fear plays a huge part in the hesitation for visually impaired
children to become independent travelers. This is sometimes true even if an
individuals have extensive training. I feel that detectable warnings and audio
signals help to diminish these fears.
Here in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, we are on the verge of
getting a light rail system built to make travel between Raleigh, DURHAM and
Chapel Hill easier, and to elevate traffic problems on the areas highways. This
is a wonderful opportunity for visually impaired and guide dog users to get in
on the ground level with the developers of this thing to make sure that
accessible accommodations and safety features are given full and adequate
consideration for installation.
Traveling without sight can be a very frightening and dangerous thing. This is
sometimes true if you have the luxury of traveling with sighted assistance.
However, there is no question that detectable warnings and audio signs need to
be incorporated into society. Whether visually impaired persons choose to use
them or not is a matter of choice. Visually impaired people should not be forced
to jeopardize their feelings about personal safety because some blind folks feel
the presence of detectable warnings or audible signs somehow calls attention to
their disability. No matter how extensive a persons training you still need to
be alert to the ever-changing environment such as listening to traffic. Audible
signs just provide much needed and appreciated reassurance that the visually
impaired pedestrian has made the right decision about crossing the street. Even
sighted people have been known to express their appreciation for detectable
warnings. They call immediate attention to what could be a dangerous situation.
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing about your decision.