O. Glenn Ervin
|September 20, 2002|
I have been alerted to the fact that there is a movement to require many audible traffic signals as well as detectable curb warnings in the making.
There are several reasons why I am opposed to such installations. I am a person who is Blind, and I travel every day with a long white cane. I also teach mobility with a long white cane to persons of all ages, including the elderly. I have taught many including the elderly to cross busy streets without audible traffic signals. I learned to use the long white cane as an adult in my twenties, over twenty years ago. I have taught mobility to the Blind for nearly fifteen years. I have also had several opportunities to experience the audible traffic signals, and I know they are expensive and dangerous.
It has been my experience that the signals are noisy, and distracting from the natural sounds of traffic, which is what I teach people to use for perfectly safe mobility. Although there might be a small handful of crossings in the major cities that are difficult for an extreme minority of the Blind, there are many more that think they need it when they really do not. It is as ridiculous as the Blind needing a Handicap parking sticker, when they do not drive, and they can be let out at the door. It is an example of poor adjustment to Blindness. As for the detectable curb warnings, I have never had difficulty locating curbs, and if there are some that are difficult to be detected, it would be easier to just put a little steeper grade to the curbs in question.
Now one might say, "why should a Blind person want less assistance for himself or others?". It is because the most difficult aspect of Blindness is the fact that each and every day of my life, I, and other Blind folks, are faced with comments from the general public, although well intended, is perceived by me to be degrading or disrespectful. For example, as I am taking my son to school in the morning before I walk to work, and the grade school cross guard feels the need to tell me that it is safe for me to cross, never mind that I just walked my child to school safely. Then as I continue on to work, I am constantly told from the windows of cars that it is clear to cross the street, while I am waiting for traffic to stop from the other direction before I step off the curb. Do these people think I just magically appeared at this corner? Or do these people think I walk to a corner and wait for some kind person to get me across the street? These are but a couple of examples of the Blind's plight with society and their backward attitudes about Blindness. It is no wonder that potential employers don't give us the time of day when we are looking for a job, and we experience over 70% unemployment.
The implementation of these so called aids will hurt the Blind far more than they will help. We have made some progress from the stereotype of the Blind beggar, but a wide-spread implementation of such devices will definitely set us back to a greater custodial attitude of Blindness, which we have fought so hard to break away from.
In conclusion, I would suggest using the moneys earmarked for such a project be used to provide more counselors for the state agencies to which are charged with providing rehabilitation to the Blind. There are too few counselors to provide rehabilitation. More and better rehabilitation would produce the Disabled better skills to live independently, which would make more tax paying citizens of the Blind.
O. Glenn Ervin
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