|October 14, 2002|
Dear Access Board Members:
I am legally blind and have been for 30 years and I have dedicated the past twenty years working with blind South Carolinians as the Executive Director of the Federation Center of the Blind in Columbia, SC.
It is my considered opinion, as well as that of many successful blind individuals I work with, that APS's and detectible warnings are not only unnecessary but are also a great hindrance to the blind. This may seem contradictory to what you are trying to do, but I can tell you that to the trained blind person, an audible traffic signal tends to block out the noise of the traffic or is a detraction to listening to what's going on in an intersection. The noise of the audible traffic signal can cause a blind person to not be able to listen to traffic turning right on red, detract from hearing the flow of traffic through the intersection for left turning cross traffic and hinder the ability to cross through intersections which are not straight.
Further, truncated domes or other such devices cause a blind person at an intersection to catch their cane tips on them which can either break the tip or, at the very least, break the concentration of the blind person trying to enter the intersection. There is no substitute for proper cane travel instruction and techniques. If the funds which would have been designated to implement this proposed change in intersection crossings were spent on training mobility instructors throughout the nation (of which there is a short supply), then there would be no cause for this action. Those who promote these issues are most likely poorly trained in mobility instruction and must rely upon costly and unecessary man made assistive devices which hinder those with confident and properly trained orientation and mobility techniques of cane travel and travel with guide digs.
In this economic age of recession, we can not afford to waste the taxpayer's monies in what the blind really do not need. Instead, let's concentrate on proper orientation and mobility training. If you want to know more about proper mobility skills, I suggest that you contact Dr. Marc Maurrer, President, National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson St., Baltimore, MD 21230 or even Joanne Wilson, Commissioner, Rehabilitation Services Administration, US Department of Education, Washington, DC. Both are eminently qualified in this area.
Federation Center of the Blind
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