|October 22, 2002|
Dear members of the Access Board,
I write in opposition to the universal installation of audible traffic signals and detectable warnings throughout our nation.
I am 55 years old and have traveled throughout this country and abroad using my long white cane. In addition, when my children were small, it was my responsibility to see to their safety as we crossed the many streets of New York City together. The training I received when I was a teenager and the life experience I accumulated in the following years has enabled me to travel our land with no more incident than my sighted counterparts.
It seems to me that the intent of the Access Board and the authors of such legislation as the Americans with Disabilities Act are to integrate all Americans into the mainstream of life. Universal installation of such devices will not achieve that end. Those who require such devices for their mobility through the environment most likely will not venture forth to avail themselves of their features since they probably lack the confidence and training necessary to travel alone. Moreover, the silent message which these audible signals send is that blind people are not competent to negotiate their own environment without an overwhelming expense and modification by their government.
We as blind people struggle daily to undo society’s misconceptions of us. These signals and unnecessary detectable warnings would only serve to reinforce already existing falsehoods about blindness and blind people. No other governmental body would dare make such sweeping assumptions about the capabilities of any other minority group. Please do not make such faulty reasoning into policy thereby placing an entire group of Americans into an undeserved category, that of incapable.
I write to you not only as a blind American but the President of the National
Federation of the Blind of New York State. It goes without saying that thousands
of blind people have traveled the streets and used the mass transit system of
New York City and have traveled elsewhere in our state with no greater incident
of accident than our sighted neighbors. While these signals may be a good idea
in some cases and at some intersections, they should be on a case by case basis
and after consultation with the organized blind speaking through their elected
leadership in the respective towns and cities. I urge you to accept the minority
report of the National Federation of the Blind and allow blind people to
continue their journey to first class citizenship.
index previous comment next comment