|Rebecca Kragnes||September 9, 2002|
I am writing to support the position of the American Council of the Blind (ACB) concerning the need for accessible pedestrian signals and detectable warnings. Both of these items will make it safe for people who choose to use them. I haven't experienced the benefits of detectable warnings on train platforms, but we are soon to have a light rail system in Minneapolis where I reside. After having the frightening experience of using noisy, crowded subway stations where detectable warning signals were not available, I hope that Minneapolis and the nation will make use of them. I have benefited from an accessible pedestrian signal at a particularly dangerous intersection -- a wide street with lots of fast-moving traffic with very little traffic on the parallel street. It has been one more tool which helped me to travel safely.
I understand that you are receiving arguments from members of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). They tell you that somehow accessible pedestrian signals and detectable warnings make the general public view blind people negatively. The general public use traffic signals and see warning signs. They understand the value of both of these things, and do not begrudge us having equivalent measures. The reality is that accessible pedestrian signals and detectable warnings save lives, and the lives of blind citizens are worth more than some abstract, ideological principle. If Federation members choose not to use accessible pedestrian signals anddetectable warnings, that's their business. However, I don't want to see NFB's supposed "philosophy of blindness" deny all blind people from having these options available. NFB is also saying that accessible pedestrian signals and detectable warnings aren't necessary if blind people have good travel skills. First, not all blind people have good travel skills. There are those who are denying their blindness, who are elderly, and/or may not be good travelers despite training. Should they be punished by being denied accessible pedestrian signals and detectable warnings and having to risk their lives because of their lack of skills or abilities in the area of travel? Second, blind people who have good travel skills have found these things to be helpful to them. All of the good travel skills in the world won't help in situations blind travelers find themselves in every day. Accessible pedestrian signals and detectable warnings are two more tools which can be used by a good traveler. Thank you for your time effort and consideration of this matter. Sincerely,
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