|September 19, 2002|
I am writing to express my fervent and professional opposition to the placement of audible traffic signals at most intersections.
I am a Rehabilitation Instructor primarily teaching travel to blind people by use of the long white cane. I am totally blind and have traveled extensively throughout the world including to Nepal, a third world country, as part of the 2001 National Federation of the Blind MT Everest expedition which featured the only blind person, Erik Weihenmayer, ever to have scaled the tallest mountain in the world. I am deeply concerned about the underlying principle of creating a "blind friendly" environment in our country as though to imply that a blind person cannot competently nor safely travel anywhere outside of those prescribed boundaries.
Like most blind people I rely upon auditory information such as traffic patterns in order to safely determine when to cross streets. This method has not only been proven to be affective for me but also to the students whom I teach daily.
My experience with traffic signals as a whole, and audible traffic signals, in particular, has led to confusion and to impediments to the auditory information upon which I rely and, after all, which pose the most potential danger to me in my travels, namely motorists.
I urge you to consider the tested and proven determination of blind professionals in the field of rehabilitation training for the blind of all ages and abandon the idea that audible traffic signals are needed at most traffic intersections and to poll them as to which, if any, intersections might be made safer by self controlled ones that would not interfere with the environmental sounds upon which we so heavily rely.
I stand ready to discuss or demonstrate my position at any time and at your convenience.
Thank you for considering my response to a matter of such critical importance to blind travelers everywhere.
Blind Industries and Services of Maryland
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