David A. Paullin
October 21, 2002
My name is David Paullin. I am 19 years old. I am currently a student at the
Colorado Center for the Blind. I have a very rare genetic syndrome called
Lawrence Moon Bardet Biedel Syndrome (LMBBS) for short. One of the symptoms of
the syndrome is Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) for short.
I have worn glasses since I was 18 months old. I began to finally cope and
accept the fact that I was legally blind at age 17. Before then, I was very
afraid to even say the word blind. The transition from the sighted world to the
blind world is very difficult and should not be taken lightly. I am sure that
all of you would rather be sighted than blind, because the blind community would
My visual acuity is 20/100 with glasses. I have 9 degrees of peripheral vision.
Thus, I am considered a high partial. A person is considered legally blind if
they have less than 10 degrees of peripheral vision or if their vision is
greater than 20/200.
So, they do not have to have no sight at all to be considered legally blind or
blind in general.
Therefore, in 2000, I went to a Summer Youth Retreat for blind youth. I finally
began to take the first step in becoming a confident and independent blind
individual. I learned how to travel with a white cane, read and write Braille,
do home management skills, and work on becoming a proficient user of a personal
computer. However, this Summer Youth Retreat lasted only for seven days. I got
out of it as much as I put into it. I made many friends there and I continue to
keep in contact with them.
I finished high school. I was accepted to five of the seven colleges that I
applied to. I settled on Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. I had won 12
academic scholarships. Gonzaga deferred my admission until the Spring Semester.
I received scholarships and grants. I am very lucky to have the opportunity to
attend such a prestigious university as Gonzaga. I look forward to being a Zag.
Nevertheless, some blind individuals are not as lucky as I am. They do not get
the opportunity to learn about blindness and how a positive light can be put on
it. I am learning the skills of blindness which in the blind community are
called "alternative techniques."
We believe that if we learn these "alternative techniques" then we can compete
on terms of equality with our sighted counterparts.
I am a new member of the National Federation of the Blind. The philosophy of the
N.F.B. is: Equality, Opportunity, and Security. When it was first put together
in 1940, its main focus was to make sure that blind people had food to eat and a
place to live (Security). As time has gone on, they have acted in the interests
of thousands of blind people to guarantee that they are given the opportunity to
compete on terms of equality with their sighted counterparts. Basically, if you
give us a chance (Opportunity), we will show you that we can prove
I have learned that if I can do anything if I am proficient in the skills of
blindness. You wish to take away our ability to use audible cues to cross
streets. We are not helpless or in need of more help than any other human being.
You forget that we are human beings-people. We deserve our dignity and
self-respect to live our lives as normal people.
I use parallel and perpendicular traffic to cross streets. The parallel traffic
is the traffic that I want to walk with. When it goes, the perpendicular traffic
stops. I have to listen to both sets of traffic in order to cross a street in a
perfect line. If I am not lined up properly, then I will veer into traffic most
likely. I use cardinal directions to know where I am going. For example, the sun
rises in the east and sets in west. This helps me. However, I can't always use
the sun. So, I have to know the direction of the streets (cardinal direction)
and where I want to go. When I say cardinal directions, I mean in what direction
a cardinal would fly if it were traveling in the air. At an acuated
intersection, I have to press a button. When a car comes to an intersection, it
triggers a metallic strip. This strip gives pedestrians 11 seconds to cross the
intersection. By pressing the button, the pedestrian is given 4 more seconds for
every car that is in the intersection.
If these audible pedestrian signals are put in place, they are going to be
confusing. At one time, there could be 8 signal tones going at one time. Also,
there is traffic going in all directions. This will most likely confuse blind
pedestrians as well as sighted pedestrians.
It costs $4,000 for every APS or ATS. That will equate to $12,000 to $16,000
spent on every intersection.
Also, the detector warnings are a nuisance. They as well as APS's or ATS's
should only be put at "difficult" intersection crossings. I mean intersections
where a curb cut may not be able to be detected. We can tell that we are at a
driveway or a street, because curb cuts are put in place so rain water will
dispose into the water drains. At some intersections, it is a little bit more
difficult to identify how to cross these streets. If the recommendations for
guide lines are indeed put into place, it will cost tax payers $11-12 billion
dollars. I believe that this is a frivolous waste of money. I vehemntly oppose
the construction and implementation of such APS's or ATS's. It would be an
outrageous and capricious act to do so. I am going to be studying political
science in order to be a politician. A good politician listens to what the
people have to say. Based on concrete evidence (facts and figures) he/she makes
a decision. I hope you ladies and gentleman make the right one. Please don't do
this. It makes no sense. Last week, I walked with the chirping bird as sighted
people told me to. I made a diagonal crossing from the SW corner to the NE
corner. i almost got hit by on-coming traffic. So, from now on, I am just going
to listen to the parallel and perpendicular traffic. I hope you have listened
carefully to what I have had to say. I hope you act in the interest of the
nation. Thank You.
David A. Paullin