|October 14, 2002|
Dear Access Board,
My name is Shelley Rhodes and I am writing to approve of what is going on as far as APS and audible crossing signals are concerned. I believe that these are very helpful and allow us more independence. I am a college student at Kutztown university where one of the more primative APS has been installed. For the last twelve years this audible signal has told us both sighted and blind when it is safe to cross Highway 222, which is the main street on campus. There are several people who continuely run the red light there, despite the local autthority's efforts to prevent this. The APS tells me when the walk cycle should be. Without it, there is no real clear way to identify when it is safe to cross.
There are many intersections where using traditional travel skills are not exactly safe any longer. Car engines are getting quieter, There are more cars on the road, and those lighted intersections are now becoming computerized; which means that the computer determines when enough cars have traveled through the intersection. These changes are causing many challenges for those of us who can't see, or those of us who can't see or hear.
Another use for the APS, is on intersections which to even sighted people pose a serious challenge. You know the ones I am r3eferring to, those with five streets converging into one, with turning lanes, and islands or other interesting architectural devices. These intersections are very difficult for everyone, and with sunshine or glare, the "visual" indicators are often impossible to read. There is such an intersection in Erie, Pennsylvania. The intersection is between a four lane highway and a two lane highway with turning lanes, or at least that is what I can interpret it as. It is one of those intersections i would avoid if I had the chance, but if I wish to go to the public library, there is no real safe way to get there. I have to cross at this intersection. Even my mobility instructor was rather confused by the way the traffic was behaving and how exactly was I going to able to cross it. We finally decided that taking a taxi would be safer. unfortunately it is also more expensive for someone on a limited budget.
Tactile warning strips are another excellent feature. There are several curbs that are flat, no change in elevation, or indication you have left the concrete to the black top of the street, a very scary concept if you are not able to see what is going on in the intersection. Very confusing. I am a guide dog user. he is my first guide dog, and before I trained with him, I used a white cane, these intersections are very difficult to detect with either mobility device.
In my opinion I think that the standards that are set forth for ppublic comment are quite excellent. I would gladly support the installation of an APs with their standards. And it is about time that Standards have been set.
i do have two criticisms though. First is, why do some APS have two sounds for an intersection. Usually these sounds are a cookoo and a Chirp. Now, the explanation i have been told is so you know when which traffic is being stopped, but at the intersections where these are installed, both go off at once, so isn't their a way to only have one, maybe a cookoo for northern cities where the bird doesn't live, and a tone of other bird sound for southern cities. Why the two sounds. They don't have much orientation value, as I see it.
Second criticism. When you install an APS, could you make the button you push vibrating for people who are deaf blind. For them, that might be the only indication it is safe to cross.
I know you have recieved a lot of conflicting information from many "consumer" groups. I am a member of ACb and agree with them on many of their positions. I find things a bit confusing with some of the organizations.
i hope this letter makes sense. Writing was never my forte at all. I just found it insulting that some in the blindness community, are we really a community, hmmm, that could be debated, don't agree with Standardizing something that could make a lot of lives besides those who are blind or deaf blind easier. I had to write in and say, I vote yes for the APS, and that the oppositions complaints are rather petty and when you look at them critically, have no real merit.
thank you for your time.
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