October 21, 2002
I write to ask you to support accessible traffic signals and detectable warnings
on subway platforms and at curb cuts. The reason is very simple
-- safety. Like their sighted peers, blind people need to know when to cross the
street and when they are nearing dangerous platform edges. Blind people cannot
see the edges of platforms. They need to be able to feel where they are without
getting so close that their safety is jeopardized. Sighted people get red and
green traffic lights as well as walk signals. Blind people cannot see the
information given by traffic signals so they need to hear it. If audible signals
were unnecessary for blind people, as some people allege, there is no argument
for sighted people needing visual signals either. It is only fair that blind
people have sensory access to traffic signal imformation. Yes, blind people
learn various strategies for getting necessary information when the environment
is not accessible, but these strategies require tremendous concentration, and
quite frankly are a burdensome challenge for many.
I hope that you and the access board will require the installation of detectable
warnings on all subway platforms as well as audible traffic signals when traffic
control devices are upgraded. I understand that it will take time for life to
become a little easier, especially in the age of complex traffic systems, but
the lives saved, possibly those of sighted persons as well as blind ones, will
be well worth our tax dollars.
Thank you for your attention.