|August 14, 2002|
To Whom It May Concern:
1 am writing regarding your proposal to require audible traffic signals at all traffic lights and to require truncated domes at the curbs of crosswalks at these intersections. This would be a deplorable waste of money, and it could be very harmful.
I have been blind all my life and I have taught independent travel to newly blinded adults. Therefore, I have some knowledge of how blind people cross at intersections.
If blind people do not have adequate training to cross at intersections by listening to the sounds of the traffic, most will not be able to cross these intersections independently because of some extra noise. Furthermore, extra noise will make it harder for those of us who are blind to hear the traffic sounds that are most important for us to hear.
Truncated domes make walkways rough. Rough walkways cause people to fall Falling breaks bones and causes other injuries. We don’t need them I have myself witnessed items falling out of strollers and Out of grocery carts when they are pushed across these truncated domes on a ramp. I have observed people who were thrown off balance because of these “humpy bumpy” surfaces. When they are wet, they become slick and even more dangerous. Furthermore, at most intersections, they are not helpful to the blind.
If you require city engineers and street personnel to install special facilities that are not needed, you send a false message that says the blind are unable to travel on the streets and sidewalks of our communities and cities without these special facilities. Since the message is false, it demeans the blind and makes it more likely that those who are required to pay for, design, and install these signals and surfaces wilt refuse to hire the blind, even when they are well qualified, and they will treat the blind as second-class citizens when they encounter blind people in other situations.
I could go on at much greater length regarding this unwise proposal, but I do not know whether you would read it all. So I will confine myself to one more point. Recently I was in San Diego and observed bird signals along Pacific Highway. Either the signals were not clear to me (but I do not think so) or they were set incorrectly. If 1 had tried to cross the street when it
sounded as though the signal said I should move, I would have been walking against the light and in real danger. I was accompanied by a sighted person who expressed alarm about this matter. Thus, maintenance of these things would also be essential and cost additional money.
You can calculate the cost of all these requirements better than I can. Perhaps you know how many controlled intersections there are in cities across the country. My guess is that there are millions. I would rather spend the millions of dollars required on air port security, education, and numerous other things. We cannot afford to waste this amount of money in this way. I assume that the Board Members are conscientious Americans and do not wish to pay higher taxes any more than I do. What I am asking you to do is eliminate this requirement on all intersections. If a few particular intersections need something extra, blind people can bring it to the attention of the appropriate local officials.
Very truly yours,
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