|October 5, 2002|
I am writing to state my objection to the proposed regulations. I am a blind person who worked for three years as an orientation and mobility instructor. I taught dozens of blind people of varying ages and mental abilities to travel safely in an urban environment using a long white cane, their hearing, and other alternative techniques. While some intersections with irregular geometry and auditorally ambiguous turn signals may be more easily negotiated by blind travelers if a audible signal were in place, at least 95% of the intersections I have encountered in Minneapolis, Des Moines, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Washington D.C., and other urban environments do not meet this description. Therefore, mandating audible signals at all intersections is a pointless waste of taxpayer money. Furthermore, the additional noise created by the locator tones can distract or disorient blind pedestrians. The greatest asset of a blind traveler is her/his mental awareness and concentration. Disruption of this concentration puts a blind traveler in danger. Thus, audible traffic signals are often not only superfluous, but hazardous. It seems incongruous to me that a government entity established to promote public safety would mandate equipment that would endanger those it presumes to keep safe. Similarly, detectable warnings on slopes greater than 1-15 are not only superfluous, but also dangerous. They can cause pedestrians, particularly those wearing heels, to stumble toward traffic. In conclusion, I am opposed to the proposed regulations on two accounts. I am opposed to them as a blind traveler whose freedom of movement and personal safety would be endangered by their enactment. I am also opposed to the regulations as a tax payer who does not want to see the federal government waste large amounts of taxpayer money on an endeavor that harms the citizens it was trying to protect.
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