October 28, 2002
My name is Denise Karuth. I am a blind person who relies on a power wheelchair
and a very elderly and not-too-attentive dog guide for mobility. Despite these
limitations, I travel independently on public transit whenever I can and on
accessible intercity buses, train, and paratransit services.
Audible pedestrian signals, especially those with locator beacons which I have
used in Germany, Sweden, and Iceland, give blind persons the information they
need to find the location of the crosswalk, the "push for walk" button, and the
knowledge that the walk light has switched on and off. Beacon signals that tick
like a loud pendulum do this without being a nuisance to others because the
beacon is generated in the pole that is in close proximity to where the blind or
visually impaired person is standing once they have used the beacon to find the
A survey done by the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind several year ago
recorded 27 instances of blind persons falling into the deep pit of Boston's
subway system where there is an uncovered third rail which provides power to the
train cars. Years after this survey, the Chair of the Rehabilitation Council of
the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind was killed in one such fall.
Some in the Blind community will say that these accommodations are unnecessary.
Please allow those of us who need them to determine this for ourselves. Serious
injury and death to some of our community are too high a price to pay for the
political ideology of others.
Thank you for your time and careful attention to this matter.