October 28, 2002
My name is Roger Petersen and I live at [ ... ].
I am totally blind since birth and serve as Chairman of the Information
Access Committee of the American Council of the Blind. I am also
Vice-Chair of the Santa Clara County Commission for People with
Disabilities and the City of Mountain View Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory
I am strongly in favor of accessible intersections as defined by the draft
guidelines. As a blind pedestrian, I have learned the work-arounds that
some people mention as ways of doing without audible ped signals. But I
can tell you that it is much less stressful to cross intersections where
they exist. It has been the practice to provide walk signals for sighted
pedestrians, even though they are better equipped than blind pedestrians to
judge the traffic and watch the traffic signals. It seems only logical
that the same information should be available to blind pedestrians. In
many cases, there is turning traffic that is competing with pedestrians for
the crosswalk. In such situations, it is very helpful to know the exact
moment when the walk interval begins. Otherwise, while I am figuring out
that the ped interval has begun, the traffic will start turning in front of me.
In the area where I live, there are many of the old "cuckoo" type audible
signals. I have heard a lot about how these are not preferred. But I find
even those signals very helpful. Often the one on the corner to which I am
crossing gives some guidance in crossing. After all, the crosswalk lines
are also information that is provided to sighted pedestrians and to which I
believe I have the right. I would encourage the board to continue to
concern itself with best practices wayfinding information in crossing
intersections, such as tactile wayfinding or audible beacons.
I hope you find these observations helpful. I would be glad to answer
further questions you may have.
Roger D. Petersen