October 28, 2002
I'm hoping it's not too late to add my voice to this interesting controversy.
Many minds have given this topic more thought than I', I'm sure, but here's my
thoughts. 1. Many blind people get very good training teaching them how to
navigate busy streets. It only takes one small mistake for an accident to
happen. Perhaps someone's mind wonders, or maybe not enough sleep was had the
night before. Even the best trained traveler can slip up in an unfortunately
timed street crossing. Sighted people have the convenience of glancing at a
light to see if it is safe to go. I feel we blind should have that same
convenience. I realize audible signage is expensive, but it would be nice to
have it where financially possible. 2. Some people argue that accessible signage
adds unwanted noise to th environment. Although this is true of signs where
there is no on/off feature, many audible signs now have the ability to be
activated upon the user's request. If someone wants the signal then they can
push a button. If someone else doesn't want the signal, they can chose not to
activate it. I hope this fact will nullify somewhat environmental noise
concerns. 3. I feel audible signage can foster independence in ways not often
talked about. Street signs can be made to say what street has the signal. If I
move to a city whose layout I don't know, a talking sign would be able to alert
me to what street I'm on.
If I'm in a hotel and get directions to a destination, but lose count of how
many blocks I've gone, the audible reminder of a street sign announcing my
location could be the memory jog I need. Why should I have to rely on the
kindness of pedestrians for assistance traveling? I could be the best crosser of
streets in the world, but that won't help me know where I am.
I'm not going to ramble on about how accessible signals could give the
elderly or children gaining their independence an extra cue for knowing when
it's safe to cross the street. I'm sure others have made those points already.
Thanks for your time, and for listening to my opinion.
Technical Support Engineer