October 14, 2002
Dear Access Board,
As a blind person and taxpayer, I would like to make comment on the proposed
audible traffic signals and detectable warnings.
I have been legally blind since my teen years and recently lost the rest of the
sight that I had to glaucoma. Since going totally blind I have had some trouble
with crossing certain streets and am totally aware that the answer to my problem
is to get additional mobility training.
I know more than a few totally blind and legally blind people with very little
visable sight that travel independently. They got there by receiving proper
Earlier this year, he in Albany, NY, there were several audible traffic signals
installed in the downtown area Most of the blind people that I know that work in
that area have always traveled independently and continue to, although some of
them now complain that itís harder to concentrate on traffic while the audible
signals are going off. Those who used sighted guide to cross in the area,
including myself, should continue to because without proper training, knowing
when to cross the street has very little to do with getting to the other side.
It takes careful listening skills and the ability to line up with the sidewalk
and walk straight to the other side.
I will have to find the time soon to work on the types streets that I wonít take
on right now independently.
There has also been a notion that these audible signals give people a
directional cue. This is as false as the notion that blind people have better
hearing than other people The sound that comes from these audible signals,
especially in a downtown area with taller buildings seem to come from all
around. This is probably due to the sound bouncing off the buildings.
As far as detectable warnings, I feel as long as I use proper cane technique,
listen ahead and the drop-off of the wheelchair ramp is significant, not great,
but as 99% of current wheelchair ramps are, I donít feel that there is a need
for these to be installed either.
If there was a significant number of blind people walking off into the street or
crossing when they didnít have the light and being killed in a greater ratio
than blind to sighted people I might feel differently about it. But there isnít
any greater number of blind people being killed in traffic incidents as opposed
to our sighted counterparts.
Thank you for considering my comments.