Jeffrey E. Frye
|September 21, 2002|
I want to express my wholehearted support for the report of the Pedestrian Rights of Way Access Committee, and am urging all my friends to express their views to you before October 28, 2001.I do not support audible pedestrian signals on every intersection - particularly not in rural areas, small towns, or areas which are lightly trafficked, for any of us blind people who is able to hear is able to listen to the sounds of traffic, and to thus tell when it is safe to cross streets. However, in such congested areas as my home city of Overland Park, Kansas, drivers are constantly running red lights, and making right turns on red; and anyone who believes that a white cane, or the ears, are able to distinguish such illegal or unsafe driving simply has his/her head in the sand. I support detectible warnings for much the same reasoning. Although I now hardly have the pleasure of using a train as when I traveled from Lincoln, Nebraska, to Baltimore, Maryland, I hear every so often of blind people falling into pits when walking on railroad platforms. Granted, I believe part of this is their own fault: The canes they use are too short, extending from the ground to the sternum, rather than to the nose, which is the length of my own cane; it is high time for orientation-and-mobility specialists to change their specifications for the good of all blind people, which some are doing. But I have concluded that although it usually gives adequate warning, a white cane cannot always prevent someone from falling into a pit five or six feet deep, sometimes to a person's death. So while I do support detectible warnings, I also believe it would be very commendable for you at the Access Board to work on O&M instructors, and the institutions where they are trained, to see that all users of white canes use canes extending to the nose. I also believe it is high time for you at the Access Board to realize that in these days, we the blind are underemphasized, because those in wheelchairs receive a highly disproportionate amount of attention. For example, around where I and many others live, sidewalks and curbs are no longer as present as they used to be, thus making independent travel very difficult, and at times just not possible. In other words, you people should know that we the blind are equals, and first-class citizens.
Jeffrey E. Frye
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