October 18, 2002
To Whom It May Concern:
I understand that the US Access Board is presently accepting comments regarding
Accessible Pedestrian Signals and tactile warnings. Please ensure that all
pedestrians are afforded similar safety and accessibility by mandating
installation of these important features. In brief, I feel that people who are
blind or visually impaired must have the same rights and advantages as those who
are fully sighted.
First, people who are blind or Visually impaired, must have the same access
to information and safety as sighted pedestrians. Sighted people have
visual walk and traffic lights to assist them in judging when it is safe to
cross the street, even though they are able to see the approach of vehicles.
Complex traffic signals, complicated intersections, rounded corners and wide
streets, increased environmental noise, much quieter vehicles and variable
levels of skills all make crossing streets more difficult for most blind
pedestrians. Accessible or audible signals would assist in judging when the walk
light is activated instead of having to guess when it is safe to cross by
listening to traffic flow.
I do agree that a blind person with good orientation and mobility skills can
frequently cross without using accessible signals, but we must recognize that
most blind people do not have superb skills, nor are intersections simple.
My second issue is that of use of tactile warnings. Curbs, curb cuts, wheelchair
ramps, edges of platforms and frequently steps tend to be highlighted by
contrasting colors to catch the attention of sighted pedestrians. I feel that
people who are blind should have the same advantages. As I mentioned previously,
people with excellent mobility skills may not need physical warnings of danger,
but if the person isn't paying close attention or if he/she does not have superb
accidents, resulting in injury or death, could result.
Various systems of tactile warnings have been developed and I've experienced
some of them. Some use raised or three-dimensional figures, while others have
lines etched or engraved into the surface. I strongly recommend use of the
system known as truncated domes, because they are more easily
Thank you for considering my comments regarding this issue.
Volunteer Services Center Specialist
Bureau of Braille and Talking Book Library Services