|October 17, 2002|
I would like to add support to the concept that not all blind people
possess the necessary skills to be able to safely cross traffic light controlled
intersections. As a university-trained Orientation and Mobility Specialist, I
have taught cane training for 28 years. Times have changed since the standard
stoplight was installed many years ago. Left-hand lane turners,
right-turn-on-red, computer actuated timing signals, pedestrian buttons, etc.
have all conspired to make safe, predictable, and efficient crossings at many
intersections next to impossible for most blind travelers. Indeed, there are certain intersections that I will NEVER give approval or recommendation that a blind person cross! All things told, it is simply too dangerous.
Also know that NO organization for the blind has the right to speak for the blind community in general. There are simply too many opinions and perspectives to assume that if one particular blind consumer group expresses an opinion, it is an accurate representation of the blind population in general.
While I do not believe that ALL new intersections need to have APS's, it is my feeling that anything more than a standard cross-style intersection could benefit from having the audible signals. If there are those who are skilled enough to not need them, fine, let them cross on their own hook, but the vast majority of visually impaired people could benefit from the audible signals.
As a matter of interest, you should note that, statistically, the vast majority of blind people are senior citizens, and, as such, are neither as active or aggressive as some groups who may want to convince you that APS's are not needed.
Were you to poll ALL blind people, as well as ALL professionals who teach Orientation and Mobility for a living, I suspect you would find solid support for the implementation of APS's. Sound reasoning as to how times have changed should also yield the conclusion that APS's are a valuable asset to the community as a whole.
I encourage you to include consideration for APS's at all new intersections.
Orientation and Mobility Specialist for the Blind
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