October 25, 2002
I am writing to share with you my concerns about the installation of audible
traffic signals (ATS) and detectable warnings at all intersections.
Concerning ATS, I am concerned that:
They will tell blind people that it is safe to cross streets when it is not. The
sound from the ATS may drown out other audible cues (such as the sound made by
oncoming cars) that will tell blind people when it is really safe to cross. The
crossing information may be ambiguous. If the same tone is used for all
crossings, it will be unclear which way it is safe to cross. Verbal information
given before the crossing signal will not help if the blind person does not
speak English or if (as has happened to me) the blind person gets disoriented
and doesn't know which intersection he is at. The installation will weaken the
white cane law. The general public and local law enforcement may think that ATS
has solved the problem of blind travelers and street crossing. Thus, they may
see the white cane law (and the white cane itself) as archaic and no longer
In reference to truncated domes, I am concerned that:
Truncated domes and other tactile warnings may accumulate snow and ice thus
making street crossings more, not less, hazardous than they were before. Tactile
warning may cause telescoping canes to retract, thus effectively shortening
these canes. The effect is to give the blind traveler less information than he
usually has when he needs it the most.
In short, ATS and tactile warning devises will cost a lot of money, not solve
the problems of blind travelers, and pose new hazards of their own. The money
used to install these signals and warnings would be better spent teaching travel
skills to blind people and for putting in sidewalks and street crossings where
they are needed.
Thank you in advance for accepting my comments.
Mr. Shawn Jacobson