|August 30, 2002|
When it comes to blind people like myself, it is often the case that accessibility and safety are inappropriately related to each other. Such is the case with respect to detectable warnings and “accessible” pedestrian signals-—both issues of some controversy. The Access Board is no less guilty of inappropriately linking accessibility and safety than members of society who, believing that the blind are by nature incompetent and unsafe, dream up technologies like this to bedevil our lives and confuse public policy officials.
You know, accessible pedestrian signals and detectable warnings—-the bumpy domes—-are not necessarily all good--nor are they all bad. It depends on the intersection or the hazard about which a nonvisual warning is required. In this country there are literally thousands of signalized intersections which are safely crossed by thousands of blind people. There are also many hazardous areas which blind people have no problem avoiding. All of this is to say that I do not support the notion that specialized technologies--designed specifically for the blind—-must be installed at every corner, every hazardous spot, and every traffic light. I trust that the Access Board will exercise some amount of rational thought when deciding whether to implement a policy requiring bumpy domes and beeping traffic signals at every intersection. I and many other blind people certainly do not want them, we don’t need them, and society can’t afford the cost of paying for them. Some people, using the “pity” and “safety” argument, declare unreasonably that these devices are necessary to maintain the safety of blind pedestrians in the community. Really? Then why isn’t this issue being considered by those governmental agencies which deal with matters of safety? Aren’t you the Access Board, and aren’t you supposed to focus your attention on things that would provide greater accessibility to people with disabilities?
Please think this through rationally. Do not pass a rule requiring accessible pedestrian signals and detectable warnings everywhere.
Gerald Jeandron, Esquire
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