|August 19, 2002|
Dear Board Members:
I am writing to comment on the perceived need for detectable warnings at street intersections. Blind people donít need them. Hereís why.
All intersections, even those with absolutely flat curbs are easily detectable with the use of the white cane or guide dog. This is so because concrete feels different than pavement. We can both feel and hear the difference, and our dogs stop at the change of texture. Thus, detectable warnings are superfluous.
You may say that these warnings make travel more safe and accessible to the blind. If a person is afraid to venture out into the world, no amount of truncated domes, chirping traffic lights or anything else will make such a person more willing to be out and about in the world. So again, these things are superfluous.
If an idea is a good one, it should be of use to everybody and should have no inherent disadvantages. Truncated domes have the distinct disadvantage that they become slippery even in a light rain, more slippery than the sidewalk. I learned this first hand when I fell in Charlotte NC, a place where these truncated domes are everywhere. The fall was not serious, but it probably wouldnít have happened on just a sidewalk.
Let me turn now to the question of audible traffic signals. They are not needed at every intersection either because we have to judge when it is safe to cross the street by means of the traffic flow. When cars are moving parallel to us, it is safe to cross. When cars are passing in front of us, then it is not.
We need to give attention to these patterns, and we canít afford to be distracted by a traffic light chirping or coo-cooing while we try to listen. Besides, people donít always obey the lights. Audible signals might give a distracted pedestrian a false sense of security.
You may have received similar correspondences to mine. That is because my experiences are similar to those of thousands of blind people all over the country, so they are worth considering.
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