Bruce B. Woodward
|October 11, 2002|
I preface my comments by stating that I feel it is wrong to create standards using a 'lowest common denominator' (LCD) concept as a starting point. In this case the 'LCD' might be the blind person who has absolutely no travel skills and, unfortunately, lives an extremely sheltered life and seldom ventures beyond his front doorstep. To use the 'LCD' concept does a tremendous disservice to the many blind people who do possess higher levels of competence. When you consider what I've just said I hope you grasp the damaging impact that occurs when developing standards based on the 'LCD' concept. So where do we start? Let's be bold and plan for a world where resources are used to train the blind and disabled to travel, not completely without safety considerations, but certainly much less than those contemplated in the draft proposal.
Now, I address the nitty-gritty part of the proposals. These are my personal beliefs and I consider them reasonable.
1) I like audible traffic signals, but only those that emit a buzzing sound. Please, no funky bird calls. I believe that sensible judgment should be used to determine where they are necessary. To blanket the country with an ATS at every single traffic light is a beautiful example of overkill. There is no way that that should be considered a reasonable response to the issue. I truly believe that sensible choices can be made; perhaps even with the help of blind persons with 'average' travel skills.
2) I do not believe vibrating locators are necessary. I believe there is a strong risk that they would increase the risk of confusion on the pedestrian's part.
3) Detectable warnings (sidewalk domes, etc) should be used only when the
slope is less than 1:15 (1 inch drop or less every 15 inches). A cane traveler
most likely will have adequate skill to be able detect intersections with slopes
steeper than this and certainly should find curbs. This reminds us of a key
issue here and that is, that it is far more important to devote resources
towards developing good travel skills instead of designing an environment for
the protection of the person of absolutely no skill.
These are my comments and I ask that they be considered thoughtfully and with consideration of the fact that it is an impossible task to design a world with absolutely no risk at all.
Bruce B. Woodward
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