|Betsy A. Zaborowski, Psy.D.||August 26, 2002|
I write this letter to urge the Access Board to exercise restraint with respect to detectable warnings and "accessible" pedestrian signals. These technologies are not universally accepted within the blind community. Automated teller machines with voice prompts, raised letters on hotel room doors, and tactile and audible information in elevators enjoy far more unanimous support.
The over-all accessibility movement will suffer a significant setback if the Access Board requires the ubiquitous installation of "accessible" pedestrian signals and detectable warnings. These technologies are neither essential for the blind to travel safely and efficiently nor to improve access to public rights of way. We are already crossing streets and negotiating dangerous areas without them. In fact, we argue that undue reliance on either technology will pose a definite hazard for blind pedestrians because many will perceive these technologies as diminishing the need for proper travel training and alertness to the surrounding environment.
The cost to society of installing detectable warnings and "accessible" pedestrian signals at every intersection is simply too high--especially, when one realizes that they do not improve accessibility. Perhaps they may address some issues of safety, but The public rights of way are already accessible to the blind. Please do not mix issues of safety with accessibility. You are an Access Board--not the National Highway Safety Administration, and as such, your attention should be focused solely on accessibility.
Betsy A. Zaborowski, Psy.D.
Director of Special Programs
National Federation of the Blind
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