Blind people still waiting for audible traffic signals
Equal access is a concept familiar to most everyone since the advent of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Most of the time you might think of a person in a wheelchair being able to get into a building.
Here is another way I would like you to look at it. Did you realize that blind and visually impaired people don’t have equal access to traffic signals? That is because most of them aren’t audible. Blind people are taught to use the parallel traffic (that going the same direction they are) to cross. This gets tricky at some intersections. Consider those where the side street has very little traffic. So, there’s no sound of traffic at the moment. Does that mean the traffic light is with you or is there a lull in the traffic?
Another type of intersection is the one with a left-turn lane. A sighted pedestrian gets a “walk” sign when it is safe to cross. Blind people don’t get that information unless the signal is audible.
Supposedly, the state is making all signals audible, but when? We requested three audible signals a year ago and we’re still waiting. Unfortunately, this situation is not unique. So the question is: When will all blind people have equal access to all traffic signals?
Member, WNY American Council of the Blind
President, WNY ACB