In 2000, the American Council of the Blind published our "Pedestrian Safety Handbook.," That landmark publication represented our effort to gather together the most current information then available about pedestrian safety solutions for people who were blind and visually impaired. Our goal was to provide up-to-date information that our members could use to advocate for safer streets and intersections in their communities. Much has changed over the intervening years, especially with the advent of hybrid and quiet vehicles and the proliferation of traffic calming methodologies in virtually every community throughout the country.
As a professional working in the area of ADA compliance, I know, first-hand, that we will see significant positive change for the better on our streets and in our intersections only by advocating for our own civil right to travel through the built environment safely.
In July 2005, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), issued a letter (Appendix A) in response to a complaint filed against the State of Maryland, by the American Council of the Blind of Maryland for failing to install accessible pedestrian signals (APS) at certain intersections - in which it stated unequivocally that "...the lack of accessibility for blind pedestrians is a violation of the ADA." This letter should serve as a clear signal to all blind and visually impaired people that we have the law on our side, and that it is long past time for us to pressure officials in transportation departments on the local, county and state levels to address our accessibility concerns as they have heretofore addressed those of persons who use wheelchairs. Installation of APS should have the same priority as installation of curb ramps. This third edition of ACB's "Pedestrian Safety Handbook" will give everyone reading it the tools necessary to raise the awareness of such officials and to help make those advocacy efforts successful.
Mitch Pomerantz, President
American Council of the Blind