Blind person advocates say more audible crosswalks needed

Americas, August 11 2011

Bakersfield, Calif. : Anthony Rodriguez can’t see the crosswalk button. He can only feel it, and at certain intersections, he can hear it. Rodriguez is a blind person.

But Rodriguez doesn’t let his lack of an eyesight stop him from walking around town, because walking is something he has to do everyday.

On Wednesday, Rodriguez was visiting the Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and he has to walk to get there.

The intersection of Baker and Monterey streets has an audible crosswalk, and it is extremely helpful for blind people.

“In case you’re not paying attention; they’re just really helpful for blind people,” said Rodriguez.

Brandy Morgan, an advocate for blind and visually impaired people said, “the audible signals allow us to tell which traffic direction is going.”

There are 11 of these types of intersections in Bakersfield, but for some, that is not enough.

“Not even close, not even close,” said Morgan.

Eyewitness News asked the City, why is there not more.

“It’s about three to five thousand more per intersection for that type of button and not including staff time to go out and do the retrofit,” traffic engineer Ryan Starbuck said. “We try to budget so we can at least cover two to three, sometimes even four per year.”

But Morgan disagrees. “They have told us in the past, we’ll install one, we don’t have very much money, but we never, I mean it took me six months to get one installed at Chester and Columbus,” she said.

So for now, the intersection nears the Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired will continue to be a piece of cake for Rodriguez, but he says, “there are some bigger streets than this.”

He says that the beeping noise coming from the crosswalk will be the only way to keep him safe.


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