New Signs Downtown for the Blind - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

10/18/02

New Signs Downtown for the Blind

Five intersections in the city of Lubbock are equipped with state of the art crosswalk signs that help the blind cross the street. And now the citizens traffic commission has a plan to install even more across the city.

Audible pedestrian signals that are making it so practically anybody can cross some of Lubbock's busiest intersections, even with their eyes closed. It is a lesson we have all been taught in school- look both ways before crossing the street. But for Jim Gatteys, that is impossible because he is blind. "This one says, 'cross Broadway from University,' and so you just press this thing," said Jim as he showed NewsChannel 11 how the signals work.

Jim basically puts his life in the hands of crosswalk devices, "well, you do. What's the alternative otherwise? I don't have anything," Jim said.

"There are a lot of blind people living in Lubbock and I think it can be real beneficial to have these signals just because of the fact, here, a lot of blind people are out traveling the streets," Jim said.

Because the blind rely on their ears to get around safely, the city installed five Lubbock intersections with audible pedestrian signals. Signals that speak and beep. Jim says it has helped him get around.

Two years ago, the blind community asked the city's traffic engineer department to install the signals. The city picked out the equipment and installed them last winter. "We felt it was best because it gives the most information we can give to the blind using these units," said Intelligent Transportation Systems Manager Robert Cook.

The city plans to add more signals. In two months, they will install one at 4th Street and Frankford. The city is also looking into other intersections like Avenue Q and 50th Street, Indiana and 4th Street, University and 15th Street, and Slide Road and 69th Street. "We need to promote independence and have the blind walking around places. I think these cross walk signals would really help people feel a little bit more secure going out," said Jim.

Cook says it costs $8,000 per intersection to install state of the art signals and have plans to continue if the funding is there.

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