National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota

Resolution A06-01

 

WHEREAS, Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS's) are electronic devices that alert a blind pedestrian in an audible or vibro-tactile manner when the traffic signal has changed; and

 

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind has repeatedly and clearly stated its position that APS's are for the most part unnecessary and should only be installed at intersections where the sound of traffic flow and other methods used by blind persons to cross streets safely and independently cannot be adequately utilized; and

 

WHEREAS, it has come to our attention that a small group is promoting the installation of APS's near a hotel in downtown Minneapolis because of an upcoming convention which will bring a number of blind  persons to the city of Minneapolis for less than one week; and

 

WHEREAS, the push for APS in this case appears to stem not from concern over particularly difficult intersections, but rather from a desire to show Minneapolis as a "model city" for accessibility; and

 

WHEREAS, installation of APS at intersections where they are not needed would not show Minneapolis as a "model city" for accessibility but rather have the opposite effect of giving residents and visitors the false impression that Minneapolis is a city generally unfriendly to pedestrians and that blind people cannot travel safely throughout the city; and

 

WHEREAS, three conventions of the National Federation of the Blind have taken place in Minneapolis in recent memory, bringing large numbers of blind people to our state, without the need for changes to the environment; and

 

WHEREAS, Minnesota is home to Blindness: Learning in New Dimensions (BLIND), Incorporated, a nationally recognized adjustment-to-blindness center known for its excellent results in helping blind people to travel independently in any environment; and

 

WHEREAS, the installation of APS's in places where they are not needed would be detrimental to the work of this well-respected training center, hindering learning for students of cane travel, who must above all come to understand that the traffic sounds are the most reliable indicator of when it is safe to walk; and

 

WHEREAS, additionally, deployment of these costly APS at unnecessary locations would be a waste of federal, state, and local tax dollars; and

 

WHEREAS, a number of municipalities in the United States have developed systems for prioritizing requests for APS according to certain criteria, such as intersection configuration, traffic flow, vehicle speed, etc.; now therefore

 

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota in Convention assembled this first day of October, 2006, in the city of New Ulm, Minnesota, that this organization express to all concerned that accessible pedestrian signals should not be installed anywhere in Minnesota except at those intersections where other means of making the intersection usable are not effective, and then only based on well-thought-out criteria, arrived at in consultation with the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization work with relevant government officials and with individuals to help them identify viable alternatives to accessible pedestrian signals.