I’m writing this Blog for two reasons.  First, some folks said I should share when I do interesting stuff.  Hopefully you think that is what this is. The better reason is that you may want to seek such an event where you live.

Our county health department person in charge of their active living program created this event to which I and others were invited to participate.   

The purpose was to expose city and county officials to the everyday, real-world experiences that people with various physical and mental different challenges as they negotiate our downtown streets and sidewalks.

It turned out that I was the only blind or low-vision person invited.  There were 2 people with physical disabilities using their own equipment–one a manual wheelchair and the other a power wheelchair.  I wished folks dealing with other challenges like hearing loss or who walked with difficulty could have been there too.

There was a bicycle/pedestrian advocate, one person who worked with a group that promoted independent living and another from a group helping those with brain injuries. The rest of the group came from city and county government.  They included one city council person, our mayor, the assistant city administrator, the fellow from public works responsible for sidewalks and, of course, the county public health person.

What made it all work was the consultant who led the effort.  They were an expert on such topics as the ADA, signal devices and what made sidewalks, driveways, intersections, traffic signals and curb cuts safe to use.

We left from the downtown library and walked 8 blocks out one route and back another.  During the walk, folks tried on the low-vision simulator glasses and the spare wheelchairs brought for that purpose.  I skipped both of them. <grin> :)

I had the chance to point out to the city folks how helpful contrast is to those with low-vision.  I was surprised to learn that none of them knew that. They asked if the “truncated cones” in the sidewalk by each curb cut helped.  I said that for me, they mostly helped because they contrasted with the concrete so I aim for them.

Some of us gave them an earful about the curb cuts that dumped you out into the intersection instead of directly into the crosswalk.  The audible crosswalk features also generated much discussion.

I left feeling that some good might come from this.  If it does, many people will benefit. Maybe this is something to consider where you live?


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