At the moment I am reviewing a draft OHS compliance code for amenities at the workplace. I am also working a morning shift for a communications company from 3am each morning. I have a blind father. My office faces a truck route.
These elements of my life combined when I received a wire story this morning about an initiative to increase the level of pedestrian safety. I found the National Federation for the Blind media release that the article was based on and decided that the request for “a two-year study to determine the best means to provide the blind and other pedestrians with information about the location, motion, speed, and direction of vehicles” fairly reasonable and I look forward to the findings in 2010.
It will be interesting to watch the response that this US Bill will generate from those who see our world changing to accommodate minorities, those driving enthusiasts that give pedestrians and bikes little attention anyway, those advocates who say that pedestrian lights don’t remain on long enough and the right-wing critics of political correctness who are usually fully-sighted ( in the vision sense at least) and able-bodied.
Some of the issues the Secretary of Transportation should consider are:
- How did blind people in China cope when that country depended almost 100% on bicycle transport? Bikes aren’t silent.
- Aren’t cars being designed now specifically to minimise the damage to a pedestrian from a front-on collision? Let’s not go near the issue of bull-bars and car protection bars.
- I know that the blind want to be independent but if I am elderly or disabled, I would not reject assistance in crossing a road. Don’t pedestrians offer assistance any more?
- All age groups should be considered in the study as able-bodied pedestrians may be distracted or otherwise inattentive.
Basic ergonomic theory is that we don’t try to fit the person to the work environment. Perhaps urban planners and car manufacturers should consider how they can change what they do to ensure that the vehicles are compatible with pedestrian zones and interaction. I for one would ride my bicycle more if the streets were more friendly and drivers more aware.
How do workplace amenities and morning shift affect my perspective? I am not sure that the draft compliance code accommodates disabled workers so I will need to review the document through my father’s eyes, ineffective as they are.
Toilets in many office buildings have Braille labels below the male and female toilet signs. I often wonder how a blind person locates a 6cm Braille label on a 18 square metre wall when they are bursting for a pee and are new to that area. And from experience most people develop blindness after middle age and have little chance of learning Braille so just how many blind people are we serving by Braille toilet signs?