Hope for Blind Pedestrians

By Brian McCallen, LightHouse guest blogger and volunteer

Good news for those blind and visually impaired folk out there who just love to stroll the streets.

President Obama recently signed the all-new Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act last month. The act calls for the U.S. Department of Transportation to set some new rules, requiring future models of hybrid or electric vehicles to come with alert sounds. The alert sounds would let blind pedestrians, crossing those very busy intersections, know when cars are coming their way.

The act also requires that these rules have to be finalized in just three years.

I spoke with Katherine Zachary, Manager of Corporate Communications for Nissan, and she said that the car company has already followed the new act. Zachary mentioned that after focus groups with blind pedestrians and organizations (e.g., The National Federation of the Blind), Nissan has already added new audible alert tones, forward and reverse, for its new hybrid vehicle called the LEAF.

I believe that the new act is helpful for a visually impaired pedestrian like myself who relies more on sound than sight when crossing the streets. I also admit that I sometimes daydream and think about last night’s American Idol auditions on TV while walking. So the new alert tones would wake me up and keep me more focused on my immediate surroundings.