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SFMTA

Participants Get the Feel of Streets of San Francisco at SFMTA Sponsored Workshop

Participants Get the Feel of Streets of San Francisco at SFMTA Sponsored Workshop

On April 8, LightHouse, in partnership with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), held a second Tactile Intersections Workshop to promote the citywide campaign Safety—It’s Your Turn. The campaign is designed to encourage safer driving around left turns. Individuals who are blind or have low vision who live or work in San Francisco joined LightHouse Orientation & Mobility (O&M) Specialist Sarah McIntyre and Senior Accessible Media and Braille Specialist Frank Welte for the workshop where they received an overview of interpreting and comprehending tactile diagrams of various intersections found throughout San Francisco.

Upon registering for the workshop, participants were sent a packet of the tactile intersection diagrams (designed and produced in-house by LightHouse’s Media and Accessible Design Lab) to follow along from home with Sarah and Frank as they guided students through understanding what the different tactile traffic lines and symbols on each diagram represented. The two LightHouse employees made a dynamic duo as they offered valuable insights, as Sarah has the many years’ experience teaching O&M and working alongside blind and low vision people, while Frank has the first-hand knowledge and experiences of traveling in cities all over the country as a blind man.

“Understanding how various common types of intersections are configured and how traffic flows through them makes it possible for a blind traveler to cross streets efficiently and safely in a wide variety of situations.” Frank said. “The intersection diagrams produced by the LightHouse make it much easier for Orientation & Mobility students to acquire this important knowledge.”

I had the opportunity to participate in last week’s workshop. As a person who has low vision and as a non-driver, I found the workshop incredibly informative. The geography of San Francisco is unique with its many neighborhoods and busy city streets that spread out across climbing hills and flat shorelines, but while it makes for a beautiful landscape, it also makes for many complicated travel routes, both in car and on foot. Exploring the different types of intersections and gaining an understanding of what all the painted lines along the city streets actually mean helped me form and understand my own mental map of the city and specifically different busy traffic areas within my own neighborhood.

“I’ve used the intersection diagrams in two different ways,” Sarah McIntyre explained. First, with students who started learning intersection analysis and street crossing skills in person, I’ve used the intersection diagrams to reinforce and strengthen what they had begun learning.

“Second, with students who are learning spatial awareness skills and have progressed to the point of examining TMAPs [tactile street maps produced using an automated tool], I’ve used the intersection diagrams to discuss the different types of intersections found along their routes.”

Building confidence, independence and knowledge for those in the blind and low vision community is at the heart of every service LightHouse provides. It is a very empowering experience to partner with local agencies like SFMTA to help increase safety and awareness, not just for San Francisco’s blind and low vision residents and commuters, but for everyone who travels the streets of our beloved San Francisco.

If you missed out on the workshop but are interested in obtaining a copy of the Tactile Intersections Diagrams packet, you can do so by ordering the diagrams from the LightHouse store, Adaptations, by calling (888) 400-8933 or finding LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired under specialized help in the Be My Eyes app. For more information about the fantastic strides the city is making to improve traffic safety visit SFMTA’s Safety—It’s Your Turn page on their website. For any inquiries about Orientation & Mobility lessons and services provided by LightHouse, contact info@lighthouse-sf.org or Esmerelda Soto at 415-694-7323.

Get In-Touch with MAD Lab’s Tactile Intersection Crossings and Attend a Workshop, April 8

Get In-Touch with MAD Lab’s Tactile Intersection Crossings and Attend a Workshop, April 8

By Kathy Abrahamson, Director of Rehabilitation Services
 
We’re pleased to announce that we received a Safety – It’s Your Turn community grant from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) to support safer left turn education and encourage walking and biking, especially for San Franciscans who are blind or have low vision. Part of the outreach for the Safety – It’s Your Turn education campaign is to raise awareness of the new “left turn calming” intersections designed to slow drivers as they make left turns on the streets of San Francisco. These newly designed intersections use small speed bumps and vertical barriers to encourage drivers to slow down, square their left turns, and watch for people in the crosswalk. Currently there are seven such intersections in San Francisco. 
 
For this project, LightHouse Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Sarah McIntyre and the talented designers of Lighthouse’s Media and Accessible Design Lab have developed a tactile diagram of this new “left turn traffic calming intersection as well as a book of 13 detailed tactile diagrams of intersection types that may be found around San Francisco’s streets. Both of these tactile references are being made available to blind and low vision San Franciscans at no charge to the first sixty who contact the LightHouse with interest of obtaining a copy, and, participating in an informational workshop about these resources. 
 
The Tactile Diagram Workshop will be held Thursday, April 8 from 3:00 – 4:30 pm via Zoom. Invitation is open to those San Franciscans who have received a book of diagrams. The workshop will provide an overview of the intersections and basic information in how to use and read the diagrams. Each book provides information in both braille and large print. An electronic version of the text information from the book can be provided upon request. San Francisco Unified Orientation and Mobility Specialists are encouraged to ensure a copy for their students for supplemental training and support.
 
The goal of the project is to provide overall knowledge of the availability of tactile maps so that travelers who are blind or have low vision have the best understanding of their city streets and we graciously thank the SFMTA for the ability to produce the books for our San Francisco blind and low vision community. If you are a San Franciscan who is blind or has low vision and would like one copy of the LightHouse Tactile Intersection Book, along with the supplemental traffic calming intersection diagram, please email Briana Kusuma, LightHouse Program Associate at BKusuma@lighthouse-sf.org. Briana will send one copy (per person/household) via Free Matter for the Blind and sign you up for participation in the April 8 Tactile Diagram Workshop. For those persons who would like to purchase a copy of this book, please visit Adaptations, the LightHouse Store online, email adaptations@lighthouse-sf.org or call 1-888-400-8933.
 
For more information about the Safety – It’s Your Turn campaign visit VisionZeroSF.org/leftturns.

It’s Your Turn: LightHouse partners with SFTMA to make San Francisco a Safer City for All

It’s Your Turn: LightHouse partners with SFTMA to make San Francisco a Safer City for All

Making your way through busy city streets can be difficult for any pedestrian, but let’s face it, even more so for someone who is blind or has low vision. Between all the one-ways, left turns, U-turns, and unforeseen construction detours, at times it can feel as though your safety is being challenged by the ongoing street traffic. The city of San Francisco is working to keep all its residents and visitors safe, whether you are in the car, on public transportation, or on foot.

With that in mind, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) has launched its newest campaign entitled, “Safety—It’s Your Turn.” It is partnering with LightHouse to create a safer and more accessible city environment for all San Francisco travelers.

The shocking truth about traffic fatalities in the city is this: 40% of all fatal San Francisco traffic accidents in 2019 involved drivers making left turns. Drivers need a clearer indication of when pedestrians are crossing with enough time to stop. These tragedies are completely avoidable with a few seemingly minor changes to the way the city conducts traffic. SFMTA has centered the focus of their safety campaign specifically on left turns. For starters, the city has installed trial left turn guide bumps as a “calming” strategy. Similar to speed bumps, these left turn guide bumps are meant to incentivize drivers to slow down. This will allow the driver enough time to make complete left turns at the intersection, where the crosswalk and crossing pedestrians are in plain view. The goal of the campaign is not only to encourage better driving behaviors and increase the safety on the street for everyone, but hopefully to instill a sense of security and increase the number of cyclists, runners, and walkers in San Francisco.

Although we are always taught via general traffic rules that the “pedestrian has the right of way,” that unfortunately does not necessarily ensure their safety. It is our responsibility as pedestrians, both sighted and blind, to educate ourselves, be aware of our surroundings as much as possible, and to err on the side of caution when it comes to travel. As part of the Safety—It’s Your Turn campaign, SFMTA has partnered with LightHouse and a number of other community-based organizations throughout the city to provide more education and information regarding left turn safety and traffic protocol.

At LightHouse, our highly skilled Orientation & Mobility instructors have been reaching out to our community of blind and low vision city travelers to provide training and information to our mobility students. Along with tactile diagrams and accessible information designed and produced by our very own MAD Lab, LightHouse has been a viable resource in bringing awareness of the SFMTA safety campaign and building the confidence in independent travel skills of the local blind community.

To learn more about Safety—It’s Your Turn you can visit the SFMTA website. To inquire about orientation and mobility lessons with LightHouse call 415-431-1481 or email info@lighthouse-sf.org.

To get your hands on the accessible safety guides and tactile left turn diagrams, you may contact Briana Kusuma at BKusuma@lighthouse-sf.org or call 415-694-7335.