City of Nacogdoches workers experience challenges faced by visually impaired people

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Valuable research came this week on what a person with low vision or blindness encounters while on present day sidewalks and street crossings.

East Texas News followed city workers as they temporarily experienced the challenges for the visually impaired.

Nacogdoches Public Works Manager Cary Walker wanted to see for himself how sidewalks and crossings can be improved for the blind or low-vision person.

"And the only way to understand what people with visual impairments go through is actually do it," Walker said.

Members of SFA's Visual Impairment/Orientation and Mobility Program eagerly accepted Walker's invitation.

"We really want what's best for individuals with disabilities to be able to get from point A to point B in a very safe and efficient manner," said DJ Dean, a clinical instructor for Stephen F. Austin State University's visual impairment/orientation and mobility program.

Three of the top 10 most frequently cited problems were maintenance issues. Walker's team wants to fix that.

"Feel how your cane is free to move from side to side," said an O&M assistant that was coaching someone on how to use a cane.

City employees learned the low vision or blind person relies on traffic sounds when crossing a street that has no audible signal.

"That's my sound there, the surge," Dean said.

But what if there are no cars to provide safe crossing clues? Wait, wait, and wait some more.

"Now, as a sighted person I could have already crossed," said Bob Bryant, who retired from SFA's visual impairment/orientation and mobility "What we need here is an audible push button."

Other challenges are when corners and crossing controls don't align with crosswalks.

"If you walk straight you end up in Main Street," Bryant said.

Maneuverable sidewalks and crossings can also help an aging person confronting limited vision for the first time.  As demonstrated by goggles, a person doesn't have to be blind, to have low vision.

"It would help a low vision person if you had the horizontal marking," Bryant said.
The suggestions are meant to be helpful and help proactive departments create safer passage for all pedestrians.

The City of Nacogdoches is holding a third Sidewalks Discussion on August 30 from 5:30 to 6:30 at the Nacogdoches County Courthouse Annex.Copyright

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