By Reid Spagna
After years of lobbying by the Jewish Guild for the Blind, the Department of Transportation is finally installing audible traffic signals near the non-profit on the Upper West Side.
Two audible signals would be installed at crosswalks near West 65th Street and the intersections of Central Park West and Columbus Avenue.
The confusing West 65th-Columbus-Amsterdam intersection is difficult to navigate for most pedestrians. But Jewish Guild felt their visually-impaired staff and clients were especially at risk.
The audible signals emit an electronic voice that directs a visually-impaired or legally-blind pedestrian to cross a street; the box is usually mounted on the same pole as the crosswalk light.
The Jewish Guild for the Blind, where about a dozen legally blind people work and hundreds of people receive services each week, has pushed to get the audible signals because it says that the already dangerous intersection is made even more treacherous for blind people traveling to and from the Guild.
The Department of Transportation began an investigation of the pedestrian signals in May, focusing on the major crossings on the Upper West Side.
“Once installed, the devices will be a big positive for blind and vision impaired people who make their way on foot,” said Peter Williamson, director of communications and public information at the guild. “Believe me, the intersection is confusing to sighted pedestrians, and it’s a real ordeal for someone with no sight to cross.”
The signals will be installed by the end of summer.
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