Walking blind

30 Mar


I was driving home from Trader Joe’s this afternoon when I saw a blind woman on the sidewalk. I could tell she was thinking about crossing the street. She had on thick glasses and was feeling around with her white cane. I was pretty sure she had no idea what color the light was. My suspicions were confirmed when she stepped out in front of my car the minute my light turned green. Luckily I was keeping an eye on her so I didn’t move, but I’m not so sure an impatient cab driver would have done the same. The incident got me thinking–how are blind people in Chicago supposed to know when to cross the street? In some cities like DC they have audio walk signs that either make a beeping noise or say “Don’t walk.” I wonder if anyone has made a push for that in Chicago. It probably got put on the bottom of the priority list since it wouldn’t create any revenue (like a traffic camera does.)

I’ve seen quite a few blind people walking about the city though. I saw one the other day in the library with his service dog. It seemed like an odd place for a visually-impaired person to be until I noticed he was checking out audio books. I was standing in a line of 20 people ready to check out but the blind guy’s service dog took him right to the front. I could hear some people in front of me sigh, but you can’t really complain too much. He has to go through life without being able to see anything, the least he should get is a front of the line at the library pass! And maybe some audio walk signs…eventually.

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