Staff Told to Move on Audible Traffic Signal Requests

January 4, 2012
Gord Whitehead

LAMBTON SHORES — For the second time in as many months, Lambton Shores staff has been told to investigate and prepare a report on audible traffic lights.

The latest directive comes from the municipality’s accessibility committee which discussed letters from two women with complete vision loss who told of their difficulties crossing two busy intersections served by conventional light signals in Grand Bend.

The committee on Nov. 9 passed a motion, “That staff be instructed to prepare a report on the necessity, costs, funding and location for audible traffic lights within the municipality,” according to a report received at last week’s council meeting.

All of council on Oct. 3 had voted to direct staff to report “as soon as possible” and to consult with its accessibility committee. Staff apparently had awaited results of the consultation. Conventional traffic lights have been operating for many years where Ontario Street (Highway 21) meets Main Street and at the intersection of Ontario Street South (Highway 21) and Lake Road.

The Ontario-Main intersection is extremely busy and difficult to cross without sighted assistance, said Exeter resident Valarie Anderson who takes mobility lessons in Grand Bend. “A visually impaired person has to listen to the traffic flow to judge when it is safe to cross,” said Anderson.

“Sometimes, by the time we are aware it is our turn the light is beginning to change. Also some corners have advanced greens, etc. Audible lights bring the security of knowing when to cross intersections safely.

Anderson also suggests the busy tourist season “could very likely” bring more persons with visual impairments.

The request for audible lights at the Ontario Street South-Lake Road intersection was made by Jacqueline Pentland who is identified as a Lake Road resident and user of a white mobility cane for identification. She describes her difficulties in dealing with the busy Ontario Street-Highway 21 corridor.

“Because I have to listen to the traffic flow to judge when it is safe to cross, I am depending on a parallel traffic surge from Lake Road,” said Pentland. “However all I get is slow turning traffic, sometimes waiting for me to cross first. But I am waiting for a car to surge to inform me when to start.

“I would like to frequent the stores on the east side of the highway but cannot,” said the one-year resident of Grand Bend. “I should have walk signal warning in format of choice which for me is through my sense of hearing.”

Council also learned last week that the accessibility committee had considered raising community awareness through a business information evening. Members discussed the feasibility of inviting members of Chambers of Commerce and Business Improvement Associations to an information meeting where pending requirements for improved access to commercial establishments could be presented.

As reported in the committee minutes, “Steve Balcom noted the importance of raising awareness amongst the business community that those persons with disabilities are customers as well, that any improvement in accessibility to an establishment can only improve business. Members agreed that business owners could only benefit from being advised of upcoming mandated accessibility requirements being imposed by 2025 and the accessibility committee could be of assistance in finding reasonable solutions to accessing their businesses.”

Further ways in which the municipality could improve access to municipal services was discussed. Options such as an improved sound system for meetings, having a system such as Browse Aloud to work along with the municipal website installed, wider handicapped parking spaces made available and having stronger by-aw enforcement for handicap parking were some of the issues deliberated.

The committee passed a motion, “That staff prepare a report on the use and costs of a voice-over software program such as Browse Aloud to work along with the municipal website to assist the visually impaired.”

(Note from COAAC Editor: Browse Aloud is not a requirement of the AODA, the website still needs to be compliant, see http://www.aoda.ca/?p=744.)

Reproduced from http://www.southhuron.com/news/article/103224