Press Release
July 31, 2019

De Lima wants audible crossing information for blind, visually-impaired pedestrians

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has underscored the need to urgently install audible crossing information on the road to ensure the safety and self-reliance of pedestrians, especially the over two million blind or visually-impaired Filipinos.

De Lima, who chairs the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 623 which seeks to require all traffic signal poles to be equipped with accessible pedestrian signals (APS).

"People who are blind or visually impaired cannot rely on traffic lights at every intersection they cross. Without sufficient visual information, they merely depend on the sound or sense of traffic to identify a time when traffic has stopped and crossing the street is possible," she said.

"With over two million Filipinos who are blind or suffering from poor vision, the installation of APS in most, and ideally all, traffic signal posts shall aid them in being independently mobile and ensure a safe journey for everyone," she added.

Citing the Canadian National Institute of the Blind, De Lima noted that the technique of depending on the sound or sense of traffic is considered risky, especially when traffic volumes are low and there are fewer cues to use.

De Lima also cited the risks when an advanced green display allows cars to turn left or right which can cause a pedestrian to mistakenly assume that the surge of traffic is a signal to walk.

"Although traffic sounds and vibrations can help a pedestrian safely cross a street, there are many intersections where this type of information is insufficient to assure a pedestrian who is blind or visually impaired a safe journey," she said.

Under SB No. 623, all new traffic signal poles that have yet to be installed shall be equipped with an APS while existing traffic signal poles shall also be equipped with the same but the installation is in an order of priority following a criteria set by the Department of Public Works and Highways.

The proposed measure defines APS as a device affixed to traffic signal poles that communicates information about the "Walk" and "Don't Walk" intervals at signalized intersections in non-visual formats.

"When an APS uses audible tones, it shall have a specific tone for the walk interval and clearance phases utilizing internationally recognized standards," she said.

De Lima proposed that one distinct sound for the North/South crossing and another distinct sound for the East/West crossing shall be used for the "Walk" phase, and that a distinct sound for the North/South clearance phase and another distinct sound for the East/West shall also be used for the clearance phase.

She pointed out that the tones shall be at least two decibels and no more than five decibels greater than the ambient noise level, must be sensitive to level changes, and must be audible to the mid-point of the crossings.

"Persons with disabilities are part of Philippine society, thus, the State shall give full support to the improvement of their total well-being and integration into the mainstream of society," said the social justice and human rights champion.

The lady Senator from Bicol filed the same measure in the 17th Congress but it remained pending in the Senate Committee on Public Works.

News Latest News Feed