Blind in New York City

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

WNYC reporter Arun Venugopal and Chancey Fleet, adaptive technology instructor at the Jewish Guild for the Blind, discuss whether New York City is a good or bad city for the blind, and the resources and technologies available to blind people in the city.


Chancey Fleet and Arun Venugopal

Comments [14]

Ellen from Manhattan

Thank you for the interview with Chancey Fleet. I am a member of the Pedestrians for Accessible and Safe Streets (PASS,) initiated by the Greater New York Council of the Blind and other organizations and agencies serving people who are blind. We are trying to engage the media in publicizing, and the city government in investing, in Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS.) APS will aid people who are bind in negotiating intersections, as safety concerns and changing street geometries abound.

Dec. 09 2010 02:10 PM
Joan from New York City

Blind and sighted New Yorkers can learn about New York City's landmark buildings, historic sites, and public art at The descriptions have been recorded by prominent New Yorkers, and make great listening. The Jodi Award judges, who gave the website a 2010 "commendation for compelling content" at the European Union's conference on E Inclusion, said they hoped cities around the world would begin similar programs. Thus far, it is unique to NYC.

While the recordings don't address physical barriers, they do help to make NYC a more interesting place to live for people with vision loss -- as well as all New Yorkers and NYC visitors. The recordings are also on iTunes, so you can download them and take them with you to the sites featured. New recordings are added every month. Check them out.

Dec. 08 2010 04:44 PM
Barry Benepe from 49 Jane Street NYC 10014

When considering adding noise producing devices to electric cars to warn the blind, beware the law of unintended consequences. Several years ago the legislature passed a law requiring all trucks to operate extremely loud back-up beepers with the result that hundreds of sleepers are awakened in the dead of night when no one is near the rear of the offending truck. A sound audible no more than fifty feet away would have been sufficient and not required at all on construction jobs where guards and barriers keep pedestrians out of the way.

Actually electric vehicles are not entirely silent. Their sound can be fine tuned to meet the needs of the blind without adding to the cacophony already on the street. The legislature should be provided with balanced technically based advice so as not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Dec. 07 2010 12:14 PM
Chris Garvey from Amityville

If there were meaningful whistleblower protections, WikiLeaks might not be needed.
But there are not meaningful whistleblower protections. Not in the US, nor in China, nor in Iran, nor in most countries or democratic organizations.

Dec. 07 2010 11:26 AM
Gerard Hammink from Manhattan

I don't know what the answer is, but to my mind adding 'noise' to quiet hybrid and electric cars is silly. Don't we all want and benefit from a world with less machine noise?Cars may not be the biggest part of the noise problem compared to trucks and motorcycles, but cars add to overall noise level in the city (and the world for that matter).

Dec. 07 2010 11:05 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Someone mentioned curbcuts, but a blind friend told me that they're not so helpful when you can't see where the sidewalk ends & you're stepping into the street. Recently I've seen some curbcuts that have a pebbled texture (like the strips near the edges of subway platforms), so blind people can feel where the curbcut is.

Dec. 07 2010 11:00 AM
Betsy Armstrong

I am not Blind but am a DOE teacher of the blind as well as orientation and mobility.
My current students are extremely capable high school-aged at Laguardia and Beacon HS.
Some are independent travelers with restrictions and others are still dependent on parent or school bus, partly because of the irregularities of construction, unmanageable intersections, pedestrians who are not alert enough to notice or acknowledge other travelers. (the rise of mobile phone use has multiplied the events of inattention)
Yes, the governor has at least been a high profile example of the abilities of people who are Blind but, sadly, he uses neither Braille nor a cane so is NOT someone for my students to emulate. thank you for this exposure!

Dec. 07 2010 11:00 AM
Bill Swersey from Upper West Side

Arun, your piece on Morning Edition this morning was one of the best I've heard in a long time! I don't think I've ever heard from a blind person that it helps when we greet them ("good morning") so they can gauge where you are and also that they don't necessarily appreciate when their arm is grabbed by well-meaning Samaritans.

It would be good to develop basic elementary school curriculum and/or public service ads - would go a long way.

Dec. 07 2010 10:57 AM
Ash in Chelsea

As a sighted volunteer who has read to blind people at Selis Manor, a residence for visually impaired people on W. 23rd St, for more than 15 years, the most common mistake sighted people make when trying to help a blind person is to GRAB the person's arm when offering help. It literally wrests control from the blind person and can be dangerous.

Dec. 07 2010 10:53 AM
Robert from NYC

I am not blind but let me tell you I see blind people around town and this is by no means a blind-friendly place. I don't know how to make it blind-friendly but someone ought to study that seriously. I offered to help a blind woman with a dog once to get thru a revolving door and she screamed "RAPE, RAPE, RAPE!" I freaked and didn't know what to do until a plain clothes detective who happened to see the whole situation approached me and calmed me down and assured me I was not in trouble. He pointed out that i incorrectly grabbed her elbow to help, I should not have touched her but first should have asked her if she needed assistance. I learned my lesson and she did just fine getting thru the door as she had done every other day before and probably after the day I saw her.

Dec. 07 2010 10:52 AM

Can you just ask what your guest thought of the SNL parodies of David Paterson?

Dec. 07 2010 10:51 AM

just yesterday on the f platform at w4th st, a blind man was asking which way were the stairs. i was not near him and walking away. no one near him was willing to stop and tell him

Dec. 07 2010 10:50 AM
mp from Brooklyn

If a blind person is using a seeing eye dog, do NOT pet it!

Dec. 07 2010 10:49 AM
Frank Grimaldi from East Village

My sister, who is legally blind, met me infront of St. Patrick's Cathedral. She had her white cane folded up and in her hand. I asked her why she wasn't using it and she said people were jumping over it. Her daughter, who was with her that day, confirmed that people jumping over my sister's cane did indeed happen. I would say that when people are in a hurry, a blind person is just another obstruction in NYC.

Dec. 07 2010 08:46 AM

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