After the first beep, cross safely

long wait

After the first  beep, cross safely

It is no less than a challenge to cross a road in the maddening traffic of this City. The task becomes even more daunting for visually impaired individuals, who either have to depend on somebody for a safe crossover or risk their lives each time they are
on road.

To help them have a hassle-free crossing, Delhi government recently asked agencies concerned to install audio signals at all traffic signals in the City. The audio, a pre-recorded voice or music, plays for some time, informing the visually impaired when the traffic light turns green or red.

This however, is not the first time that there have been talks to install such signals on roads. Delhi Police installed this system in two places – Janpath-Tolstoy Marg
crossing and Rajpath in C Hexagon around two years ago and planned to
commission many more.

But the visually impaired of the City, and experts feel that there may be one or two audio signals at some places but neither they have been put in place in a standardised way nor they are functional.

Prasanna Kumar Pincha, Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, who himself is visually impaired, says, “The status of auditory signals’ installations is not at all satisfactory. Government has not installed the gadgets successfully anywhere in the City. This I can tell you even though I am blind. You tell me, at how many signals have you seen auditory signals?”

Anil Aneja, vice president, All India Confederation of Blind (AICB) and a professor of English at Delhi University has a similar opinion. Anil, who is blind too, goes to the extent of asking whether installing audio signals at traffic lights would help visually
impaired or not is a questions in itself.

“There is an absolute lack of expertise and reluctance on part of the government to commission and install such systems. Issuing a letter to the agencies, directing them to install audio signal is one thing and is that direction is being followed or not is another. There has to be a mechanism and budgetary allocation for its implementation. Commission for Persons with Disabilities should be monitoring it but even that has failed,” Prof Anil shares with Metrolife.

According to National Blind Youth Association (NBYA) every year, two to three
visually impaired people die in road accidents and many get injured. And if such signals are installed, they would definitely curb them. “I am not aware if any such signal is installed anywhere in the City currently. But around two years ago, a testing of such signals was done near Janpath. It will be helpful only when done across the City. Also, if people stop their vehicle on seeing a blind person crossing the road, is a lot. Usually people do that,” says Shobhit Yadav, secretary of NBYA.

Joginder Singh Saluja, a wheelchair-bound youngster who has been working for DU’s disabled students, says, “This announcement has been done perviously too. It is only a part of government’s practice to seek headlines. Some years ago, this system was installed at some signals in VIP areas which don’t even work now. It will be futile if not installed across the City.”

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