Blind World Magazine

Embarrassment by state officials at their misguided attempt to put up Braille signage.

The Tennessean.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006.

Embarrassment by state officials at their misguided attempt to put up Braille signage at the legislature should be exceeded only by their attempt to correct this folly quickly for those who need it.

Blind citizens have waited years for the day that they'd be able to use Braille signage to find their way around legislative offices so that they can talk with representatives. But when the Braille signage was unveiled recently, the signage was in numbers, all but useless to those who read Braille and who need the name on the door.

And not only were the numbers of little use, the upraised letters were only partially done so that a Braille reader couldn't read them if he or she chose.

Connie Frederick, who heads the Office of Legislative Administration, said the state wanted numbers on the doors because the rooms of lawmakers can change rapidly every two years in an election. It's a poor excuse. The changes were meant to benefit those who read Braille, not the state. Legislative officers should be scrambling to accommodate those blind people who depend on Braille.

And protestations that the state is well within the Americans for Disabilities Act guidelines fall flat, too: If the signage doesn't help those it was intended to help, it should be redone.

Redoing the signage shouldn't be a problem. When the state started remodeling the Legislative Plaza, the signage was a natural progression. It's taken about a year.

And the cost won't break Tennessee's budget: It cost $5,500. Legislative officials might want to spring for a little more to ensure better workmanship, but they shouldn't delay with a remedy.

This is a story about dignity for those who ask only that they be allowed the means to help themselves.

So far, the state hasn't provided the dignity and attention this issue deserves. This time, officials should involve those who know how to read Braille. The state obviously needs the direction.

End of article.

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