We recently completed street and sidewalk reconstruction on 23rd Avenue from S Jackson Street north to E John Street as part of the first phase of the 23rd Avenue Corridor Improvements Project and we were invited to observe a local deaf-blind person walk part of the improved corridor.
Alberto Gonzales, who lives in the Central District and works at the Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc., is deaf-blind. Alberto is able to get from home to work walking on Seattle sidewalks and using public transportation. He also gets help from his trusty guide-dog and uses a mini-guide to detect potential obstructions ahead. Alberto works with an area orientation and mobility specialist, David Miller, who also joined us on the walk. David helps blind and deaf-blind people learn routes and how they work and how to use public transportation based on their needs.
We learned that the new sidewalks and street crossings help Alberto and others, because they are smoother and more level than before. Light poles and other infrastructure have been relocated to create the widest and most usable route possible. Alberto was able to more comfortably cross the streets because of the Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) that have been installed. We walked with Alberto and David on 23rd Avenue from S Jackson St to E Spring St, not too far from where Alberto lives. The improvements made walking in the neighborhood easier for Alberto, which is important to help him get to work, and also to get outside for some exercise!
We participate in observations like this to help us learn more about the needs of people living with disabilities. While we strive to provide the most accessible and usable pedestrian network possible, there is always an opportunity to learn more by observing people with different abilities.
If you have any questions about accessibility within the Seattle public right-of-way, we encourage you contact our ADA Coordinator, Michael Shaw. He can be reached at (206) 615-1974 or by email at Michael.Shaw@seattle.gov.