Paradise council hopes to send right signal with pilot project for the blind

By Craig Westcott | The Shoreline | Vol. 31 No. 45 (January 23 2019)

Paradise council is taking advantage of a proposal from the CNIB and a promise from Ottawa to share some of the costs of undertaking a pilot project to test technology designed to make traffic intersections safer for blind pedestrians.

Councillor Deborah Quilty said the idea came from staff members who attended a presentation by Key2Access, the company that has designed a mobile phone app that enables blind people to trigger the walk signal at intersections.

Quilty said Key2 Access proposed that the Town try the app at three locations. Town staff identified crossings on Topsail Road, which then had to pass muster with the CNIB.

“There are currently 40 clients who receive services from the CNIB and who live in the Town of paradise,” said Quilty.

“However, from the previous census, the number who self-identify as having a degree of vision loss that impacted their day to day lives was substantially higher. There are 1,740 seniors in Paradise who could benefit from this technology.”

Quilty said the idea will cost the Town some $5,560 to implement.

“The funds for the project would come from the Maintenance and Repairs to Traffic Lights budget,” she added, noting the federal government will pay for 50 per cent of it.

“I think it’s a great project,” said Mayor Dan Bobbett. “From an accessibility point of view, it’s going that little extra ways and this is great in an electronic world… It’s a great initiative.”

Councillor Patrick Martin agreed. “It’s money well spent,” he said. “Anything that better serves our citizens, especially the seniors and people with vision loss, it’s just more inclusion in the community.”

Even if the Town had to pay the full cost, it would be money well spent, Martin wagered.

Councillor Stirling Willis said the App will give the visually impaired a “more secure understanding of where they are and where they are going, and I think this is a fantastic thing that we’re putting in place.”

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