Lawton Council for the Blind working to make city more accessible

Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 10:03 AM CDT
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - October is Blindness Awareness Month, bringing focus to those who are visually impaired or don’t have sight at all.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one million Americans are blind.

Dana Young is a Lawton woman who is partially blind but can see some things in black, white and grey.

“Yes, we are visually impaired, but we can still do everything that other people can,” Young said. “We just have to have different ways of doing things. We can still go to work. We can still go for walks in the park.”

She’s referring to things like tactile strips on sidewalks and audible pedestrian signals at busy intersections, like downtown near Gore Boulevard and 2nd St.

“It lets the lights know that there is a pedestrian here. It also tells us when it’s safe to walk across the intersection, and as we’re walking across the intersection, it counts down so it lets us know how long we have to get across before the traffic will start going again,” Young said.

Young uses a White Cane to navigate independently.

Oct. 15 is nationally recognized as White Cane Safety Day.

Liz Scheffe from the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services wants people to know that when you see a person using a White Cane there’s a law you must obey for their protection.

“The White Cane Law is that if you have somebody crossing the street, using a white cane, then you’re supposed to stop within 15 feet of them and yield to them crossing,” Scheffe said.

According to the City of Lawton’s ADA coordinator Mike Jones, his office is working to upgrade facilities across town for the estimated 13,000 people with disabilities in the area.

“Everything from new sidewalks to ramps to the new audible signals,” Jones said. “All of these are a component of an accessible pathway and we’re working to upgrade the ones that we have and provide them where we don’t have them.”

Jones said one major accessibility project the city will start working on soon is putting in sidewalks on the west side of Sheridan Road from Cache Road to Smith Ave. and on Cache from Sheridan to Homestead.

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