Audible traffic signals are not pleasant noise to the ears...

Letters to the Editor

August 25, 1998

Audible traffic signals are not pleasant noise to the ears of 0) the blind

In a recent Intrepid Commuter column, the writer sang the praises of audible traffic signals that have been installed in Towson. Audible signals are intended to help blind people cross the street.

Speaking as a blind person, we don't need them.

They may seem like a good idea to the public because most people don't understand how blind people travel. It is really quite simple. I listen to the traffic pattern. I use my white cane to find the curb and navigate the pavement. I learned to cross the street safely as a child, just as sighted children do.

Newly blinded adults can easily learn these skills, too.

Audible signals can be distracting. If they are loud enough to be heard, they cover up the sound of traffic, but they can not be heard over busy traffic, so they would be useless even if I wanted to use them.

Audible signals may harm blind people, by negatively shaping society's beliefs about blindness. The underlying message is that blind people are not capable of crossing streets without such adaptations.

What saddens me the most is that a newly blinded adult may internalize this belief. In so doing, audible signals take away independence.

I don't want my tax dollars spent on audible signals.

However, if more are to be installed, I would like blind people to be actively involved in the process. If we want to make an investment that will improve the lives of blind people, let's focus on making advancements in technology accessible to the blind.

Lynn Mattioli

Baltimore

The writer is president of the Greater Baltimore chapter of the National Federation of the Blind.

Sauerbrey's tax cut attempts to buy votes

Candidate Ellen Sauerbrey's proposal to cut taxes only for the elderly is a brazen attempt to buy my vote at the expense of working taxpayers. To single out one group of citizens for a tax cut is discriminatory and unfair to all citizens who have not reached retirement age.

A tax cut should be across the board or not at all. Her tax cut plan is a scam that is detrimental to the majority of taxpayers to benefit no one but herself.

Charles M. Shannon

Towson

No contradiction in religious views

In his article "Who's wrong, whose rights?" (Aug. 14), John Rivera reported two views of homosexuality by religious leaders. He reports one side as saying, "Homosexuality is a sin," and the other as saying, "God loves and accepts love from all people, regardless of sexual orientation."

Mr. Rivera's conclusion is that they are "diametrically opposed interpretations of the word of God." He could not be more wrong.

If he had actually listened to the meeting with the press, he would have heard the theme that homosexuality is a sin, but God loves all of his children, and that we as his children should love one another, too. And so there is no contradiction or differences of interpretation.

God's word is very clear on two points. One, homosexuality is a sin. Two, marriage is the union of a woman and a man.

The debate is not about the accuracy or interpretation of God's word, but whether we accept it as an absolute truth or revise it when it doesn't agree with the opinions of the socially enlightened, politically correct segments of our society.

I think God did a good job writing scripture. Why should we rewrite it?

Mik Megary

Ocean Pines

Intervention comes too late to salvage young offenders

Your report indicated that the juvenile system failed in rehabilitating 17-year-old Donnell Russell, who was given a 30-year sentence for shooting another young man ("Repeat offender, 17, gets 30-year term for shooting man," Aug. 13). Judge Joseph H. H. Kaplan contended that rehabilitation efforts for young criminals are often worthless and that "the damage done to these people in the first years of life is hard to undo."

Judge Kaplan is absolutely correct. By the time intervention occurs, many young offenders are well on the way to becoming hardened criminals. An examination of Russell's case clearly supports this. His father was shot when Russell was 9, and his mother was in trouble with the law and abandoned him. Russell (( apparently entered the system at age 13 and received probation. By age 16, he was finally placed in a residential setting when a confined facility was needed. This is another instance of too little too late.

The juvenile justice system is staffed with many competent, dedicated professionals. However, their hands are often tied by limited resources, under-staffing and a changing political climate. This must be corrected if we want to have any chance of fixing the Donnell Russells of the world.

Paul Lavin

Catonsville

The writer is author of "Working With Angry and Violent Youth" and "Profiles in Fury: The Dynamics of Angry Youth Going 'Bad.' "

Label on plum is not peachy

The next person who holds up the supermarket manager at gunpoint won't be a wacko or disgruntled employee.

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