Articles : Solutions
and Dissolution : Designing for the Visually Impaired
is 4:00 p.m. at the Industries of the Blind in Greensboro, N.C.
and the 125 employees--70 of whom are visually impaired-- pour
out of the doors, talking and laughing.
"Who's out here looking at me? Is it the FBI? The police?" jokes
one man as he finds his way to a waiting van outside with the
aid of a white cane.
"Shoot, no one wants to look at you!" comes the teasing retort
from a fellow worker, as she piles into another van. A small
fleet of buses and vans, some of them driven by family members,
some by the city's paratransit vehicles, greets the workers
just outside the door of the building. At the end of the block,
a crossing guard signals traffic on Lee Street, a busy stretch
of road that runs from the Interstate through downtown Greensboro
and along the city's most developed strip of hotels, shopping
and restaurants. Most of the workers at the Industries of the
Blind choose, for their own various reasons, not to brave this
piece of road on foot. Charles German is one exception.
As the vans pull away from the curb, the older gentleman whips
out his own white cane and hangs a left, setting out for home,
which is three blocks away. After completely losing his sight
due to complications from a truck driving accident in 1962,
German, an assembler at the factory, learned to live and ambulate
"Charles is one of the few workers who commutes on foot," says
Annette Clinard, Personnel Administrator. "And believe me, we
just hold our breath every day as we watch him cross that intersection."
The intersection Clinard refers to is a T-crossing linking Lee
Street to another heavily trafficked part of town---the University
of North Carolina at Greensboro. Although a sign warns motorists
not to turn right on red, few obey the rule, making German's
crossing a real gamble.
"Do you know they don't pay that sign any mind? Back when I
could see, I remember that the driving book said when somebody's
walking in the road to give them the right of way. Is it still
like that?" he asks plaintively. Obviously his experience has
been to the contrary. "It takes a lot of nerve to get out in
that!" he says, gesturing toward the crosswalk, but smiles as
he listens for stalling traffic.
takes it all in stride
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