It is the consensus of the world's largest professional organization of O&M specialists (the AER O&M Division, with more than 1,300 members) that O&M instruction for crossing streets with traffic signals must incorporate skills and information needed to address the modern signalized intersections, as explained in their position paper on the AER O&M Division website.
Crossing at Modern Signals Explains features of modern traffic signals that challenge our traditional street-crossing techniques, and strategies that are successful or dangerous and misleading Fall 2005 Newsletter, AER Orientation and Mobility Division
Traffic Signal Enlightenment A trip back to the time when we began to recognize the challenges of modern intersections and learn more about the mysterious world of traffic engineers and who to call about specific intersections. Includes links to some great resources on accessibility for blind people and several articles about advocacy efforts, and two articles by blind pedestrians / advocates:
Pedestrian Clearance Intervals at Modern Intersections: Implications for the Safety of Pedestrians Who Are Visually Impaired" (Comment) by Barlow, Janet M., Franck, Lukas, Bentzen, Billie Louise and Sauerburger, Dona (2001). Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, AFB Press, NY, Nov. 2001, pages 663-667
General pedestrian accessibility issues at traffic signals:
CROSSING STREETS WHERE THERE IS NO STOP SIGN OR TRAFFIC SIGNAL
The crossings in the photos below have no stop sign or traffic signal ("no traffic control"), although there are stop signs for intersecting streets, and in the fourth photo there is a signal for traffic on the other side of the island.
For information about teaching students to recognize Situations of Uncertainty for gap judgment
and other skills and concepts needed for crossings with no traffic signal or stop sign, go to
Roundabouts have many safety benefits over any other kind of intersection.
Those safety benefits should be available to all pedestrians, including (or especially!) those who are most vulnerable.
Pedestrians at roundabouts cross during a gap in traffic, which may be more difficult for pedestrians who:
are blind because they may be unable to hear vehicles that are yielding or approaching their crosswalk, especially with other traffic noises present;
have cognitive disabilities who need clear-cut rules, such as "cross when the WALK signal comes on, after checking in certain places for traffic movement;"
are young children because the ability to determine speed/distance of approaching vehicles is not yet developed;
are elderly because as we age, our ability to determine gaps deteriorates.
These pedestrians -- children, elderly, and people with visual or cognitive disabilities -- need the safety benefits that roundabouts provide as much as (or more than!) others.
Roundabouts can and should be accessible to all users.
One of the problems blind pedestrians have with crossing at roundabouts and other uncontrolled crossings is the difficulty in recognizing when drivers have yielded.
This is especially a problem at crossings with more than one lane -- if one driver stops, the pedestrian might be hit by a vehicle in the other lane.
I had the good fortune to participate in a FHWA study by Vaughan Inman and Gregory Davis to try to address this problem -- the video to the left is from that study, which is reported below: