Dumb Lifts and Idling Cars-A Blind Man’s Lament

David Griffith explains why some lifts are dumb and some Car drivers are even dumber.

The other day I was standing in front of a particularly difficult bank of 3 lifts. I decided to call out for help- as recommended by guide Dogs.

“Is anybody there?”

A cool middle class female voice replied from behind me –“No-there is nobody here.”

I thought of writing a Cartesian Philosophical piece on why somebody should consider that they are a nobody but instead I thought I would focus on why I needed help in the first place.

As I am blind I cannot see lift doors open. As I am hearing impaired I most often do not hear them open either. The solution I use normally is to place my hand on the actual lift door so that when the door opens I can feel it has arrived.

This works fine for single lifts but serious problems emerge when there are more than 1 lift servicing the floor. On this particular floor in question there were 3 lift doors each separated by a gap of about 8 feet.

To be fair the lift announce when they arrive by saying doors opening and then lift going up or down.

However in one crucial respect they are completely dumb. They do not announce which of the 3 lift they are.

As a consequence I normally have to play a mad game of musical lifts chasing between each lift and feeling each door to identify which lift has arrived. A Depressing amount of time I arrive at the correct lift only to hear the fateful announcement “doors closing”. On a bad day I can miss several lifts

On the Ground floor there are normally people around who can help but on floors 6 7 or 8 you are much less likely to find somebody who will admit to being somebody who could help.

Actually this can be a problem not just for blind people. One day I tried to catch a lift in the company of a woman using crutches. Even though she could see she could not make the distance to the lift in time before the door closed. In the end after both missing some lifts we made a deal. She directed me by voice to the requisite lift door and I held the doors open until she could join me.

All this hassle could be overcome by a teensy weensy adjustment in the software of the lift announcement program. Instead of a bell sound to announce the lift coming it should simply say Lift 1 going down. Adding a lift number to the announcement could make all our lives easier. So Lift 2 Doors Opening is massively more helpful for me than simply a vague Doors opening announcement.

So my appeal is for lifts to stop being so dumb and become just that little bit smarter.

Which brings me neatly to idling Car Drivers. They are well documented reasons why Drivers who sit parked, idling their engines are causing entirely avoidable harm to the environment because of pure laziness. They do not want the hassle of stopping and starting a car engine. There is another less well known reason as to why this behaviour is profoundly anti-social.

Idling cars are an issue for nearly all blind pedestrians whether they are using a Guide Dog or not. An idling car can, especially in my case mask the sound of another car coming down the road. The general advice then is not to cross a road where a car is idling. On some crossings you have no safe alternative however.

I have a guide Dog that is very cautious and will simply not cross the road if he hears a Car nearby with its engine running. I could try and override this caution but if I did I would in turn be taking an unacceptable risk. What if my dog is not simply responding to the idling car but has spotted a more dangerous moving car beyond it.

The other day I was stuck for 5 minutes at a crossing until a driver opened his door and leaned out to shout it was OK to cross. I had to shout back that his idling car was causing anxiety for my dog and he finally, grumpily turned his engine off where upon Nyle was perfectly happy to cross the road.

At least this car driver talked to me. Apparently according to other sighted pedestrians many drivers respond to my waiting by their idling cars by either waving their hand furiously or flashing their headlight to indicate I should cross. I hate to be critical of Drivers but flashing headlights and waving arms at a blind person does seem to me amongst the dumber attempts at communication I have heard of.

Most idling drivers simply hoot their horns at me, not realising that all Guide Dogs Owners are strictly taught not to cross a road on a hoot. Hoots are not directional, and a Blind person has no safe knowledge that the hoot is meant for them. It could just as easily be another car hooting to warn a pedestrian to get off the road.

So my appeal for the day is to have more smart lifts and car drivers.. With a little more intelligence all our lives could be made a lot easier.

David Griffith

Sent from Mail for Windows 10


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