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City's Blind Lack Audio Signals For Crossing The Street

CHICAGO (CBS)--Blind residents who live in Chicago may have a tougher time getting around compared to some other major U.S. metropolitan cities.

A CBS 2 examination of city intersections found less than a dozen corners are equipped with audio signals to help the blind safely cross the street.

Chicago resident Isaac King lost the majority of his vision when he was just 11-years-old.

He now uses a cane to help navigate the sidewalks, but he relies on his ears when crossing the street.

He sometimes counts on the kindness of strangers who happen to be nearby to help him know when the intersection is clear to cross.

Eileen Alcala also relies on her hearing, with a little help from her seeing-eye dog, Izzy.

Both Alcala and King agree the city needs more audio signals for the visually-impaired. They say it would take away much of the fear they feel on a daily basis while just trying to get around town.

According to the Chicago Department of Transportation, only 11 pedestrian signals for the visually impaired exist in the city, or less than a half percent of all intersections.

Compare that to 120 in Seattle, 252 in San Francisco and 200 in Minneapolis.

A city spokesperson cited cost and outdated signal posts as reasons for the lack of signals for the blind.

Alcala calls that a disappointment.

"We welcome everybody, so why not make Chicago the most accessible city in the country?"

Chicago's blind population may have an easier road ahead. The city plans to install more than 50 new audio signals during the next several years, according to a city spokesperson.

Locations are still undetermined.

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