Mean streets: Our guide to making downtown Durham safer for the blind—and everyone | News Feature | Indy Week

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Mean streets: Our guide to making downtown Durham safer for the blind—and everyone

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Textual descriptions - Block by block textual descriptions of the hazards and pleasures that those who are blind or with low-vision will face in Downtown Durham. - Street Name > Cross Streets > Side of Street > Hazards & Pleasures - Inventory
  • Blind map for downtown Durham
Open the map in a larger view




How the blind can read this

This story, including photo captions, has been specially designed for OCRs — optical character recognition readers — that many low-vision people use to read printed material.

We've specially coded all the stories so that text-to-speech software can also read the story, including a description of the photos and graphics.

And to accommodate readers who may not have adequate software, we have provided an audio version of this story, including descriptions of the hazards, online.

We have designed a map of the major hazards for the sight-impaired, and even people in wheelchairs or who have other mobility issues. Since the hazards are so intermittent — a sidewalk is closed today, but could reopen tomorrow — we have a web version of this map that can be crowdsourced. Notice a hazard? Plot it on the map with a description.

We have also included information for people who want to learn more about issues facing the blind. This includes links to free and cheap technologies for desktop computers, smart phones and tablets.

We hope that this story will gently remind people to think twice before placing a sandwich board or parking an Organic Transit ELF in the middle of the sidewalk.


Portraits of Judge Craig Brown and Andrea Applebee.
  • Photos by Justin Cook

Mean streets: Our guide to making downtown Durham safer for the blind—and everyone

Navigating downtown Durham as a blind person takes courage, a cool head and thick skin

Where to go for help

Contribute to our crowdsourced map of hazards around downtown Durham

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