FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: 
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Category: 
John G. Paré Jr.
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2371
(410) 913-3912 (Cell)

National Federation of the Blind to Host Conference on Quiet Cars and Pedestrian Safety: Problems and Perspectives

BALTIMORE, MD, (October 31, 2006): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the nation’s oldest and largest consumer organization of the blind, will hold a conference entitled “Quiet Cars and Pedestrian Safety: Problems and Perspectives” on Saturday, November 4. The conference will be held at the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.

The term “quiet cars” refers to new electrical or hybrid vehicles that make no sound when their electric engines are running. “These vehicles can pose a danger to all pedestrians, but particularly to the blind, who rely on traffic sounds to navigate streets safely,” explained Deborah Kent Stein, the chairperson of the NFB’s Committee on Automobile and Pedestrian Safety, which is conducting the conference. Stein continued: “We hope that by raising awareness of this issue and proposing solutions, we will encourage industry players like automobile manufacturers and government agencies to take steps to solve the problem before one of these increasingly popular vehicles inadvertently causes tragedy.”

Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “The National Federation of the Blind is not opposed to more efficient and environmentally friendly automobiles. Pedestrian safety, however, must be taken into account when these vehicles are designed and manufactured. This conference will hopefully begin a constructive dialogue with the automobile industry, government agencies, and other consumer organizations to arrive at solutions which make new automobiles safer for all pedestrians.”

The conference will include:

· A real-time introduction to quiet cars;
· Presentations by researchers in the field of orientation and mobility for the blind concerning audition in street crossings;
· Presentations on possible engineering solutions to the quiet car problem;
· Small-group discussions considering engineering solutions and strategies for getting them implemented;
· Summation and planning how to move forward with the strategies developed at the conference.

Participants in the conference represent a range of scientific and academic disciplines and include guests from major institutions of higher learning such as Boston University, Western Michigan University, and Johns Hopkins University. Guests are expected from as far away as California and Canada. Automobile manufacturers and relevant government officials have been invited, and a representative from the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, usually referred to as the Access Board, will be present.

For more information or to register for the conference, please contact Deborah Kent Stein at dkent5817@worldnet.att.net or Chris Danielsen at (410) 659-9314, extension 2330.