COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Better Call 4 first met Sadie McFarland in July of 2021. The then-college sophomore, who is legally blind, struggled to find her way around downtown Mount Vernon safely.
“There’s no button to push to let them know that I need to walk, or no audio signal telling me it’s safe to walk,” said McFarland.
McFarland called Better Call 4 to call on the city to install audio signals at all crosswalks. Just a few weeks after the story aired, I got a call from Mount Vernon City Councilwoman Amber Keener.
“I wanted to see what our city was doing to address this issue,” said Councilwoman Keener.
After speaking with several departments last September, Keener started working on legislation to upgrade the city’s crosswalks. Then, in June of this year, I caught up with Keener, who told me the ordinance passed.
“Whenever a new intersection is placed within city limits, or whenever we renovate or upgrade an intersection, they will have audible signals automatically placed there,” said Keener.
Keener said she would like to see, and hear, these signals all across Mount Vernon, and said the city is one step closer each day to meet that goal.
“We’ve got three audible signals already going in this year, and next year, every single signal we do will have an audible connected to it as well,” Keener said.
Keener said the project comes with a cost.
“We are still working on some funding for specific locations, which are high traffic areas,” said Keener. “These are expensive to place. And so, you can’t just attack the whole city at one time.”
But Keener said every penny is worth it.
“After this legislation passed, I was just having dinner with some acquaintances, and a lady came up to me and she’s like, ‘Thank you so much. I don’t know if you know this, but I am legally blind, and so are two of my children. And so, this is really important to us.’ It was eye-opening that these individuals are all around us and we can serve them in a better way,” Keener said.
Councilwoman Keener also said the initial focus of the audible signals was in downtown Mount Vernon, but the city council also determined a significant need for schools in the area.
As always, the city council wants more input from residents. If you would like to let them know where you’d like to see one of these signals, contact Mount Vernon City Hall.