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Blind woman says ‘disability sign’ outside her Henrico home could save her life

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- A Henrico woman says something as simple as getting the mail has become a major challenge since she lost her eyesight a year and a half ago.

“It gives me a little bit of time where I can work on my independence,” said Lynda Tennette.

Tennette said the once simple task of checking the mail isn’t so simple anymore. She moves with precision, relying on her cane and certain landmarks to get her to the mailbox.

While the task brings Tennette a certain independence, it can also cause anxiety.

Lynda Tennette

“My mailbox is on the edge of the street. No sidewalk. Nothing to slow people down,” she said. “They can’t see you until you get around the bend.”

On a street with no sidewalks, Tennette has also had a few close calls walking in her neighborhood with a mobility specialist who helps get her acclimated to living with blindness.

“Being blind, if I miss my cue for where my mailbox is, I will end up in the middle of the street and they’re not going to see me when they’re coming. By the time they see me, it’s too late,” said Tennette.

For these safety reasons, she contacted Henrico County to make a special request.

Lynda Tennette

“I asked if they could put up a sign ‘caution blind person’ or whatever… to slow people down.”

Tennette said her request was denied.

She said she didn’t understand why she was declined because she recalls seeing similar signs alerting drivers to blind or deaf people in certain neighborhoods.

Not fully understanding why the signs couldn’t be installed, Tennette contacted CBS 6 Problem Solvers.

CBS 6 Problem Solvers Shelby Brown contacted Henrico County and VDOT for answers.

“I have seen signs for deaf children and I’ve seen signs for blind children and that’s great. But as an adult I think we also still need it,” she said.

Prior to 2007, VDOT would, upon request, install neighborhood signs alerting drivers to people with disabilities, specifically children. In 2007, the agency stopped installing them, citing several reasons why it was no longer prudent to do so.

One of those reasons included that there was a lack of evidence that the signs impacted drivers’ behavior.

There were concerns that the signs led to a false sense of security and could attract individuals wishing to take advantage of a child or family. There were also health privacy concerns.

Lynda Tennette

Still, Tennette is hoping for a solution.

CBS 6 Problem Solvers learned from Henrico officials that she can have her own sign installed on her private property at her expense, as long as it’s not in the county’s right of way.

It’s an option that Tennette didn’t know about before, but one she’s now giving much consideration.

“My biggest fear is just being hit by a car,” she said. “Most days they don’t even stop. They just keep going and I wouldn’t be able to ID the car even if I did get hit.”

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