From today's Democrat: (thanks Doug for making this happen) Local volunteer has Braille added to bus stops Volunteer helps StarMetro stops become accessible Oct. 27, 2013 11:36 PM John Plescow was given the Paula Bailey Award by Lighthouse of the Big Bend for brokering a deal with StarMetro to have braille plaques installed on bus stops. John Plescow was given the Paula Bailey Award by Lighthouse of the Big Bend for brokering a deal with StarMetro to have braille plaques installed on bus stops. / Special to Democrat Written by Arek Sarkissian II Democrat staff writer Filed Under TLH Local TLH Local Volunteerism Four years ago, StarMetro announced a plan to do away with its hub-and-spoke route system in favor of a decentralized network using 40 stops as transfer points. The move would make Tallahassee's bus system more efficient and perhaps decrease its reliance on the city budget. But the plan included nothing for members of the visually-impaired community who rely on Braille signage to keep up with bus schedules. John Plescow found no use for StarMetro's new system, which went online in July 2011, and at the suggestion of his fellows in the blind community, he volunteered his time to make a difference. "It served me much better the old way," Plescow said. "They really opened up Pandora's Box with the new system. It was much more difficult to navigate." Plescow brought in the help of Lighthouse of the Big Bend, Ability1st and the city to find a roughly $24,000 federal grant to purchase and install Braille plates on bus stops across the system so blind people can determine route numbers and a text code for schedules. Plescow's work earned him the Paula Bailey Inspirational Award at the Lighthouse Dining in the Dark event on Oct. 13. The award is given to people who inspire others, are visually impaired and are residents of the 11 Big Bend counties the organization serves. City transit planning manager Brian Waterman said the StarMetro C.K. Plaza was used as the main transfer point in the former route system and was outfitted with Braille placards to meet federal Americans with Disabilities Act standards. The newly-adopted system turned former stops into transfer points and the ADA did not require them to have signage for the visually impaired, Waterman said. "Braille is not common at bus stops," Waterman said. "You have to do it so it's readable and also, bus stops are prone to damage or being removed." Plescow said he was determined to come up with a solution and found former assistant city manager Jay Townsend willing to help. "It sort of became my second job," Plescow said. "But it was something that needed doing and it was a distraction from everything else." Plescow said the signs have been ordered and should be installed in the next six months. He applauded the city's initiative to make StarMetro the first public transit system to equip all stops with Braille signage. "Everyone likes to be recognized and told, 'hey you're doing something good,' " Plescow said. "But the true reward is that there is going to be Braille at every bus stop. That is a plum for Tallahassee and a very positive thing."